Heart Health: Monitoring Medications

  • February 16, 2021
Heart Health:  Monitoring Medications

Congestive heart failure is the most common diagnosis in hospital patients aged 65 years and older. This diagnosis is often the result of high-risk medication, but how can you know if your medication is truly putting you at risk? 

The FDA changes its advice all the time, and we understand how frustrating it must be. It can be difficult knowing where to turn to for information, so we’ve put together a roundup for you. Based on recent studies, watch out for the following diagnoses and medications.

Know Your NSAIDS

“Have a headache? Take Advil.” This advice used to be routine, but now comes with a warning. Recent caution from the FDA concludes NSAIDs may elevate blood pressure and cause heart failure, and even short-term use can increase the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke. 

Use of common painkillers including ibuprofen and naproxen (brand names include Aleve, Advil, and Motrin) needs to be carefully considered, especially in seniors already at risk of heart attack or stroke. The risk can start as little as two weeks after starting NSAIDs, but increases with higher doses and longer amounts of time. 

We understand that as you age, you may be more prone to aches and pains. There are other helpful, safe alternatives. For example, acetaminophen is a safer over-the-counter medicine as it has not been identified as harmful to your heart health. 

If NSAIDs are a crucial part of your treatment plan, and you're unsure whether they're still right for you, be sure to consult a physician. Also be sure to keep all of your doctors aware of any medication changes in case of unsafe overlaps. Reduce risk by taking the lowest effective dose, never mixing different types of NSAIDs, or using Tylenol as a safer alternative. 

Dealing with Diabetes and Heart Disease

In good news, proper management of one disease helps tackle another. While diabetics have higher risk of heart disease, managing your diabetes through diet, lifestyle, and medication will actually kill two birds with one stone—help live healthily with diabetes and a strong heart.

Diabetes and heart disease go hand-in-hand. Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. Too much LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides can form plaque and clog artery walls, increasing the risk of comorbidities that can cause heart disease. Here are a few ways to work on keeping heart disease and diabetes in check.

Diet

Following a healthy diet and  maintaining a healthy weight helps with diabetes and heart disease management. Mayo Clinic recommends the following

  • Healthy carbohydrates

  • Low-fat dairy products, such as milk and cheese

  • Fiber-rich foods

  • Vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Nuts

  • Legumes, such as beans and peas

  • Whole grains

  • Heart-healthy fish

  • 'Good' fats (avocados, nuts, canola, olive and peanut oils)

Lifestyle 

Remaining active, managing stress, and monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol are great habits to include in your lifestyle. Even walking 10,000 steps throughout the day can help manage these diseases. Try these tips:

  • Do a daly weigh-in (preferably at the same time each day)  

  • Work with a dietitian to design a personalized diet and exercise plan 

  • Seek peer support (someone who will join you for walk, and cheer you on).

Medication 

Taking your medications consistently and without fail are crucial steps to keeping your diabetes in control and reducing heart disease risks. If you have trouble remembering to take your medicine or staying organized, purchase a pill organizer or ask someone you live with or your caretaker to set daily reminders for you. 

Manage Your Mood and Heart Disease

Depression and heart disease are a double-edged sword. One-fifth of heart attack survivors develop depression, but poorly managed depression can trigger heart disease. Focusing on mood management can help treat heart disease and improve recovery from heart attack and stroke. 

Unfortunately, when you're depressed, it's understandably harder to stick to healthy recovery habits. Heart attacks can have grave psychological impact on their victim’s attitude and mood, sense of certainty about the future, and confidence about roles and responsibilities. Heart attacks are not only traumatic on the on-set, but trigger lesser known post-recovery ailments like hormonal or nervous system imbalances.

Monitoring symptoms of depression, whether or not you’ve experienced previous heart ailments, can prevent future, long-lasting health problems.

Know your Blood Pressure Drugs

Ironically, bad interaction with other drugs allows blood pressure medication to damage the heart it's meant to protect. It’s important to know that certain blood pressure medications can alter hormones, causing a potential disturbance in heart function. Be sure to check with your doctor to make sure your medication works well with your age, other drugs, and medical history.

One blood pressure medication that can harm your heart is a calcium channel blocker. These include including Amlodipine (Norvasc), Diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, others), Felodipine, Isradipine, Nicardipine, Nifedipine (Adalat CC, Procardia), Nisoldipine (Sular), Verapamil (Calan, Verelan). These are used to lower blood pressure, so if you are on these and have heart disease, or it runs in your family, talk to your doctor today.

Keeping an eye out for new FDA safety regulations and maintaining your overall health will help you combat any potential heart issues.  Medical Guardian is here for you during American Heart Month every year on our blog and our products are there to protect you every day. Our newest product,  The Mini Guardian is a great place to start. The Mini is  a tiny, portable medical alert device with an unlimited range of wireless coverage to suit your lifestyle whether you are at-home or on-the-go. Feel free and independent knowing you have constant protection from life-threatening emergencies!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Medical Guardian is a leading provider of innovative medical alert systems that empower people to live a life without limits.


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