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Taking over-the-counter medicines

Learn the names and dosages of the medicines prescribed for you. When you select an over-the-counter medicine, including herbs and vitamins, tell your pharmacist which heart medicines you are taking, and ask if a particular over-the-counter medicine is safe for you.

Medicine rules

  • Write down your doctor's instructions.
  • Ask your pharmacist to repeat the instructions to you clearly.
  • Write down what you take and when.
  • Take your medicine exactly as prescribed.
  • Remember to refill your prescriptions on time.
  • Don't skip a dose.

If you have heart failure, the following tips may help.

The safest cough and cold medicines for you

  • chlorpheniramine (Chlortrimeton®)
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    Treats sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy nose, or sore throat caused by colds, hay fever or other allergies.

    Learn more about chlorpheniramine here.

  • guifenesin with dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM®)
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    Treats a cough caused by colds, the flu, and other conditions.

    Learn more about dextromethorphan here.

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    Treats a dry, irritated cough caused by the flu or the common cold.

    Learn more about antitussive/expectorants here.

  • loratadine (Claritin®)
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    Treats allergy (hay fever) symptoms and hives.

    Learn more about loratadine here.

Medicines and ingredients in medicines that you should check with your doctor about or not take

These contain stimulants that make your heart work harder:

Medicines that are high in sodium

Medicines that may cause you to retain sodium and fluid

Complementary medicines (herbs, vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements and natural products)

These products may seem harmless because they are "natural," but they may also interfere with the work of your prescribed medicines.

Talk with your health care team or your pharmacist before starting a new herbal, vitamin or other alternative medicine therapy. Also tell your team what you are currently taking.



Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Helping Your Heart, fourth edition, cvs-ahc-90648

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 06/01/2007

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts