Managing your medication after stroke

It is important you understand the types of medication you may be given after a stroke and how you can manage them.

Get organised

To stay healthy and reduce your risk of having another stroke, it is important to take your medication properly. Keeping track of what medicine you are taking is not always easy.

If you have memory problems, remembering what you have taken can be difficult. Many people will need to take more than one type of medication, which may need to be taken at different times of the day or in different ways. And the medications you need might change over time.

Tips:

  • Use a pillbox organiser with separate days and times.

  • At the start of the week, organise your medication for the rest of the week.

  • If you have problems with your memory, leave yourself reminders to take medicine.

  • Set reminders on a calendar or on your phone to order repeat prescriptions well in advance.

  • Keep a written record of what medicine you are taking in case anyone needs to know.

Side effects

Medications can have side effects. Different medications have different side effects. Sometimes side effects of medication are mistaken for effects of a stroke.

If you're experiencing side-effects, never stop taking any medications before speaking to your GP or pharmacist. If you stop taking them, it could raise your risk of a stroke.

  • Always talk to your GP if you are experiencing side effects.

  • Many conditions have a variety of medications, and the GP can work with you to find the best treatment for you.

  • Read the leaflets that come with your medication so you are aware of potential side effects.

Your GP and pharmacist

Your GP can prescribe medications and work with you to find the best treatments for you. Your pharmacist can give you advice about taking the medications and how to deal with any problems.

  • Never stop taking your medication without speaking to your GP.

  • If you have any concerns about your medication, speak to your GP or pharmacist.

  • Get your pharmacist to write down exactly how to take each medicine.

  • Always check with your pharmacist before using any over-the-counter treatments. This includes things like painkillers, herbal remedies and vitamin supplements.

  • Ask your GP or pharmacist if there are any foods you should avoid because of your medication.

Common types of medication you may be given

All strokes are different and so medication differs from person to person. There are some types of medications that are prescribed to many stroke survivors. Although some medications are common, it is important that you never share your medication or use anyone else's.

You may be given medication to:

  • Reduce the risk of blood clots.

  • Lower your blood pressure.

  • Lower your cholesterol.

  • Manage other conditions, such as diabetes and atrial fibrillation.

Questions you can ask include:

  • Is my medication working?

  • What should I do if I miss a dose?

  • How often do I need to have a check-up?

  • Are there any side effects?

  • Can I have a medication review?

Information

More information about medications related to blood-thinning medication, high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation can be found in the leaflets below.

Other resources

Stroke Association Helpline
Helpline: 0303 3033 100
Email: helpline@stroke.org.uk
Contact us for information about stroke, emotional support and details of local services and support groups.

Anticoagulation Europe (ACE)
Support and information for anyone taking anticoagulant medication.

Heart Rhythm Alliance
Supports people with all types of heart arrhythmias, including atrial fibrillation.

British Heart Foundation (BHF)
Phone: 0300 330 3311
Provides information and support on heart issues, including atrial fibrillation, and some blood-thinning medications.

Electronic Medicines Compendium
This site provides the UK approved information sheets for prescription medicines. It is up to date and an official source of information about medicines prescribed in the UK.

NHS (England and Wales)
For general information on all aspects of health including stroke, as well as information on the different types of blood-thinning medications.

NHS Inform Scotland
NHS Inform Helpline: 0800 22 44 88
Information on health conditions, treatments and health services in Scotland.

Apps from MyTherappy
NHS approved and recommended stroke apps for survivors and carers ranging from communication, eating and drinking, healthy lifestyle, vision and more.

Disclaimer: The Stroke Association provides details of other organisations for information only. Inclusion on My Stroke Guide does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement.