Are You Getting The Correct Dose Of Heart Medications?

There are millions of people taking regular heart medications. With advancement of medical technology and increasing awareness, use of heart medications is on the rise. However, several new studies have shown that patients might not be getting the correct dose of heart medications available in the market today. So, are you getting the correct dose of heart medications? Let us understand about heart medications and ways to get them in correct dose.

Are You Getting The Correct Dose Of Heart Medications?

Are You Getting The Correct Dose Of Heart Medications?

If you are wondering, whether you are getting the correct dose of heart medication, knowing about these studies can help.

  • The first study has been published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and it examined the newly launched blood thinners such as Xarelto and Eliquis. The study found evidence that nearly one in every six patients were not getting the right dosage of the medication. This is likely to increase their risk of having serious complications from consuming an extra dose of the medication such as internal bleeding.
  • The second study was published in the journal Hypertension, and it found evidence that many patients who were on medication for high blood pressure are likely taking a lower dosage of the medications, thus having reduced number of side effects, but reduced efficiency as well.
  • A third study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, revealed that risk calculations of patients who were assessed for the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease were off the correct dosage of medication by nearly 20 percent. The study also determined that black men were particularly being misestimated.

These studies have worked to a great extent in understanding and revealing the fact that many people are not getting the correct dose of heart medications. Overall, all these studies determined that there are a substantially large number of patients who are either being over treated or undertreated, which is a very dangerous trend.

Being over treated means that these patients are consuming unnecessary medication and at the same time, subjecting themselves to the potentially dangerous side effects of these medications. Not to mention the amount of money that is being spent on the dosage which is not required. On the other hand, patients who are being undertreated are probably not receiving their proper treatment for actually prevent conditions like a stroke and heart attack.

Correct Dose Of Heart Medications – Blood Thinners

There are millions of people who are taking blood thinners such as Pradaxa (dabigatran), Eliquis (apixaban), or Xarelto (rivaroxaban), on a regular basis for atrial fibrillation. It is a heart condition that causes rapid and irregular heartbeat, thus significantly increasing the risk of a stroke. These blood thinners are considered to be a newer class of medication and are known to be equally, if not more, effective as warfarin, which was the most commonly used blood-thinning drug in the past. These new class of drugs also have lesser side effects.

But again the question is whether they are being given at the correct dose. The study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, found that out of 15,000 patients who participated in the study, 16% of them were receiving the wrong dosage of these blood thinners. This severely undermines the effectiveness of the medication, thus increasing the possibility of having fatal complications.

  • A classic example of why you should be worried about getting the correct dose of heart medications is here. Blood thinners are, at present, available in two dosages. One is a standard dosage and the other is a lower dosage which is prescribed for patients who have kidney problems.
  • It is noted that nearly 10% of patients who suffer from atrial fibrillation are also affected with severe kidney disease.
  • In spite of the two separate dosages, it is seen that nearly 45% of patients having kidney issues are receiving the standard dose. When this category of patients receives the standard dosage instead of the lower dosage, it increases their risk of major internal bleeding.
  • On the other hand, 13% of patients who did not have any kidney problems were receiving the lower dosage, thus not witnessing any potential benefit from taking the medication.
  • Effectively, the overdosed group also did not have any reduction in their risk of getting a stroke, and at the same time, the under dosed group of patients also did not perceive any reduction in the risk of having internal bleeding.

The question that arises is, why some patients are not getting correct dose of heart medications. The reason may be related to lack of medical follow-up and routine investigations to monitor side effects of medications, incorrect understanding and evaluation of medical history or sometimes, the presence of co-morbid conditions complicating the medical management.

Consider this, if an 80-year-old patient comes in with the problem of atrial fibrillation, doctors will, of course, be reluctant to prescribe a full dose of blood thinners to an elderly patient. Similarly, if a younger and seemingly healthy patient comes in with the same condition, the doctor will not hesitate to prescribe a higher dose to this patient, without considering the impact it may have on their kidney function.

So What Can Be Done?

Anyone who is concerned about getting the correct dose of heart medications, must first make sure to give all medical details to the doctor. This not only includes medical history, but also information about other medicines, past and family medical history. Also, important is to ask relevant questions to the doctor regarding the treatment and dosage given to you, to ensure you are getting the correct dose of heart medication.

On Heart Medications? Ask Your Doctor these Questions?

If you are on heart medications or blood thinners, then you should ask and confirm certain things from your doctor. This will only increase your chances of getting the correct dose of heart medication.

These should include:

  • What is the status of my kidney function? You should ensure that your doctor checks your kidney function at least once a year, and more than once if you already suffer from some kidney condition. Based on checks, your medication dosage can be modified accordingly to get a correct dose of heart medication.
  • What is the basis for determining my medication dosage? You should be aware of whether you have been prescribed the correct dosage for your blood thinners. Do ask your doctor about what kind of dosage they have put you on, whether it is a standard dose or a low dosage. If you are put on the higher dosage, you have to ensure that your doctor first rules out any kidney disease. If you are prescribed a low dose, then you need to ask your doctor the reason for this cautiousness.
  • Can any of the other medications I am having, affect my dosage? There are certain drugs such as antidepressants (Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline), anticonvulsant (Carbatrol (carbamazepine)), and antibiotics (Rifadin (rifampin) or Biaxin (clarithromycin), that are known to interact with heart medications such as blood thinners. This is why it is crucial that your doctor is aware of all the medications that you are on so they can adjust your dosage accordingly and also monitor you closely for any fatal side effects.

Conclusion

It is important to know that you are getting the correct dosage of heart medications. Being over treated or being undertreated can both cause a problem. Therefore, it is important that you work together with your doctor to determine the correct dose of heart medications.

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