9 Things to Monitor When Taking Medication for Congenital Heart Disease (CHD)

When it comes to managing CHD, medication plays a crucial role in ensuring optimal heart function and preventing potentially life-threatening complications. However, it’s essential to monitor certain aspects of your health while taking these medications to ensure their effectiveness and avoid potential side effects. Some types of monitoring can be done right at home; other times, you may need to go to your doctor’s office.

Here are some key things for you and your healthcare team should keep an eye on:

1. Blood Pressure

Many medications used to treat congenital heart disease can affect blood pressure levels. It’s crucial to monitor your blood pressure regularly and report any significant changes to your healthcare provider so they can adjust the dosage of the medication accordingly.

2. Heart Rate and Rhythm

Some medications can slow down or speed up your heart rate. A rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) can increase the workload on your heart, while a slow heartbeat (bradycardia) can cause fatigue and dizziness. Your healthcare provider may recommend you wear a heart rate monitor or perform regular pulse checks to monitor your heart rate.

3. Blood Thinning

Medications such as anticoagulants and antiplatelets help prevent blood clots. However, they can also increase the risk of bleeding. Therefore, it is important to monitor your blood-clotting time and check for any signs of bleeding.

4. Electrolyte levels

Certain medications used to treat congenital heart disease can affect the levels of electrolytes in your body, such as potassium, sodium, and magnesium. Imbalances in these electrolytes can lead to muscle weakness, cramping, or heart rhythm disturbances. Your healthcare provider may recommend regular blood tests to monitor your electrolyte levels.

5. Liver Function

It may be necessary to monitor liver function through regular blood tests to ensure your liver is functioning correctly. Signs of liver damage may include yellowing of the skin or eyes, abdominal pain, and fatigue.

6. Kidney Function

Medications like diuretics help remove excess fluid from the body, but they can also affect kidney function, so it’s important to monitor your kidneys through regular blood tests. Signs of kidney damage may include swelling in the legs or feet, decreased urine output, or blood in the urine.

7. Antibiotic Resistance

People with congenital heart disease are at an increased risk of developing infections. When antibiotics are prescribed to prevent or treat infections, their prolonged use can lead to antibiotic resistance. Monitor your response to antibiotics and use antibiotics only when necessary.

8. Adverse Reactions

Be aware of the potential side effects of each of your medications and report any unusual symptoms to your healthcare provider. Some medications can cause allergic reactions, such as rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing. Others may cause gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

9. Interactions

But if you are feeling sad, anxious or depressed where it interferes with your daily life for more than two weeks, it’s time to reach out for assistance.

Keep a list of all medications, supplements, and over-the-counter drugs you are taking and share it with your healthcare provider. Some medications can interact with each other and cause harmful effects. For example, some antibiotics may interact with beta-blockers and lead to an irregular heartbeat.

Work closely with your healthcare provider to make sure your medications are helping and not hurting.

Related Article: Medications for Congenital Heart Disease: What Every Parent Should Know

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