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Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
Date:4/2/2009

The fruit, combined with contraceptive pill and a genetic mutation, almost cost woman her leg, doctors say

THURSDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) -- A rare set of interactions involving grapefruit juice, birth control pills and a genetic mutation almost cost a 42-year-old woman her leg, physicians report.

"It started when she was driving in the car one afternoon," said Dr. Lucinda Grande, a recent medical school graduate who is doing her residency in family medicine at the Providence Hospital of St. Peter Health Care in Olympia, the largest health-care provider in the state of Washington. "Her leg became extremely painful, from the lower back to the ankle. She didn't think much of it, but the next morning, it turned purple."

The woman was seen by Grande when she went to the hospital emergency room. She was also seen by Dr. Richard Krug, a surgeon who recognized a limb-threatening situation.

"He had an ultrasound done, which confirmed that she had a large blood clot in her leg," Grande said. "Dr. Evert-Jan Verschuyl, an interventional radiologist, did a procedure where he was able to bust up the clot."

Verschuyl injected the powerful clot-dissolving tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) into the leg, and then placed a stent to keep blood flowing through the reopened vein. It was a seemingly casual remark that the woman made as she was leaving the hospital that led to her story being published in this week's issue of The Lancet.

"She just happened to mention that she had started a diet that had her eating grapefruit for breakfast for three days," Grande said. "I wondered if that contributed to the blood clot, so I did a little bit of thinking and reading."

It's well known that grapefruit has interactions with a number of drugs, Grande said. A reference book she consulted showed that grapefruit juice magnifies the effects of the estrogen in the birth control pill the woman was taking; one
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