Medications are a very important part of staying healthy and preventing a heart attack or stroke. But to enjoy the benefits of medication it is extremely important that you:
- Take the medication as directed by your doctor.
- Do not reduce the amount of medication you take.
- Do not stop taking the medication until directed to do so by the same doctor who prescribed it.
For patients with cardiovascular disease, taking medication is usually a long-term commitment, perhaps lifelong. Therefore, understanding the medications you are taking and how they work is a key step in managing your cardiovascular disease and preventing a first, or repeat, cardiovascular event. In fact, for many patients, not adhering to a medication plan can have serious, or even fatal, consequences.
How often have you insisted that your partner, child or parent take his or her medicine to get better or stay well? Your loved ones want the same thing for you—a long and healthy life. So, take your medicine! If not for yourself, take it for the people who care about you.
Medications for Treatment & Prevention
If you are at significant risk of heart disease; have had a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event; or have undergone procedures such as angioplasty and stenting or coronary bypass surgery, your doctor will prescribe medications as part of your treatment plan for primary and secondary prevention:
- Primary prevention is when medications are prescribed to prevent heart disease. An example of this would be starting a cholesterol medicine before plaque begins to build up in the blood vessels.
- Secondary prevention iswhen medicines are prescribed to limit the progress of heart disease or reducing its symptoms. For example, doctors may prescribe a beta blocker drug for a patient who has had a heart attack to control blood pressure and relieve chest pain (angina).
If you or your primary care physician has any questions about the medications that have been prescribed for you, be sure to talk to your prescribing cardiologist before making any changes. Improving your cardiovascular health depends on carefully taking prescribed medication and maintaining ongoing contact with your cardiologist.
Remember, caring for your cardiovascular health does not end when you leave the cardiologist’s office or hospital. It is only the beginning.