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YOUR HEALTH: A better way to take life-saving drugs

ORLANDO, Florida – Just taking your drugs can be an overwhelming effort for people with heart problems. That leads to some patients ignoring their prescriptions altogether.

The American Heart Association says one out of four heart attack patients don't fill their prescriptions within a week after discharge and more than a third of all heart attack patients with more than one prescription stop taking at least one drug within the first month.

Now doctors are trying to make sure their heart patients take the drugs they need to keep them alive.

That includes patients like 42-year old Kimby Jagnandan. She's a heart attack survivor who does what she can to help her heart.

"I now have, you know, a device that captures my steps.  So I'm making sure that I watch to see how many steps I'm getting in daily."

Kimby also tries to eat right, and follow her doctors orders, which she admits is not easy.

"I'm on a lot of medicine, a lot, pretty much every cardiac medication that you can be on."

Dr, Duane Davis is a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon at the Cardiovascular Institute at Florida Hospital.

"The average number of medications that somebody with cardiovascular disease is gonna be more than four and it can be as many as 20," said Dr. Davis.

Dr. Davis says getting patients to take all of the heart medication they need is a big problem.

"They can be life-saving medicines and not taking them can result in the loss of life," he said.

So Florida Hospital's Alliance for Innovation Development is pairing with the medical company, Panaceutics, to test a solution.

Right now, Panaceutics produces nutritional supplements in portable packets.

The idea is to have patients take several heart medications combined into a single, edible dose.

"This is a strategy to actually simplify," said Dr. Davis.   "To get all the medicines that are necessary into something that actually isn't bad to take. It actually may taste good."

Kimby agrees.

"I went on vacation this summer, and I think I spent more time packing and organizing my medication for the vacation than I did my suitcase."

For some patients, a solution that someday soon might make a difference.

HEART FAILURE MEDICATIONS:   Studies have shown that several different medications may be the best treatment options for heart failure.   Patients with heart failure may need to take multiple medications for different symptoms and contributing factors, as each one treats different things and comes with its own instructions and rules.   These medications cannot do their job correctly if not taken properly, and patients need to work with their healthcare teams to understand exactly what needs to be taken, how it should be taken, and how often.   It's important to understand their desired effects and possible side effects, and to discuss these with your personal healthcare provider if you notice any changes. It is critically important that persons take their medications as directed by their healthcare provider and by following prescribed directions they will have the best chances of benefitting from these treatment recommendations.   The use of these drugs has been shown to save lives, prolong life and improve the heart`s function.    (Source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartFailure/TreatmentOptionsForHeartFailure/Medications-Used-to-Treat-Heart-Failure_UCM_306342_Article.jsp#)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.