Tips and Tricks for Tracking Your Meds

(Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision, Getty Images)

Most people with cardiovascular disease take-prescription medications. But when not taken as directed, those drugs can cause side effects or not work properly. Without knowing it, you could counteract one medicine by taking it with another. Certain foods also can affect medication effectiveness.

If you take more than one medicine, schedule a “medicine checkup” with your health care provider or pharmacist. Put all of your prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and supplements in a bag. Bring them with you and discuss them with your provider. This can help reduce duplication. It can also help find potentially dangerous drug interactions.

Medication adherence is important to effectively manage a condition. Here are some tips that may help you.

Keeping track of medications can be challenging, especially if you’re taking several. Writing things down will make managing a lot easier. Use a printable medicine tracker to stay organized. Go over it with your health care providers or pharmacist regularly to make sure that your medications complement, and don’t counteract, each other.

  • Take it at the same time every day.
  • Take it along with other daily events, like brushing your teeth.
  • Use special pill boxes, like the ones divided into sections for each day of the week (which can be found at a drugstore).
  • Ask people close to you to remind you.
  • Keep a “medicine calendar” near your medicine.  Make a note every time you take your dose.
  • Put a reminder note on your medicine cabinet or refrigerator.
  • List your pills on a small dry-erase board.  Mark the board when you take your medication.
  • Purchase timer caps for pill bottles that show the last time the bottle was opened. Some come with programmable alarms.
  • If you have a smartphone, use a reminder app. Several major pharmacies now have apps that remind you when to take your medicine and let you mark it as taken.


  • Understand what the medication is for, and how and when you should take it.
  • Make an instruction sheet by taping a sample of each pill on a sheet of paper and writing down all the information about it. But make sure to keep this sheet out of reach of children and pets.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether it should be taken with food or on an empty stomach.
  • Simplify your routine by putting colored labels on your medicine bottles: blue for morning, red for afternoon and yellow for bedtime.
  • If your medication routine is too complicated, ask your doctor or pharmacist to help simplify it. For example, substituting a pill that you can take once a day rather than several times.
  • If your medications are too expensive, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about financial assistance programs.
  • If you’re away from home a lot, make sure you carry enough with you to take the prescribed doses while you’re out. Ask your pharmacist if they prepare blister packs for daily or weekly meds.
  • If you travel by air a lot, always carry medicines on the plane with you. Never pack them in your luggage, which could be delayed or get lost.
  • Don’t stop any medications without talking to your health care provider.

With the help of technology, people can better manage their medication regimens. There are smartphone apps that can track prescriptions and give refill reminders. The online pharmacy PillPack delivers medicines to your door and has a smartphone app that alerts users various times a day that it’s time to take meds.

Taking your medication as prescribed can help you manage your condition and avoid a major health problem such as a heart attack or stroke. Once you and your health care provider agree on a plan, stick with it.

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