Caution Urged For Herbal Supplement Use in Heart Patients

Physicians should warn patients with heart problems about taking herbal supplements to treat their condition since there is scant evidence they are effective, they have side effects, and they may interact with other drugs that patients are taking.

Researchers looked at 42 herbal medications that claim to treat one or more cardiovascular conditions, such hypertension, heart failure, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, thromboembolic disorders or peripheral artery disease. They then examined 10 of the most commonly used herbal meds for cardiovascular conditions.

Unlike prescription drugs, herbal and nutritional supplements are not subject to the same rigorous testing that would demonstrate their safety and efficacy.

Despite a large amount of clinical studies, overall there is a lack of evidence the drugs are actually effective to treat cardiovascular conditions, the study’s authors reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

They recommend that doctors start talking to patients about their use of herbal meds since many of them don’t tell their doctors they are taking them, as some patients don’t view them as drugs. They also say many physicians are unlikely to gather correct information on the use of herbal supplements.

The researchers also note that herbal medication use has been associated with poor adherence to prescription drugs.

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