You will need to take medications the rest of your life to prevent your body from rejecting your new heart and to treat other medical problems. Always take your medications as directed. By the time you leave the hospital, you should be taking all of your medications without help from the nurses.
You must know:
- The names of your medications and what they look like
- What they are used for
- The dosage (how much to take and how often)
- The possible side effects
- What times to take them
Points to Remember
- Always report changes in your condition to your transplant coordinator or transplant cardiologist.
- Never stop or change your medications without first consulting your transplant coordinator or transplant cardiologist.
- Always call the transplant coordinator before taking any new medications other than those prescribed by the transplant team. This includes any over-the-counter medications, nutrition supplements or herbal therapies. Some medications may interact with your transplant medications and cause side effects. For example, St. John's Wort affects your cyclosporin level and should never be taken after transplantation.
- Take your medications at the same time every day. Develop a system that helps you remember to take your medications at the right time(s) each day. Keep a record of your medications and when you take them. Bring an updated list of your medications and records to each follow-up appointment.
- If you forget to take a dose, resume your normal medication schedule.
- Do not take a double dose at one time.
- If you are ill and vomit soon after taking your medication or have diarrhea for more than one day, call your doctor. Do not take a second dose of your medication without talking to your doctor.
- Special containers, such as weekly pill boxes may help you remember to take your pills. But, store all remaining medications in their proper containers, with medication name, dosage, and expiration date listed, to avoid confusion and loss of potency.
- Keep all medications in a dry place, away from moisture, heat, or direct light.
- Keep all medications with you when you travel. Do not pack them in suitcases that may be lost or detained.
- Always bring your medications with you to your follow-up visits.
- Don't wait until you're almost out before you refill your prescriptions. Some pharmacies need to order your immunosuppressants, so keep ahead of schedule. Check your supply before vacations, holidays, and other occasions when you may not be able to obtain it. Your Transplant Coordinator is available to call in refill orders to your pharmacy during normal office hours (Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.)
- Talk to your transplant coordinator if you are uncertain about a medication or its dose.
- Call the transplant team if you have any side effects.