Learn about your medication

When you have a sudden cardiac arrest there’s a good chance that you’ll come out of the hospital with a pot of tablets to take.  However, an SCA is unlike any one disease or injury in that it can have many causes and so any medications you have will likely be reflective of the underlying condition that caused the event.

If you are given a firm reason for your SCA or you are diagnosed with a condition you would be wise to educate yourself as much as possible about it so that you know the ramifications of any medications you are prescribed.

Those diagnosed as idiopathic (no known cause) may wonder if they should be prescribed with any medications as there is no actual known condition to treat.  However, many (although not all) will leave hospital with an ICD and possibly some beta blockers .

diagnosis it one of the cornerstones to support proper functioning of your heart is medication. The drugs that are recommended for heart failure are proven to help your symptoms, improve your outlook, and increase your life expectancy.

Tips on taking medications

  • Be in charge of your own medication
  • Know exactly what you’re taking and why you are taking it.
  • Medication can sometimes make you feel worse before it makes you feel better. Don’t give up or suddenly stop taking your medication without first discussing it with your Doctor.
  • It can be a slow process to get to the dose of a medication that works best for you. Sometimes tablets have to be started at low doses and gradually increased. Don’t get discouraged – you will get there in the end.
  • You may need to take a lot of tablets – they’ve all got a role to play.
  • Try not to miss taking your medication and make sure you take each one on time and as recommended. A daily tablet organiser can do wonders.
  • Remember, this is a partnership between you and your healthcare professional, so discuss how your medications are making you feel with them and if you have any questions or need any help, just ask.
  • Be aware that any change in your antiarrhythmic medication regime will mean a temporary driving suspension of one month

Whilst every survivors medication regime is likely to be unique to the individual there are a number of common drug types that seem to be prescribed…

Beta Blockers

Bisoprolol, Atenolol, Carvedilol, Nebivolol, Metoprolol, Propranolol

Beta-blockers (beta-adrenoceptor blocking agents) work mainly by decreasing the activity of the heart by blocking the action of hormones like adrenaline.

Beta Blockers are a cornerstone therapy in the treatment of arrhythmias, their job is to make the heart beat slower but stronger, and can also be helpful with other symptoms i.e. angina, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, anxiety

Beta Blockers are usually taken once or twice a day. These drugs are started very slowly and gradually increased. They make your heart beat slower, but stronger therefore increasing the flow of blood around your body.

They can make you feel worse before they make you feel better, so hang in there, however if you are concerned, if your breathing worsens, or you are getting extremely dizzy and unsteady then speak to your health care professional.

Read more on Beta-Blockers at the NHS Website


Warfarin, Apixaban, Rivaroxaban, Dabigatran, Edoxaban

Anticoagulants are medicines that help prevent blood clots. They’re given to people at a high risk of getting clots, to reduce their chances of developing serious conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.

Treatment with anticoagulants may be recommended if your doctor feels you’re at an increased risk of developing one of these problems. This may be because you’ve had blood clots in the past or you’ve been diagnosed with a condition such as atrial fibrillation that can cause blood clots to form.

You may also be prescribed an anticoagulant if you’ve recently had surgery, as the period of rest and inactivity you need during your recovery can increase your risk of developing a blood clot.

Read more on Anticoagulants at the NHS website.

This video may be quite useful even though it’s from the US National Stroke Association.

Loop diuretic

Furoesmide, Bumetanide Ethacrynic Acid, Torsemide

These are commonly known as water tablets, and are the drugs that you may have been on via a drip post cardiac arrest.

People often complain about their water tablets as they have to visit the toilet much more frequently, they are called diuretics. This is a good thing even if it can be very difficult to manage. The water tablet is getting rid of any excess fluid you may have in your body via the kidneys hence passing out more urine. The fluid can gather especially in your legs, stomach or even in your lungs, which can make you so breathless.

They can make you feel dizzy as they can reduce your blood pressure and you may experience muscle cramps.  Expect to have frequent blood tests to make sure your kidneys are working efficiently.

Read more on Loop Diuretics at the website

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