Medicines to Avoid With Heart Failure: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Your doctor gave you medicines to help treat your heart failure. But did you know that many other medicines can make heart failure worse? Even medicines and natural health products that you buy over the counter (OTC) can harm you.

Be sure your doctor knows all of the OTC and prescription drugs you take. And don't start to take any medicine unless your doctor says it's okay.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Over-the-counter drugs

  • Talk to your doctor before you use these drugs:
    • Pain relievers called NSAIDs. These include ibuprofen and naproxen. Use acetaminophen instead. For example, you can take Tylenol for pain or fever.
    • Low-dose aspirin. If your doctor has told you to take aspirin every day for your heart, follow his or her instructions on how much to take. Do not take aspirin for pain.
    • Antacids or laxatives. Do not take ones that have sodium in them. These include Alka-Seltzer.
    • Cold, cough, flu, or sinus medicines. Read the label. Do not take ones that have pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, phenylephrine, or oxymetazoline in them. And make sure they don't have aspirin or ibuprofen in them. Watch for all of these in allergy medicines, nose sprays, and herbal products too.
  • For pain or fever, choose acetaminophen.

Prescription drugs

  • If any doctor prescribes these drugs for you, make sure he or she knows that you have heart failure. Talk to your doctor or heart specialist before you take:
    • Calcium channel blockers. These include nifedipine. If you need to take this type of drug for another health problem, your doctor will closely watch your health.
    • Heart rhythm drugs. These include flecainide and propafenone. These can treat a fast or uneven heart rhythm.
    • Prescription NSAIDs. These include celecoxib (Celebrex).
    • Certain medicines for diabetes. These include pioglitazone and rosiglitazone.
    • Certain antibiotics. They may cause problems if you also take digoxin. So talk with your doctor if you need to take both of these medicines.

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