Explains how to take medicine for congestive heart failure. Suggests schedules, lists, and pill containers to remember when to take medicines. Covers need-to-know names of medicines and side effects. Also how to handle missed doses, need to avoid certain medicines.
Heart Failure: Taking Medicines Properly
Medicines do not cure
heart failure. But they can make you feel better, help
your heart work better, and help you live longer.
Take a list of your medicines or bring your
medicines with you when you visit your doctor. Make sure
to include any nonprescription medicines and natural supplements
that you take. Talk about any side effects you are having or need to watch
Make your medicine schedule as simple as possible. Plan times
to take your medicines when you are doing other things, like eating a meal or
getting ready for bed. This will make it easier for you to remember to take
Talk with your doctor if you are having problems
with when to take your medicine. Your doctor may be able to change your
medicines or the times you take them.
Talk with your doctor
if you have any changes in your health that might affect your heart
failure, such as weight gain, side effects of medicines,
or another health problem.
Use tools like
daily or weekly pill boxes to make taking your medicines
How can you take your medicines properly?
you can get started on taking your medicines properly.
Make a medicine plan
Talk with your doctor about:
What medicines you
take. Find out what each medicine does.
If you understand what you are taking, it may be easier to
follow your schedule. Write down both the
brand name and
generic name for your medicines. Have your doctor
check the list. You can use this list to make sure that
the medicines you get from the drugstore are
Your medicine schedule. Be sure you
understand how much of each medicine to take and when to take each one. Ask
your doctor if you can make your pill schedule
simpler. You may be able to substitute longer-acting
medicines for shorter-acting ones. Longer-acting, once-a-day medicines are
easier to remember to take.
How to handle missed doses. Talk with your doctor about what you should do if you
accidentally miss a dose of a medicine. Discuss what to do for each medicine,
because it may be different for each one.
Your medicine costs. Ask your doctor if you can take generic medicines that
cost less than brand names. Compare prices between several
drugstores, and think about buying your
medicines by mail.
Medicines to avoid. You may need to avoid certain medicines. Many nonprescription
medicines, prescription medicines, and natural supplements can make symptoms of
heart failure worse. Or they may react with your
heart failure medicines. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about medicines that may make heart failure symptoms worse,
and write down those that you should not take. Check with your doctor before
you take any medicines on this list.
Tests to monitor your medicine. You may have regular blood tests to monitor how the medicine is working in your body. Your doctor will likely let you know when you need to have the tests. Your doctor wants to be sure that your medicine isn't harming you and that you're getting the right dose.
medicines properly means taking the right dose of the right medicine at the
Use a pillbox that holds a week's worth of pills. This may be
most helpful if you are taking pills every other
Post reminders. Get sticky notes and
write reminders to take your medicines. Post
them near clocks or on the bathroom mirror to keep you on
Store medicines properly. Keeping
medicines in a place that is too hot or too cold
may keep them from working right. Ask your doctor or
pharmacist how to store your medicines. Always keep them
out of the reach of children.
Watch for side effects
Ask your doctor or pharmacist about what side effects to expect.
Be sure to tell your doctor right away if
you have problems from your medicines.
Always check with your doctor before you take any other medicines, whether they are prescription or nonprescription. This includes any herbal or
Let your doctor know if you have any changes in your health that might affect your heart
failure, such as weight gain or another health
Primary Medical Reviewer
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.