Heart Failure: Avoiding Medicines That Make Symptoms Worse
If you have
heart failure, you need to be extra careful with
medicines. Some can make your heart failure worse. Other medicines may not mix
well with your heart failure drugs.
This Actionset will help you
learn which medicines you may need to avoid and what questions to ask your
doctor or pharmacist.
Each time you see a doctor, make sure he or she
knows that you take medicines for heart failure.
Before you fill
any new prescription, tell the pharmacist that you have heart failure. Ask if
it's okay to take the new prescription medicine.
Before you take
over-the-counter medicine, such as a cold or flu
remedy, ask your doctor or a pharmacist if it is safe to take it with your
heart failure medicines.
Tell each doctor about all the other
medicines you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as cold and
flu remedies, herbal products, and natural supplements and vitamins. Take a
list of your medicines or bring your medicines to each doctor's
Whether or not some medicines will make your heart
failure worse depends on how severe your heart failure is. It also depends on
what type of heart failure you have.
Talk to your doctor or a pharmacist.
Show him or her a list of all the medicines you take.
It's important to keep an up-to-date
list of your medicines. Here are some tips:
Make a list of everything you take. Keep a
copy in your purse or wallet, and take it to each doctor or hospital visit.
Anytime you see a new doctor, show him or her your list.
to include herbs, vitamins, and over-the-counter medicines on your
Have each doctor keep a copy of your list of medicines in
Make sure your spouse, a family member, your
caregiver, or a friend has an extra copy of your list of
Use the same pharmacy or drugstore for all of your
Update your list if you start a new medicine or
stop taking one.
What if you need to take a medicine
that can make heart failure worse? Here are some things you can do:
Ask your doctor or a pharmacist if it is safe
to take the medicine.
For example, if you have a cold or the
flu, ask which medicine is safe to take.
Ask how long you should
take the medicine and how much you should take. It may be safe to take it for a
Watch for problems
Call your doctor if you have
symptoms that your heart failure is getting worse, including the following:
You gain weight suddenly, such as
3 lb (1.4 kg) or more in 2 to 3
You have new shortness of breath, a cough, or problems
Your ankles are more swollen than usual, and you have to
get up more often in the night to urinate.
You need to use more
pillows to sleep at night.
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.