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LVAD Medications
Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:27pm

Your doctor or clinician may prescribe several different medications and supplements to support your overall health and heart function, and to prevent complications related to the LVAD. It’s very important that you:

  • Take your medications as instructed by your doctor, in the right amounts and at the right times.
  • Try to take your medications as close as possible to the same times every day.
  • Use a pill sorter and/or a chart or checklist to help you keep track of your medications. Your LVAD coordinator may give you a chart for tracking your medications. You can also use the blank medication chart below to print out and fill in with your medication names and doses.
  • Do not double up on your next dose if you miss a dose by accident. Ask your LVAD team what to do if you miss a dose.
  • Bring extra medication with you if you travel, in case your plans change or you’re unexpectedly delayed. If you are traveling by plane or train, bring medications in your carry-on bag; do not put them in checked luggage.
  • Reorder refills early enough so that you won’t run out. Keep in mind that your doctor’s office may have limited hours on the weekend or around holidays, which could affect your ability to get refills. Emergency situations like impending severe weather could also prevent you from getting refills in time. Plan ahead!

Common Types of Medications for LVAD Patients

Everyone has different medication needs, based on their current health status and medical history. Below are some of the typical kinds of medications taken by LVAD patients. Your LVAD team will prescribe the right combination of medications for you.

Coumadin (warfarin) — Most LVAD patients are prescribed Coumadin (warfarin) to help prevent blood clots from forming inside the pump. While taking Coumadin, you’ll need to be careful about how much Vitamin K you’re getting from foods and dietary supplements, as it can interfere with the effectiveness of the Coumadin. Read more about Coumadin and diet.

You’ll have regular blood tests to monitor your Coumadin level, to prevent you from bleeding or getting clots too easily. It’s important that you get these tests as ordered. Notify your clinicians if you develop unusual bleeding problems, like excessive bruising, nose bleeds, bloody stools or vomiting blood, or if you fall or suffer a trauma that may cause unexpected bleeding issues.

Beta Blockers — These drugs help the heart beat more slowly and with less force, which helps reduce blood pressure. Beta blockers also help blood vessels open up, to improve circulation.

Ace Inhibitors/ARBs — Your doctor may prescribe Ace Inhibitors/ARBs to help reduce your blood pressure.

Calcium Channel Blockers —These drugs can help reduce blood pressure by relaxing the heart muscle and blood vessels.

Diuretics — Diuretics, sometimes called water pills, help rid your body of salt (sodium) and water. They are sometimes used to treat high blood pressure and edema (swelling, usually in the feet and ankles).

PDE5 Inhibitors (Revatio or Tadalafil) — These types of medication are sometimes used to help prevent abnormally high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, which can cause the right side of the heart to have to work harder.

Aspirin – Many patients with LVADs receive aspirin or other antiplatelet medicines to help thin the blood and prevent blood clots.

Milrinone — Milrinone belongs to a class of medications known as inotropes, which help the heart contract, allowing it to pump blood more effectively. It also helps lower unusually high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, which can cause the right side of the heart to have to work harder.

Supplements — Iron, potassium and magnesium are mineral supplements frequently prescribed for LVAD patients.

Remember, every LVAD patient takes a different combination of medications. Your LVAD team will prescribe the medications that are best for you. Your job is to make sure you take them regularly and exactly as directed.