Don’t know an ACE inhibitor from a beta blocker?
Heart patients benefit from Bay pharmacists’ counsel
McLaren Bay Region pharmacies are reminiscent of drugstores a generation ago. Bay pharmacists take the time to explain medications to patients; how they should be taken and when; and what each medication is designed to do.
For heart patients – often taking many medications – this is especially important, says Vern Botts, R.Ph., a long-time McLaren Bay Region pharmacist. "In most instances," says Botts, "cardiac patients bring me their scripts, and ask for help in planning their medication schedule, and seeing if suitable generics can save them money.
"We talk to patients about the most important side effects, and when they should follow up immediately with a call to their cardiologist. We emphasize to heart patients not to ‘double up’ if they miss a dose.
"We remind heart patients that medications are to control their high blood pressure, cholesterol, and chemically initiate other control measures so the heart muscles pumps as efficiently as it can. Medications are not a replacement for eating a heart-healthy diet, or following a regular exercise program as prescribed by their physician. If anything, medications enable heart patients to have more control over metabolism, and have the physical energy to build up their heart muscle and arteries.
"Heart patients are adjusting to major transitions in their lives. Many have never taken an over-the-counter medication, except aspirin. Now, they find themselves on a high blood pressure medication, a cholesterol-lowering agent, an ACE-inhibitor, and a diuretic, along with other medicines to relieve other conditions. They often feel overwhelmed.
"Patients may wonder, even with the difference in cost, if they shouldn’t take the brand name medication over the generic. In some instances, the brand name does make a difference in the patient’s recovery. Still, 90-95% of the time, the generic works the same way the brand medication works, and is equally as effective."
"McLaren Bay Region pharmacies pride themselves on answering patient’s questions, providing medication counseling, and when needed, free delivery, adds Botts "We have a tip sheet for our customers:
- Know your medications – their names, why you take them, how to take them, and how often to take them.
- Keep a list of current medications (name, dose, how often taken) and carry it in your wallet or purse.
- Read labels on your medication bottle. For example, some medications should be taken with food for best effect. Those auxiliary labels tell the patient help the patient get the maximum benefit out of the medication.
- Talk to your physician before decreasing, increasing or stopping a medication. Even if you feel better, continue taking your medication until you talk with your physician. If you forget to take a dose, but remember on the same day, take the missed dose. If you don’t remember the missed medication until the next day, don’t double up on doses. Go back to your regular medication schedule.
- Medications are prescribed for each individual patient. Don’t share your medications with someone else. Likewise, don’t take a medication offered by someone else who says it helped them immensely.
- Pick a pharmacy and get to know the personnel. This helps pharmacists monitor your medications, ask how a medication is working, and if you’re experiencing any side effects. If you fill all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy, the staff can look for potential medication conflicts. It also makes for one-stop shopping.
- Plan ahead for prescription refills. Call your physician if a prescription needs to be renewed at least 48 hours before you need it. If a prescription can be renewed, most pharmacies have a 24-hour phone line that allows you to renew your prescription after hours. Leave your name, the medication, how often taken, dosage, prescription number, and a phone number where you can be reached. Generally, you will be able to pick up the prescription the next day.
- Ask your pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medications to see if they conflict with your prescribed medications. Be careful about taking health foods and supplements that may interfere with current prescriptions.
- Cardiac patients are wise to take one child’s aspirin a day (81 mg). Taking a 325-mg. aspirin a day can lead to aspirin resistance.
- Keep medications away from children and grandchildren. Use child-proof caps if you are able.
- Store medications in a cool, dry location. Don’t take a medication beyond its expiration date.
- If you have a question about your medications, ask. Call Bay’s pharmacy at (989) 894-3737 for drug information and counseling."