Medicines

Taking your medicines as directed is important for your new heart and general health. This page includes information about each of your medicines, including their use, dose, and side effects.

Read through these and get to know how to safely take each of your medicines.

General information

You will be taking medicines to keep your body from rejecting your new heart (immunosuppressants). You will also need to take vitamins and minerals.

Your medicines will be prescribed to meet your needs. You will not be taking every medicine listed in this chapter. You may also need other medicines that are not listed.

Talk with your transplant coordinator, doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns about your medicine.

What not to do

  • Do not stop taking any of your medicines without the approval of your transplant surgeon, cardiologist or transplant coordinator.
    • Even if you are feeling well or had your transplant many years ago, stopping your medicines could cause rejection or other serious problems.
  • Do not take medicines that are not prescribed by your transplant surgeon or cardiologist. If anyone else prescribes a medicine, check first with your transplant surgeon, cardiologist, transplant coordinator or transplant pharmacist.
    • Many medicines can interact with your immuno-suppressive medicines and change the levels in your blood after just one dose.
    • All new prescriptions must be approved before you take your first dose
  • Do not change the doses of your medicines on your own.
  • Do not share your medicines with others.
  • Do not take antacids (such as Tums® or Rolaids®) within two hours of taking your medicines. Antacids may decrease how well your body takes in the medicines.
  • Do not run out of your medicines. If you were to run out late in the evening or on a weekend, it may be hard to find a pharmacy that can fill your prescriptions. Talk with your pharmacist about setting up a refill schedule.

What to do

  • Stick with the same routine for taking your medicines. This will help you remember when to take your medicines. The levels of medicine in your blood will be consistent.
  • If you forget to take a dose of medicine, take it as soon as you remember. If it is more than two hours, call the transplant coordinator for instructions.
  • If you want to take any other medicine - including over-the-counter medicines, herbal or "natural" products, or dietary supplements - check with your transplant surgeon, cardiologist, transplant coordinator or transplant pharmacist.
  • Have all of your prescriptions refilled at the same pharmacy.
  • Using acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is generally safe. If you take too much or take it on a regular basis, you can get side effects.
    • Do not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) or naproxen (Aleve®).
    • If you have any side effects, please tell your regular doctor or transplant coordinator.
  • All medicines may have side effects. But just because a side effect is noted on the package does not mean you will have any of them.
    • If you have any side effects, please tell your regular doctor or transplant coordinator.
  • The chance of getting a side effect goes down when the amount of medicine you take is lowered. The side effects will also become less severe.
  • When you travel, always keep your medicines with you. If you are traveling by plane, place them in a carry-on bag, not your checked luggage.
  • Store your medicines away from children and pets.
  • Keep your medicines in their original bottles.
  • Unless your doctor gives you other directions, keep your medicines at room temperature.
    • Do not leave medicines in your car or trunk during hot or cold weather. If any of your medicines freeze, throw them away and start a new bottle.
    • Do not keep your medicines in the kitchen or bath-room. The humidity could affect how well they work.

When to call your transplant coordinator

Please call your transplant coordinator right away if you have any of these symptoms:  

  • blurred vision
  • trouble breathing
  • seizures
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • fainting
  • problems urinating
  • severe diarrhea
  • blood in urine or stool
  • fast or irregular heartbeats
  • yellowing of your skin or eyes
  • severe skin rash or hives
  • fever of 101.5 F or higher

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Care After Heart Transplant, cvs-ah-95405 (1/18)
First Published: 01/06/2013
Last Reviewed: 01/19/2018