Herbal supplements and possible incompatibility with heart medications


Herbal supplements and possible incompatibility with heart medications

Some herbal supplements can have dangerous interactions with heart medications.

Herbal supplements and possible incompatibility with heart medications

Herbal supplements are natural, so they should be safe, right? not nessacary. Herbal supplements can have a powerful effect on the body, and some may interact with prescription medications used to treat heart and circulatory problems such as high blood pressure and heart failure. Some of these interactions can be dangerous.

Herbal Supplements and Prescribed Medicines

Up to half of the adults who take prescription medications also take nutritional supplements, including herbal supplements. This number increases with age.

However, many herbal supplements can interact with medications to treat cardiovascular disease, which are widely prescribed for older adults. In fact, 8 out of 10 commonly used supplements are likely to interact with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven, others). Here are some herbal supplements that can interact with warfarin:

  • danshen (vegetable)
  • Chinese angelica
  • Evening Primrose Oil
  • the Garlic
  • ginkgo
  • ginseng
  • St. John's wort

This interaction is why it is important to talk to your doctor before taking herbal supplements if you are taking prescription medications. Your doctor and pharmacist can help you avoid dangerous interactions.

Herbal supplements and their interactions with drugs

The following table shows common herbal supplements and their interactions with common heart medications. But this is not a complete list, so you should talk to your doctor about the medications and supplements you're taking.

herbal supplementpharmaceuticalpotential impact
the Garlic
  • aspirin
  • clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven, others)
Increases the risk of bleeding
  • aspirin
  • clopidogrel
  • warfarin
Increases the risk of bleeding
  • warfarin
Decreases the effectiveness of warfarin
  • beta-blockers such as atenolol (Tenormin), nadolol, propranolol (Inderal LA, Inopran XL)
Raises blood pressure and heart rate
  • Calcium channel blockers such as diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor XR, others), nifedipine (Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Covera-HS, others)
  • Nitrates such as nitroglycerin (Nitrobid, Nitrostat, others), isosorbide (Dilatrate-SR, Isordil)
lowers blood pressure
  • digoxin (Lanoxiccaps, Lanoxin)
Increases the effects of digoxin
  • warfarin
Reduces Warfarin Levels
St. John's wort
  • Calcium channel blockers
  • digoxin drug
  • warfarin
  • statins such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Altoprev, Mevacor), simvastatin (Zocor)
Reduces the effectiveness of medicines

Enjoying safety with herbal supplements

If your doctor allows you to use herbal supplements in addition to medications, dosing instructions should be followed carefully. Watch for any unusual signs or symptoms that you may be experiencing drug interactions, such as a fast heartbeat, low blood sugar, or changes in blood pressure.