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Heart Disease Health Center

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Herbal Remedies May Be Risky With Heart Drugs

Researchers Say Some Supplements Should be Avoided by Patients Taking Heart Drugs

Older Patients Most at Risk continued...

Not all interactions identified by the researchers involved herbal or alternative remedies.

Jahangir says taking heart medications with grapefruit juice is a common cause of drug toxicity.

For almost two decades, researchers have known that grapefruit juice can increase dosages of some drugs to toxic levels by inhibiting a key enzyme in the intestine that breaks down medications.

He says patients on cholesterol-lowering statins who take the drugs with grapefruit juice may end up with blood statin levels that are three to four times higher than intended.

"I think it is a good idea for anyone taking medication to avoid grapefruit juice because the effects can last as long as 24 hours," he says.

The Mayo researchers conclude that there is a clear need for increased regulation to protect the public from herbal and alternative supplements that can harm them.

Supplement Industry Reaction

A spokesman for the dietary supplement industry's leading trade group was highly critical of the claim and the research analysis in general in a written statement released today.

Council for Responsible Nutrition Vice President for Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Douglas MacKay, ND, writes that the analysis represents a "biased, poorly written and contrived attack on herbal supplements," which contained "sweeping generalizations, often not backed by relevant citations, and copious factual errors."

He faults the researchers for not acknowledging recent changes in federal law that require dietary supplement manufacturers to report serious adverse events to the FDA.

According to MacKay, in the first full year the law was in effect, the FDA reported 1,080 adverse events linked to the use of vitamins and minerals, as well as herbal, sports, and weight loss supplements. A total of 672 adverse events were considered serious.

"For the same year, FDA received over 526,000 adverse event reports related to drugs and biologic products, overn 300,000 of which were considered serious, including close to 50,000 deaths," he writes.

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