Simple tools make it easier to manage your medications.
Use simple tools to manage heart pills
Science has developed a wide array of medications that reduce the symptoms of heart disease and prevent catastrophic events such as stroke or heart attack. But people with heart disease often are overwhelmed with the task of keeping up with—and taking—all these wonder drugs.
“Those newly diagnosed will likely be on three or four medications at the very outset. Learning what each one is for and which side effects they may cause and remembering to take them on schedule is quite a daunting task,” says Dr. Joanne Foody, associate professor of medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Old tricks, new tools
Whether or not you like gadgets, there are lots of tricks and tools you can use to help you keep up with your meds. Some of the most effective tools are also the simplest.
“The best things are very simple. Pillboxes with places for each day’s morning and evening pills are great. Some older people may have hard time with caps, so often the pharmacist will fill pillboxes for people, or a family member can it set up for the next week or month,” Dr. Foody says.
And the simple trick of putting your pillbox next to your toothbrush is great for remembering your morning and evening doses. Many people use a large, prominently posted wall calendar to help them keep track of scheduled doses, as well as a record of the medications they have taken and when they took them.
And as you might expect, there are smartphone apps for this. One is the free CardioSmart Med Reminder (www.cardiosmart.org/Tools/Med-Reminder), developed by the American College of Cardiology. The app, like others available for free or for a small charge, tells you when to take your next dose and keeps a record of doses you’ve taken—a handy record for your next visit to the cardiologist. CardioSmart and some of the other apps also offer drug information and other handy tools such as a one-tap call to your pharmacy.
Dr. Foody consulted on the creation of CardioSmart. “What we’ve tried to create is a good, go-to resource for people with heart disease that has scientifically credible info,” she says. “It is a virtual office, a toolkit to help manage heart disease.”
The new technology doesn’t stop there. Smart pillboxes light up and even call your mobile phone when it’s time to take a dose. Some prevent overdose by locking until it’s time to take your pills; some call your caregiver if you miss a dose. Most of these smart devices connect to an online record tracking your medication use in your electronic health record.?