1. TAKE YOUR MEDICATIONS
Medication is an
important part of post-MI treatment, especially
if yours was due to
atherosclerosis, for which
medication would be
prescribed. Most survivors
should also take a baby
aspirin every day, and
if you’ve had a stent,
an additional anticoagulant medication like prasugrel,
ticagrelor or clopidigrel will be prescribed to prevent clots
from forming inside the stent. Taking aspirin along with
one of these prescribed medications is known as dual
antiplatelet therapy (DAPT).
Because most survivors have high blood pressure,
they will usually be prescribed at least one medication to
control it. But even without hypertension, medications
such as ACEI and beta blockers that lower blood
pressure may be recommended due to the damage to
the heart. If you have other conditions, such as diabetes,
there will be still more medications to manage.
Often patients are going from no medication to having
a regimen of six or more, which may seem daunting,
but may be what it takes to minimize your risk. Patients
should be mindful of the many interactions that can
occur when taking multiple medications. Some over-the-counter medications can even create problems. The more
complicated the drug prescription, the easier it is to miss
doses, miss refills or just simply be overwhelmed. Here
are a few suggestions to help:
Create a medication map. A chart that organizes all
your medication in one place so you or a caregiver can
see at a glance what, when and how much.
Schedule a “brown bag” session with your doctor
or pharmacist. Put all your prescription and non-prescription medications in a bag and take them to
your doctor’s office or pharmacy for evaluation. They
may find overlapping or duplicate prescriptions. This
is also a good time to make or update your medication
map. Periodic reviews allow you to ask if simpler, less
expensive or better alternatives are available.
Tell the truth about costs. If you’re having trouble
paying for your medications, tell your healthcare team,
they may be able to find medications that are affordable
and within your health plan. There are other ways to help
manage prescription costs as well.
Gather tools and support. Life gets busy. At first
your medication may be the highest priority, but as you
get further from the event, other priorities arise. But
taking care of your health is key to being able to take
care of all your priorities. To help stay on track with
• Use a weekly pill box.
• Cue pill taking with some other activity, such as
2. FOLLOW-UP WITH YOUR DOCTOR
• Find a smartphone app that lets you schedule
• Ask your family to help you remember.
• If yours is a complicated treatment plan, ask your
medical team if it can be simplified.
An important step is
to make — and keep — a
with your cardiologist
within a week of discharge,
if possible. Of primary
interest is how you are
tolerating your medications.
Don’t come to this
Write down any questions
you have about your treatment plan, because unanswered
questions can lead to doubts that may lead to not
following the plan. Your doctor will want to know any
symptoms you are having so they can either reassure
you it’s nothing serious, or so they can monitor the
situation. So pay close attention to anything going
on with your body, jot down notes about them and be
sure to mention them to your doctor at your follow-up.
Some examples of things the doctor may ask about or
would need to know include: Are there medication side
effects? Anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs can cause
bleeding, and blood in the stool can be a symptom. Are
you short of breath or are your ankles swollen?
Heart attack survivors may become acutely concerned