One of the only things more frightening than having a heart attack is having another one. That’s why, if you or someone you love has had a heart attack, it’s important to understand the life-saving benefits of prescription medicines called beta blockers.
Beta blockers are drugs that protect the heart muscle and make it easier for the heart to beat normally. Studies show that heart attack survivors who take a beta blocker for life can reduce the chance of another heart attack or cardiac-related death by up to 40 percent. Both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend that nearly everyone who has had a heart attack should be on long-term beta blocker therapy everyday, for life.
Talk to a doctor
If you or someone close to you has suffered from a heart attack, talk to a doctor about the benefits of taking beta blockers to reduce the risk of a recurrence. Chances are the doctor prescribed a beta blocker in the hours and days after the heart attack. If beta blockers were not prescribed, or if a patient has stopped taking the medication, consult a physician to find out about the benefits of ongoing beta blocker therapy as part of the recovery process.
Here are a few questions you could ask:
Is a beta blocker an appropriate course of treatment?
Are there side effects to watch out for?
Is there a generic version of the beta blocker available?
Will the beta blocker interfere with any other medicines prescribed?
Protect the heart every day
Staying on a beta blocker can help heart attack survivors live longer, but the medicine works best if it is taken every day. That isn’t always easy. Here are some simple ways patients can make sure they are getting all of the lifesaving benefits from beta blockers:
Take the beta blocker at the same time every day.
Use a watch alarm as a reminder.
Ask someone to help you remember when to take the medicine.
Write the prescription refill date on a calendar; order refills before you run out.
If you believe you are having side effects, talk to your doctor right away. Side effects may go away or your doctor may make changes to the medication.
Don’t stop taking your medicine unless your doctor tells you to. Stopping a beta blocker suddenly can be unsafe.
By following a healthy lifestyle and taking a beta blocker for life, heart attack survivors can help keep their heart healthy. And remember – your doctor or pharmacist can answer any questions about beta blockers and other medications. Visit MyHealth@Anthem powered by WebMD at www.anthem.com for more information on heart health.
This information is brought to you through Anthem’s participation in the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH), a collaboration of America’s leading health plans and networks. The CAQH heartBBEAT for lifesm program seeks to educate Americans about the lifelong benefits of beta blockers after a heart attack, and to encourage those who have had a heart attack to talk to their doctors about these lifesaving medicines. Reprinted with permission of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield; Copyright 2004 Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.