10 February 2010

Antihypertensive drugs - advice to users

This section gives you advice on what to do at the doctor, the pharmacy and at home.


What to do at the doctor

  • Make sure that you understand your condition and risk factors.
  • Discuss your hypertension management plan with your doctor, and what is expected from you regarding lifestyle changes and follow-up dates. Commit to keeping all appointments with your doctor.
  • Know your blood pressure reading and also your goal blood pressure.
  • Tell your doctor if you ever had liver or kidney disease.
  • Inform your doctor about ANY medication you are taking. Don’t forget about OTC (over-the-counter) drugs and contraceptives.
  • Tell your doctor if you might be pregnant, feeding or planning a baby. If you are breastfeeding, remind your doctor.
  • Mention any previous allergy or adverse reaction to drugs.
  • Ask your doctor about the drugs you are prescribed, how to take it and what to expect.
  • Learn the name, strength and dosage of your medication.
  • Report any side-effects to your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Discuss with your doctor whether you need to wear a warning bracelet.

What to do at the pharmacy

  • Choose a pharmacy and develop a good relationship with the health professionals there. This is important, especially if you receive prescriptions from different doctors, for example from your GP, specialist or dentist. Your pharmacist can alert you to any possible drug interactions. This includes the OTC drugs that you might buy at that pharmacy, like slimming aids etc.
  • Before buying any OTC drugs, always remind your pharmacist of your chronic condition and drugs.
  • Allow the pharmacist to reinforce the instructions of how and when to take your drugs.
  • Do not run out of medication, not even for one day.
  • Ask about main side effects and whether the drugs could cause drowsiness or dizziness before driving.
  • Always go through the drugs with your pharmacist to ensure that the correct drug, strength and dosage is on the label.

What to do at home

  • Most people fear the unknown. Learn about your condition. It will empower and motivate you. Use sites like Health 24 to understand and manage your health.
  • When taking medication for a chronic condition, it is very important to devise a system to help you adhere to treatment. Your health is at stake and no management plan can succeed without your full participation.
  • Keep your drugs in their original containers and in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight.
  • All drugs are dangerous to children. Drugs have to be LOCKED AWAY and kept out of reach of little hands. Rather use a note or empty container as a reminder.
  • Never stop your medication without consulting your doctor, it could be dangerous.
  • Stick to the same rules when going on holiday. If you are going to be driving, please inform your doctor. Plan ahead and don’t run out of medication. Ask your doctor whether you should have a referral letter with you, in case you need to see a doctor while on holiday.

(Written by Dr Kathleen Coetzee, MBChB.

Read more:
Changing your lifestyle
Hypertension and your weight

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