(BPT) - After a recent heart attack, the road ahead may seem overwhelming, with many new medications, doctor appointments and lifestyle changes to navigate. This is a critical time to embrace a proactive role in your health because a heart attack is not just a one-time event—after a recent heart attack, you are at an even higher risk of having another one. In fact, approximately 200,000 people in the U.S. suffer a recurrent heart attack each year.
After hospital discharge for heart attack or severe chest pain, also called acute coronary syndrome (ACS), which happened because your heart was not getting enough oxygen, it’s important to work with your doctor to ensure that you are asking the right questions about your health and have a plan of action for ongoing treatment. Matthew Budoff, MD, Professor of Medicine and Program Director, Division of Cardiology at University of California Los Angeles recommends these five steps to help you feel prepared to take charge of your health.
1. Fill any prescriptions given to you at the hospital and ask your doctor for information
Take your health into your own hands from the very start. When you’re discharged from the hospital, your doctor may write you prescriptions for new medications. Managing multiple medicines can be overwhelming, so it is important to start off on the right foot by filling the prescriptions right away, taking the medicines as directed and following any other discharge instructions.
This is a critical time to make sure that you are talking with your doctor and pharmacist about your existing and new medications. You can also do your own research and learn more about your prescriptions by visiting websites to find out more information and even by connecting to other patients who have gone through similar experiences.
Someone who has experienced a heart attack may be prescribed medications including aspirin, ACE inhibitors or ARBs, beta blockers, and statins, which are lipid lowering medications, among other therapies. An important medicine your doctor will likely prescribe is an oral antiplatelet (OAP) prescription medicine, such as BRILINTA® (ticagrelor) 90 mg tablets. BRILINTA is for people who have had a heart attack or severe chest pain that happened because their heart wasn’t getting enough oxygen. BRILINTA is used with aspirin to lower your chance of having another serious problem with your heart or blood vessels such as heart attack, stroke, or blood clots in your stent if you received one. These can be fatal.
2. Make a follow-up appointment with your clinical cardiologist
Next, make a follow-up appointment with your clinical cardiologist to discuss your treatment plan and continue to make decisions together. It is the clinical cardiologist’s responsibility to help patients once they leave the hospital after a heart attack. One study found that patients who are discharged after a heart attack and do not see their doctor within six weeks are less likely to adhere to their medications. Your clinical cardiologist will be with you for the twists and turns of your journey, so it’s a good idea to ensure you’re working together.
3. Prepare for your follow-up appointment
The first doctor’s visit after a heart attack is important. You may be wondering: “When can I go back to work?” “What should I be eating?” “Should I avoid strenuous activity?” “What medications should I be taking?” Some topics to talk to your doctor about include:
- Medication list. Be sure to take a list of your medications and discuss all of your medications, including over the counter (OTC) medications and vitamins, with your doctor to ensure that you know what you should be taking.
- Lifestyle changes. After a heart attack, you must be prepared to make lifestyle modifications. Eating healthier, managing stress, keeping regular medical checkups, setting up medication reminders, and stopping smoking are important. Also, talk to your doctor about the right amount of exercise you should also be getting.
- Medication days’ supply. As your doctor considers your treatment regimen, ask him or her about potential savings programs that are available to you. Some insurance plans or pharmaceutical companies may offer savings programs based on varying days of supply, including 30-day or 90-day prescriptions.
- Strategies to reduce costs. Patient savings programs, savings cards and understanding your health benefits (such as reviewing your health plans before selecting) are all potential strategies. Before filling your medicines, talk to your doctor about free samples to help determine if a medicine works for you. With the BRILINTA savings card, eligible commercially insured patients pay as little as $18 for each and every 90-day prescription.* Check and see if your prescription medicines have savings plans or programs that can help you, including programs such as the BRILINTA Patient Support Service or the AZ&MeTM Prescription Savings Program.
*For eligible patients. Restrictions apply. Eligible patients will receive 100% off their co-pay for one 30-day prescription and will pay as little as $18 for a 30-day, a 60-day, or a 90-day supply, subject to maximum savings of $100 per 30-day supply. Patients who remain eligible are automatically reenrolled each year.
