I am
Show me:
Show me:
Taking your medicines
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Taking your medicines

There are many medicines that treat heart attack, angina, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and other heart conditions.

3 min read
Your cardiologist, along with your doctor, will decide the best medicines for you to take at home to help you manage your heart condition.

When you leave hospital, you will only have enough medicine for a short time. It is important that you keep taking these medicines and see your doctor for more prescriptions.

Why are medicines important?

Medicines can help:

  • reduce your risk of a future heart attack, angina, heart failure and stroke
  • manage your symptoms
  • improve your quality of life
  • keep you out of hospital
  • you live longer.
You may be given different medicines to do different things. You will need to take most of your medicines long term. 

Taking medicines – do's and don'ts

  • Take your medicines exactly as your doctor advises. Get into a routine.
  • Do not stop taking your medicine, even if you feel well.
  • Don’t stop taking medicines or change doses unless your doctor tells you to.
  • Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about possible side effects. 
  • Don’t run out of your medicines – keep enough of a supply at home.
  • Carry a list of your medicines, doses and instructions for taking them.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking over-the-counter or complementary medicines (e.g. cold and flu medicine, vitamins or herbs).
  • Don’t take medicine that’s past its ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date.
  • See your doctor regularly to check that your medicines are working properly.

Having trouble taking medicines?  

If you have trouble taking your medicine (e.g. you can’t swallow the tablets or opening the medicine bottle is difficult), speak to your doctor or pharmacist immediately. They will help find a solution – medicines can be changed or repackaged.

Important tips:

  • Don’t crush or break tablets to make it easier to take them unless the doctor or pharmacist tells you to do this. 
  • Don’t open capsules to mix the content with a liquid to make it easier to take. 
  • Do not stop taking your medicine, even if you feel well.
  • Speak to your doctor or pharmacist before making any changes. 

Managing your medicines

It is quite common for people to forget when to take their medicine or have difficulty taking their medicine. 

It is important to ask your doctor or pharmacist what to do if you do forget to take your medicine as advised or if you accidently took more than recommended (e.g. taking it twice).   

If you find it difficult to remember when to take your medicine, speak to your pharmacist about packaging it into an easy-to-follow medicine organiser or calendar pack (known as a dose administration aid).   

There are also online tools to help you keep an up-to-date list of your medicines and remind you when to take them. 

Tell your doctor or pharmacist what other medicines you are taking. That way they will know if mixing medicines will cause issues or if they will need to be taken at separate times throughout the day.  

Get to know your medicines

It’s important to know what medicine you’re taking, what it does, and how it might affect you. Your doctor or pharmacist can give you this information.

Medicine name

The drug name and brand name are different, and some medicines have more than one brand name. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are cheaper brands available.

How to take the medicine

Follow your doctor and pharmacist’s advice about when and how to take your medicines (e.g. at a particular time of the day, or with food).

Possible side effects

Talk with your doctor about these and what to do if you have side effects. Check if any of your medicines might affect you before driving, operating machinery or doing jobs where you need to be alert.

Side effects can be caused by reactions with other medicines or food, or because the medicine isn’t working well. Not everyone will experience them.  

If you think you feel a medicine side effect, speak with your doctor or pharmacist as soon as you can. Don’t stop taking your medicine until you do. Often symptoms are coincidental and due to another cause.  

Learn more about medicines and side effects on the NPS Medicinewise website

Where to find more information

  • Medicines often come with an information sheet called ‘consumer medicines information’ (CMI). If they don’t, ask the pharmacist or doctor for it and read all about your medicines. 
  • Call the Medicines Line on 1300 633 424.
  • Call the Heart Foundation Helpline on 13 11 12.

You might also be interested in

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

Pauline is a nurse and shares advice for young people who have had a heart event or are recovering from surgery....

Action Plans

Action Plans

Action Plans

Recovery is a long journey, so having a plan makes a huge difference. Using an action plan gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your lifestyle....

WEBINAR | Supporting young hearts: Ask a Cardiologist

WEBINAR | Supporting young hearts: Ask a Cardiologist

WEBINAR | Supporting young hearts: Ask a Cardiologist

Sat Oct 17 2020
Free

Alcohol action plan

Alcohol action plan

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Blood pressure action plan

Blood pressure action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your blood pressure....

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

Claude Lam, Open heart surgery survivor...

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

Find a cardiac rehabilitation service near you

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Cardiac rehabilitation information for health professionals

Cardiac rehabilitation information for health professionals

Useful cardiac rehabilitation resources for health professionals....

Davina overcomes the shock of a lifetime to recover from a traumatic heart story

Davina overcomes the shock of a lifetime to recover from a traumatic heart story

Davina overcomes the shock of a lifetime to recover from a traumatic heart story

Davina was going about her busy life when a visit to her GP revealed a series of heart conditions that changed her life. ...

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Cholesterol and triglycerides action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your cholesterol and triglyceride levels....

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Driving and travelling after a heart attack

Explore our guide for driving and heart attack recovery. ...

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie's heart story

Debbie decided to give cardiac rehab a go and hasn’t looked back since. ...

