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Commonly Used Drugs Can Cause or Worsen Heart Failure, American Heart Association Warns

Jul 13, 2016 08:09 PM EDT
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American Heart Association has released a new scientific statement warning consumers that some of the most commonly used medications and nutritional supplements have the potential to cause or worsen heart failure.

The scientific statement, published in the journal Circulation, provides comprehensive information, as well as guidelines, about specific drugs and natural remedies that could have drug-drug or drug-condition interactions that could lead to unintended consequences in people with heart failure.

"Since many of the drugs heart failure patients are taking are prescribed for conditions such as cancer, neurological conditions, or infections, it is crucial but difficult for healthcare providers to reconcile whether a medication is interacting with heart failure drugs or making heart failure worse," said Robert L. Page II, Pharm.D., M.S.P.H., chair of the writing committee for the new scientific statement, in a press release.

Some of the drugs included in the scientific statement are over -the-counter medications such as painkillers, heartburn medications and cold remedies. Painkillers could cause sodium and fluid retention that could render diuretic medications less effective, potentially triggering or worsening heart failure. On the other hand, heartburn medications and pain killers may also contain high amounts of sodium that could trigger and worsen heart failure.

Additionally, researchers noted that many supplements used in complementary and alternative medicines can be fatal for people with heart failure. Patients with heart failure should avoid supplements containing ephedra St. John's wort, ginseng, hawthorn, danshe, and green tea. Ephedra can cause high blood pressure, while the others could interfere with one or more commonly used heart failure medications. The researchers also noted that patients should not try to treat or manage symptoms of heart failure using nutritional supplements, herbs and other "natural" remedies.

The researchers recommend all heart failure patients to keep a list of all the medications with their corresponding doses they are taking every time they visit a medical practitioner. Patients should also inform their healthcare providers of the medications they are taking before being prescribed to start or stop any medications.

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