Many common drugs may cause or worsen heart failure, according to AHA

In a recent statement from the American Heart Association, researchers find commonly used medications and nutritional supplements may cause or worsen heart failure.

The statement offers comprehensive information about specific drugs and “natural” remedies that may have serious side effects for heart failure patients.

According to the statement, medications can cause problems in several ways:

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, and containing more sodium than advised for patients with heart failure.

Heart failure patients have, on average 5+ separate medical conditions and take 7+ prescription medications daily.

Many of the drugs that heart failure patients are taking are prescribed for conditions such as cancer, neurological conditions, or infections.

These drugs are often prescribed by different healthcare providers.

It is important but hard for doctors to reconcile whether a drug is interacting with heart failure drugs or making heart failure worse.

In addition to prescription medications, over the counter drugs may also have unintended consequences for heart failure patients.

One example is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which include commonly used painkillers such as ibuprofen.

They can trigger or worsen heart failure by causing sodium and fluid retention and making diuretic medications less effective.

Over-the-counter heartburn medications and cold remedies may also contain significant amounts of sodium, which is usually restricted in patients with heart failure.

Moreover, many supplements used in complementary and alternative medicine can be dangerous for people with heart failure.

According to the statement, doctors should talk to patients with heart failure at every visit about all prescription and over the counter medications they may be taking, as well as nutritional supplements and herbs.

On the other hand, patients should read food labels for sodium content, and they also need to read labels on over-the-counter medications and natural supplements.

This includes products containing ephedra (which raises blood pressure) and others (including St. John’s wort, ginseng, hawthorn, danshen, and green tea) that interfere with one or more commonly used heart failure medications.

Some nutritional supplements, herbs, and other “natural” remedies should not be used to treat or manage heart failure symptoms.

The statement suggests that patients should keep a list of all the medications and doses to show at every medical visit, and inform doctors treating your heart failure before stopping or starting any medication.

The new scientific statement is published in Circulation.

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Source: American Heart Association.