Diabetes action plan

Diabetes action plan

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Cardiac arrest at 33: the challenges of restarting your life

Emma shares her story and opens up about her emotional struggles....

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

Get heart attack recovery emails

The Heart Foundation has designed a series of emails to help people who've had heart attacks (and their loved ones) through their recovery....

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Sorting out your finances after a heart attack

Explore how to manage your financial concerns after a heart attack. ...

The Heart Collective

The Heart Collective

The Heart Collective

Supporting women who are living with a heart condition....

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Got a question about your heart?...

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Cardiac Rehabilitation for Health Professionals - Patient Resources

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

Helen's heart story

It wasn’t until Helen's second heart attack that she realised the importance of exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet....

Nutrition action plan

Nutrition action plan

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

How a pacemaker at 34 saved my life

Kim shares the emotional and physical upheaval experienced on her journey to diagnosis and recovery....

Physical activity action plan

Physical activity action plan

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

Heart attack medication

There are a number of medications you could be prescribed after a heart attack....

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Jo's heart story

Joanne had five stents inserted into her heart in her early forties. Fifteen years later she had a triple bypass....

Psychological and social health action plan

Psychological and social health action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your emotional health....

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Explore the Heart Foundation’s guide on what to expect in the first month after your heart attack. ...

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

After having five open heart surgeries between the ages of 13 and 41, Peter knows a thing or two about recovery....

Quit smoking action plan

Quit smoking action plan

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret's heart story

Margaret was young, fit and otherwise healthy but suffered a major heart attack that could have devastated her life...

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

If you have a heart condition, your doctor may recommend treatment or procedures...

A damaged heart valve meant Ruth had to make a tough decision

A damaged heart valve meant Ruth had to make a tough decision

A damaged heart valve meant Ruth had to make a tough decision

When Ruth felt breathless climbing the lookouts on her overseas trip, the last thing she suspected was heart disease....

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Long-term recovery after a heart attack

Information to help you adjust to what could be the 'new normal'...

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day; some people celebrate, other’s vehemently oppose it. Whatever your opinion, it’s important to remember that the day is about love. All forms of it....

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Discover what you need to know about being active after a heart attack....

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Relationships and sex after a heart attack

Explore some useful things to know about intimacy after a heart attack....

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Discover how to plan for your return to work....

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Many different thoughts may go through your head after a heart attack and you may be presented with complicated medical info. Know where to get support. ...

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

If you have heart disease, you are more vulnerable to severe complications....

Heart health information in your language

Heart health information in your language

A selection of heart health information brochures in a range languages...

Healthy Bowl Recipes

Healthy Bowl Recipes

Healthy Bowl Recipes

Find more heart healthy bowl recipes in our Bowl Foods recipe booklet...

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Meditation helped Grant recover from his heart attack

Thankfully for Grant Byrne, a lifelong Led Zeppelin fan, some quick thinking helped him avoid a stairway to heaven. Read Grant’s heart attack story now. ...

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

From diagnosis at 37 to heart surgery, rehab and now

Claude Lam, Open heart surgery survivor...

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Every day, 22 women lose their lives to this condition....

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

Maryanne was shocked to find she had a hidden heart problem

At first, it didn’t cross my mind it could be something serious. ...

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

COVID-19 info & FAQs

Information and FAQs about COVID-19 and heart disease....

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

Gerry had heart attack warning signs on his dream holiday.

I’d always thought of myself as fairly fit; I swam a lot, and did ‘soft running’, a combination of running and walking. ...

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

The one that took Jan’s breath away

Open heart surgery to treat damaged heart valves has improved Jan's overall health....

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

The game is “hide and seek”. You play it without even realising. The shock is that when you play this game, you could be placing your heart health at risk....

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm discovered he was at risk of a major heart attack just in the nick of time

Norm didn’t worry too much about his cholesterol problem – until an angiogram revealed he had an 80 per cent blockage in a major heart artery. ...

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril suffered a heart attack in 2015. Cardiac rehab helped get his life back on track. ...

Our research stories

Our research stories

Our research stories

We fund amazing researchers who have important stories to tell...

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

If you're 45 and over, or 30 and over if you're of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, you should book your Heart Health Check today...

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

Cardiomyopathy; another health curveball for Ange

A story from Ange Foster ...

Life changing research currently underway

Life changing research currently underway

Life changing research currently underway

Search our current researcher's and the ground breaking research being undertaken....

Get started with more physical activity

Get started with more physical activity

Get started with more physical activity

Finding time for physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your heart...

Heart Foundation Walking

Heart Foundation Walking

Heart Foundation Walking

Learn more about Heart Foundation Walking and find your local walking group....

Smart Heart Guidelines App

Smart Heart Guidelines App

Smart Heart Guidelines App

Access to Australian heart disease guidelines is now free at your fingertips...

Applying for research funding with the Heart Foundation

Applying for research funding with the Heart Foundation

Applying for research funding with the Heart Foundation

Discover more about our various funding programs, requirements, and application dates now....