Heart failure

Attitudes to medication for heart failure

People commonly said that they didn’t like having to take medicines to treat their heart failure but accepted that it was necessary or that it had improved their condition. Although many disliked having to take lots of pills every day most said they always took their medication no matter what and had never considered not taking it. Some didn’t like the idea of taking certain medicines because of the risk of side effects or complications.
Taking tablets could be upsetting or depressing because it interfered with normal activities. One man said he had once or twice felt so angry at being dependent on drugs that he had thrown his pills across the room, and another said that he preferred not to take pills at lunchtime because he didn't want his life to become 'a pill-taking exercise'. One man said he didn’t like taking soluble aspirin because it gets stuck in his false teeth and he needs to flush his mouth with lots of water to get rid of it. Another objected to being prescribed a statin because his cholesterol level wasn’t particularly high since his diet excludes meat and dairy products, but said he takes the tablets sometimes to pacify his doctors.

These feelings meant that some had been tempted to not take all their medicines but most recognised that it would be foolish to do that because they would become more ill and it would be unfair on those people who would have to deal with the consequences. However, others had deliberately missed doses of their medicine to see if it would have any effect on them.
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Another man didn’t take all his doses of statin or aspirin because he didn’t think he needed them, whereas he adheres religiously to his beta blocker dosages because he considers this medicine more important to his health. A woman who had been prescribed digitalis when she was young stopped taking this medicine when she moved area because she hadn’t been regularly monitored and didn’t see the need for it. A man had not taken all doses of his digoxin because it was inconvenient when working underground as a miner; his doctor noticed from the repeat prescriptions that the tablets were not being consumed at the proper rate, got angry and stopped the medicine altogether, but the man noticed little effect on his symptoms.
 
The need for supportive treatments such as an anti-depressant was sometimes queried and one man had weaned himself off them; Richard had refused to take them.
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Most people said they always adhered to their medication regimen and had never considered not taking them, either because they were happy with their medication or because they trusted their doctor’s advice.

 




Summary added in April 2016.

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