4. Go to your follow-up appointment ready to take charge of your treatment plan
Attend your follow-up appointment with your questions ready. It may help to bring a loved one or caregiver with you, who can also be of great support. Many people who have experienced a heart attack may also have other related cardiovascular or metabolic conditions, such as high cholesterol or diabetes, so it’s important to follow your treatment plan, manage your visits with your doctors and share important information with them so they can understand how best to support your patient journey.
5. Commit to your treatment plan
Even if you’re doing well after a heart attack, it’s important that you follow your treatment plan and talk to your doctor before stopping or changing a medication. If you need help remembering to take your medication, consider simple solutions like pill organizers or setting a reminder on your phone.
Remember to ask your doctor questions about ways to maintain your healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise, smoking cessation and taking your medications as prescribed. Managing your personal health requires discipline, so consider the resources available and take advantage of them. Above all, strive to stay consistent and engaged to have the most control over your health.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION ABOUT BRILINTA® (ticagrelor) 90-mg tablets
BRILINTA is used to lower your chance of having another heart attack or dying from a heart attack or stroke, but BRILINTA (and similar drugs) can cause bleeding that can be serious and sometimes lead to death. Instances of serious bleeding, such as internal bleeding, may require blood transfusions or surgery. While you take BRILINTA, you may bruise and bleed more easily and be more likely to have nosebleeds. Bleeding will also take longer than usual to stop.
Call your doctor right away if you have any signs or symptoms of bleeding while taking BRILINTA, including: severe, uncontrollable bleeding; pink, red, or brown urine; vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds; red or black stool; or if you cough up blood or blood clots.
Do not stop taking BRILINTA without talking to the doctor who prescribes it for you. People who are treated with a stent, and stop taking BRILINTA too soon, have a higher risk of getting a blood clot in the stent, having a heart attack, or dying. If you stop BRILINTA because of bleeding, or for other reasons, your risk of a heart attack or stroke may increase. Tell all your doctors and dentists that you are taking BRILINTA. To decrease your risk of bleeding, your doctor may instruct you to stop taking BRILINTA 5 days before you have surgery. Your doctor should tell you when to start taking BRILINTA again, as soon as possible after surgery.
Take BRILINTA and aspirin exactly as instructed by your doctor. You should not take a dose of aspirin higher than 100 mg daily because it can affect how well BRILINTA works. Tell your doctor if you take other medicines that contain aspirin. Do not take new medicines that contain aspirin.
Do not take BRILINTA if you have a history of bleeding in the brain, are bleeding now, or are allergic to ticagrelor or any of the ingredients in BRILINTA.
BRILINTA can cause serious side effects, including bleeding and shortness of breath. Call your doctor if you have new or unexpected shortness of breath or any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. Your doctor can decide what treatment is needed.
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. BRILINTA may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how BRILINTA works.
BRILINTA is a prescription medicine for people who have had a heart attack or severe chest pain that happened because their heart wasn’t getting enough oxygen.
BRILINTA is used with aspirin to lower your chance of having another serious problem with your heart or blood vessels such as heart attack, stroke, or blood clots in your stent if you received one. These can be fatal.
Please read Medication Guide and Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNINGS for BRILINTA.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Patients can find out more information about BRILINTA at www.brilinta.com or by calling 1-888-412-7454.
AstraZeneca offers the AZ&MeTM Prescription Savings Program. To determine eligibility, patients can visit www.AZandMe.com or call 1-800-AZandMe (292-6363).
Fast Facts about Acute Coronary Syndrome [Editors to use as a side bar]
- More than one million Americans are hospitalized with a heart attack or unstable angina (severe chest pain) every year.
- Patients with a history of a heart attack remain at high and persistent risk for recurrent cardiovascular events.
- Patients who have had a recent heart attack are at higher risk for another cardiovascular event. Up to one in five patients are at risk of a recurrent cardiovascular event or death in the first year post-MI.
- Approximately every 2.6 minutes, someone in the United States has a recurrent heart attack.
3295400 Last Updated 10/16