Breakfast Pills for Heart Patients

This is my morning dose of pills now that I’m 5 months out from quintuple bypass surgery  — a combo of pills designed to keep my blood pressure low and my circulatory system as plaque-free as possible.

The only outlier among the pills that might not be taken by someone with high blood pressure and high cholesterol is the Pradaxa. It’s a new type of blood thinner that I’m taking because I still have occasional short bouts of Atrial Fibrillation post surgery. Hopefully this will abate before my next check up in February and I can stop taking them. Blood thinners are prescribed for chronic Afib patients because if you have it blood can pool, then clot in the irregularly beating atria. The clots can then head to your brain and cause a stroke, or they can block heart supplying blood vessels and cause a heart attack.

Prior to the Pradaxa I was on Warfarin to thin my blood, which is a much harder drug to manage. Staying in the therapeutic zone for properly thin blood while taking Warfarin is difficult while maintaining a heart healthy diet – leafy green veggies and anything else with high levels of vitamin K can wipe out the effects of the low dose rat poison. Finding the proper dose for an individual takes quite a bit of tweaking and blood lab testing. Initially you start out at weekly tests to measure clotting factors and time, and once you near the dosage range appropriate for you then it goes to biweekly tests to ensure proper levels. To get there I had to go 5mg per day 5 days a week, and 7.5 mg per day 2 days per week. It required pill cutting and keeping a log since I am particularly scatter brained when it comes to remembering to take … or not take, a pill.

The benefits of taking Pradaxa vs. Warfarin are that I don’t have to go get a blood test every other week, and I can consume salads, spinach, and other healthy veggies without worrying about vitamin K levels.

Obviously when you are on a blood thinner and trying to get healthy it can complicate things. Since you are more prone to excessive bleeding due to your artificially suppressed clotting factors, exercise that can jar, stretch, or tear your mesentery or other tissues infused with delicate blood vessels overmuch and exercise that puts you in elevated danger of falling are both out. I won’t be punching the heavy bag for awhile. Running is out for me because I know I’m a bit clumsy and graceless – while I can run with the best of them (high school track team) I am more likely to fall while doing so. This also puts hiking on hills out and bicycling out. So I am stuck with walking on relatively flat terrain, stationary bikes, and stationary exercise for the most part. You aren’t going to catch me on the trampoline until after I stop the thinners. Chopping broccoli and mango knife fights are also not good ideas.

The Fish oil pill is to raise my levels of “good cholesterol” since that makes it harder for plaques to form and helps keep the “bad cholesterol” levels thinned.  Low dose aspirin daily keeps your circulatory system at a therapeutic level of anti-inflammatory acetysalicylic acid – inflammation at a plaque narrowed spot can send those chemical signatures that lead to an artery blocking clot, which in turn can lead to stroke and/or heart attack. [You get a heart attack when the clot blocks an artery that supplies your heart with oxygen, you get a stroke when the clot blocks an artery supplying your brain with oxygen.]

The Benicar/HCT pill is dual purpose – it attacks two high blood pressure factors. The Hydrochlorothiazide acts as a diuretic & lowers my salt levels by making me urinate a lot, and the Benicar is an Angiotensin receptor blocker – meaning it’s shaped to fill the chemical sockets normally filled by Angiotensor agents without making your blood vessels constrict. This in turn keeps the Angiotensors from working to raise your blood pressure.

Lastly the Cardizem CD aka Diltiaz ER is a calcium channel blocker that keeps your calcium levels in heart and other major vessels low – this leads to vasodilation and slightly slower heartbeat, both good things for me, and for others with high blood pressure.

** DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor nor am I a biologist: you must consult your own doctor before considering taking any of these meds yourself.