Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Changing Prescription Medications

Have you been to the pharmacy lately with a new prescription or a refill? Our pharmacist has started offering "consultations" with each bottle of medicine I pick up recently. Is this something new? Maybe it's some HIPA regulation or what? I keep reminding them that the patients I pick up the pills for have been on the Rx for years. No surprises there.

When there is an actual change, the real kicker is the medicine dispensing employee who shouts "You'll have to talk to the pharmacist." in a loud annoying voice that gets me looks from the other people standing in line. Anyway, after trying out the new prescription for eXForge, things are going well and Mom's Blood Pressure readings have returned to the nearly normal range. (It's a combination of 5 MG Amlodipine and an additive to boost the effectiveness of the meds.) Still waiting to hear results of last week's blood work to monitor the potassium levels on the new drug. To be continued. . .

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Importance of Monitoring Blood Pressure

Yesterday was another example of the importance of monitoring Blood Pressure Readings for those folks taking blood pressure medication. I feel really lucky that Mom has only a couple of prescription medications to take regularly. For someone who is 85 plus years old, she's in an enviable position to most seniors whose daily pill regime is complex and confusing.

Mom takes 5 mg of Amlodipine (substituted for Norvasc) to help control her hypertension, or high blood pressure. It's only been in the past few years that she's needed this medication. But it comes with its own lengthy script on cautions, side effects and warnings. I've become to a small degree skilled in reading the "normal" ranges and what to worry about when the readings rise or fall.


So when Mom called me at 8am last week and said she'd been monitoring her blood pressure since 5am and it was "high" my first question was "How high?" She told me it had been at 184/96 which is ALARMINGLY high when it's supposed to be controlled with the medication.  I went across the street and took my own wrist cuff monitor to be sure it wasn't a problem with the equipment or the batteries. A couple of hours later and about 10 repeated readings on all three of our monitors showed her readings to be nearly normal.

We went to our family doctor yesterday and the Nurse Assistant took the reading which I immediately repeated with Mom's wrist cuff device to compare the results. The nurse got 114/60 (which is good!) and I got 140/64 which is a tad bit high on the systolic (upper reading). Normal BP should fall in the 90-120 range. So I immediately thought that our machine was off. Not so.

When Doctor Hussey retook the reading moments later, the systolic was around 150 which is Not Good. He sent us home with some samples of a new prescription which combines Mom's previous Amlodipine with another added ingredient to help stabilize the pressure. In two weeks she needs to go back for a Potassium evaluation (draw blood) since this Rx sometimes affects Potassium negatively. Oh boy. So now, we wait and see how she does on the new meds.