Tips for Taking Medications

By Dr. Charles Stephens, former Heart of New Ulm local medical director

Being more physically active and making healthier food choices can help you manage several risk factors for a heart attack, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. However, sometimes medications are necessary as well. If your doctor has prescribed any medications for you, it’s important for you to take them precisely as directed.

Here are some helpful tips to ensure you are getting the most out of any medications you take:

• Understand why you are taking a prescribed medication, how much of it you are taking and what specific times to take it. Ask questions about your medications — the only "dumb" question is one that is not asked.

• Bring your medications with you to all of your medical appointments.

• Take your medication at consistent times each day, such as when you eat or brush your teeth.

• If you are supposed to take any of your medications on an empty stomach, take them first thing in the morning and then wait one hour to eat breakfast.

• Know whether you should take your medication with food, water or juice and if there are any foods or beverages you should avoid.

• Use an organizer or other reminder system for your medications. Talk with your doctor about options to use combination pills or a dosing schedule that will make it easier.

• If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible or get back on track the next day.

• Keep your medications in the prescribing bottle and store them away from bright light and humidity (e.g., do not store your medications in the bathroom due to the humidity).

• Ask about generic alternatives or other assistance options if you cannot afford your medications.

• If traveling, make sure to take your medications with you.

• Report any side effects you are experiencing to your pharmacist or doctor.