Maintaining your heart health is just as important now as it’s always been.
As you navigate your health these days, you might wonder if it’s safe to have a regular office visit with your doctor. Or maybe you’re not sure how you’ll keep up with your medications.
Fortunately, there’s good news. You have plenty of options to protect your heart that are not only safe, but might even make staying on top of your heart health easier.
Keeping your heart strong
People take heart medications for many reasons, such as regulating their heartbeat, lowering their cholesterol or controlling their blood pressure — so taking them regularly is important for your heart’s health.
"When you suddenly stop taking your heart medications, you increase the risk for complications, like increased blood pressure, or in extreme cases, having a heart attack," says Dr. Alfred Casale, chief medical officer for surgical services, chair of Geisinger’s Heart Institute and chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery. "That's why it's very important to talk to your cardiologist before you stop taking any medications."
If you have concerns about your heart medications, your doctor can discuss your options, including things like automatic prescription refills and switching to a 90-day supply of your medications.
Over the past several weeks, many non-emergency surgeries and doctor’s appointments have been rescheduled — which means you may be seeing your doctor later than originally planned.
Soon, we will begin reopening many clinics and doctors’ offices, making many in-person appointments available once again.
But it the meantime, what do you do when you can’t see your cardiologist? The answer is simple — telemedicine.
Cardiology telemedicine appointments — keeping you connected to your doctor
With a telemedicine cardiology visit, your doctor comes to you — virtually. If you have a computer, tablet or smartphone, you can see your cardiologist from the comfort of your own home, safely and securely. You can even stay in your pajamas.
Use your visit to discuss your heart health with your doctor, ask questions and address any concerns, just like you would at a traditional appointment. By keeping communication open with your doctor, you can work together to stay heart-healthy and feel your best.
“Keeping your heart healthy is especially important these days,” says Dr. Casale. “You can stay on top of your heart health without even getting in the car or having to sit in a waiting room.”
During your telemedicine visit, your cardiologist can also refill any prescriptions and coordinate medication schedules, so you take all your medications at the same time.
If you have to manage a variety of medications at different times of the day, it can be confusing — but there are many ways to stay organized.
How to stay on top of your medications
There are many ways to keep track of your prescriptions. And just a few simple steps can help you coordinate everything, so you don’t forget to take your medications.
- Write it down: If you have multiple medications to manage, start by writing them all down. Each week, make a list of what pills you need to take and when. You can use your calendar or a note pad. Cross off that day’s medications as soon as you take them.
- Use your phone: There are a variety of free pill reminder apps you can download if you have a smartphone or tablet. Use these to keep track of when you took your medicine and when you’re due for a refill.
- Enroll in automatic refills: Getting notifications when it’s time to refill your prescriptions means you’ll never run out of your medicine. Learn more at Geisinger.org/pharmacy.
- Invest in a pill organizer: A pill organizer allows you to sort your medicine by day and even time of day. Place all your pills for the week into their individual daily compartments to take the guesswork out of taking your medicine.
- Switch to mail-order prescriptions: During your next visit, ask your doctor to send your prescriptions to a mail-order pharmacy. Instead of your regular 30-day supply, you’ll get 90-days’ worth of your medicine sent right to your door. You’ll save time by not having to go to the pharmacy, and you may even save money on the cost of your prescriptions with a larger supply. If you’re a Geisinger Health Plan member, ask your doctor about sending your prescriptions right to Geisinger’s mail-order pharmacy.
- Set an alarm: Doing this can remind you when it’s time to take your medicine, so you never miss a dose.
- Ask for help: If you find that it’s difficult to manage your medications, don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a family member, friend or neighbor. They may be able to call you or come over when it’s time to take your medicine.
“Organizing and keeping track of your medication doesn’t have to be difficult. By using the help of a gadget, calendar or loved one, you’ll never miss a dose,” Dr. Casale notes.
Make an appointment with a cardiologist
Learn about telemedicine virtual visits
Learn about free Rx delivery or no-contact curbside pickup
Geisinger Health Plan members: Learn about mail-order pharmacy or call 844-878-5562