Heart patients don’t leave the hospital empty-handed. They go home with prescription drugs intended to help their health. But a recent study finds that as many as half have trouble taking these medications correctly during the first month—and about one-third experience harmful effects.
If you have heart problems, your doctor may prescribe several medicines. These may include drugs to expand your blood vessels, prevent your blood from clotting, lower your cholesterol, and relieve pain.
But to do this, they need to be used correctly. Misuse of these drugs can result in harmful effects, including nosebleeds, low blood glucose, and recurring heart symptoms.
In this study, more than half of 851 heart patients experienced drug mistakes when leaving the hospital. Almost one-fourth of errors were described as serious, and nearly 2 percent were life-threatening. The results were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Medication mistakes in the study included doctors not prescribing the right drugs and patients skipping or taking the wrong doses. Those most likely to experience such errors include:
But all patients—even those with a good understanding of health issues—were at risk. Even getting extra help from a pharmacist didn’t always help.
To prevent these errors from happening to you:
The National Institute on Aging has more tips on managing your medications at http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/medicines-use-them-safely.
If you have questions about heart medications, be sure to talk to your Rite Aid pharmacist.
“Cardiac Medications.” American Heart Association, July 2015. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/PreventionTreatmentofHeartAttack/Cardiac-Medications_UCM_303937_Article.jsp.
“Effect of a Pharmacist Intervention on Clinically Important Medication Errors After Hospital Discharge: A Randomized Trial.” S. Kripalani et al. Annals of Internal Medicine. July 3, 2012, vol. 157, no. 1, pp. 1-10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22751755.
“Medicines: Use Them Safely.” National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, December 2013, last updated January 21, 2016. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/medicines .
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.