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Herbal Remedies Can Cause Cardiac Problems
Date:2/1/2010

They interfere with effects of prescription drugs for heart troubles, researcher says

MONDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The growing number of Americans who are taking traditional herbal medications for heart problems are unaware of the dangers those treatments pose, a new report says.

"They may be safe," said Dr. Arshad Jahangir, a consultant cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, and author of a report in the Feb. 9 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. "But in the United States, where patients often take multiple medications, there is a potential for harm."

While up-to-date statistics aren't available, it appears that more than 15 million Americans are using herbal remedies and the number is growing, Jahangir said.

"Consumers of these products think they are not getting proper attention from their physicians," he said. "The typical hands-on communication between physician and patient is getting compromised, and they are seeking that type of relationship."

Popular herbal remedies such as St. John's wort "have been used traditionally in populations where there are no other medications to use," Jahangir said. But now multiple medications are common for older people, so "anyone taking herbal products needs to pay attention to the advice of their medical providers, and they often don't ask for that advice," he said.

Herbal medications can affect the activity of prescription drugs, dampening or enhancing their effects, Jahangir said. For example, St. John's wort, which is used for a number of conditions, including depression and sleep disturbances, has its major effect on the liver, which is involved in the metabolism of many drugs, especially those for heart disease, he said.

"If you take it on top of these medications, their activity will be reduced -- blood pressure medications, rhythm-controlling medications," Jahangir said. "Most important, it can ha
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