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Common OTC Drugs That Raise Heart Risks

Common OTC Drugs That Raise Heart Risks
(Copyright DPC)

By    |   Monday, 18 July 2016 03:10 PM EDT

If you pop an antacid for heartburn, ibuprofen for a headache, or an over-the-counter allergy remedy, you could be doing yourself more harm than good. A new scientific report from the American Heart Association finds many common drugs can cause or worsen heart problems.

A wide range of medications, over-the-counter drugs, and even herbal products can interact negatively with heart medications, so it's important for patients to tell doctors about everything they're taking, according to the AHA report’s authors.

“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, who coauthored the new AHA report published in the advocacy organization’s journal Circulation.

Healthcare providers should talk to heart failure patients during every visit about all prescription and over-the-counter medications they’re taking, as well as nutritional supplements and herbs.

Experts say many Americans — particularly seniors — take multiple medications and natural remedies, which can put them at risk for drug interactions that can lead to hospitalization or even death.

To lower patient risks, the AHA has compiled a comprehensive guide to prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and complementary and alternative medicine products that can worsen heart failure.

Among them:

Painkillers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including commonly used painkillers such as ibuprofen, can trigger or worsen heart failure by causing sodium and fluid retention and making diuretic medications less effective.

Heartburn meds.
Over-the-counter medications that treat acid reflux often contain significant amounts of sodium, which can boost blood pressure and is usually restricted in patients with heart failure and those on low-salt diets.

Cold and allergy remedies.
Certain OTC medications that knock down allergy and cold symptoms (including antihistamines and decongestants) — for example, those containing pseudoephedrine or similar components — may cause increases in heart rate or blood pressure that could exacerbate some cardiac conditions. They may also contain sodium.

Certain supplements. Commonly used nutritional supplements and alternative medicines are generally far safer than prescription medications, according Food and Drug Administration risk-assessment reports. But some can cause or worsen heart failure when taken with cardiovascular medications. Among them: Products containing ephedra (which raises blood pressure) and others that can interfere with heart failure medication, including St. John’s wort, ginseng, hawthorn, danshen, and green tea.

According to the AHA, such medications and remedies can cause problems by:
  • Being toxic to heart muscle cells or changing how the heart muscle contracts.
  • Interacting with medications used to treat heart failure so that some of their benefits are lost.
  • Containing more sodium than advised for patients with heart failure.
Heart failure is the leading cause of hospitalization for seniors, and the average heart failure patient takes an average of seven prescription medications per day, according to the AHA. A third of heart failure patients also take herbal supplements, two thirds take vitamins, and seven out of eight use over-the-counter medications.

“Keep a list of all your medications and doses to show at every medical visit, and inform a healthcare provider treating your heart failure before stopping or starting any medication,” Page said, a professor in the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at the University of Colorado Schools of Pharmacy and Medicine at the University of Colorado Hospital.

“Ideally, there should be a ‘captain’ who oversees your medications. This person might be a physician, advanced practice nurse, nurse or a pharmacist who is managing your heart failure.”

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A wide range of medications, over-the-counter drugs, and even herbal products can interact negatively with heart medications, according to a new report. Among them: Heartburn meds, painkillers, and allergy remedies. Here's a list of the most common and what to do to lower your risks.
common, drugs, heart, risks
Monday, 18 July 2016 03:10 PM
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