Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology on 2/09/10, the study found that common herbal remedies, including ginko biloba and St. John's wort, may increase or decrease the strength of prescription heart disease medication. According to the study, combining the herbal supplements and the prescription medications could also result in heart rhythm problems, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and bleeding.
Other herbal remedies mentioned in the report include ginseng, garlic, black cohosh and echinacea.
The report noted that the elderly are more likely to be affected by such problems because they are often already taking multiple prescription medications and are at higher risk of bleeding.
According to the study, St. John's wort—frequently used to treat depression and anxiety—actually affects the body's ability to absorb prescription medications. Combining it with heart medications could increase the risk of arrhythmias and high blood pressure. Meanwhile, combining aspirin or Warfarin (coumadin) with ginkgo biloba could increase the risk of bleeding.
READ MORE HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS LEGAL NEWS
According to Reuters on 2/01/10, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, an industry trade association, called the article biased and poorly written, noting that many supplements offer healthful benefits.
However, CNN.com noted on 2/01/10 that because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve supplements before they go on the market, the products may contain inconsistent amounts of the active ingredients.
Patients concerned about the risk of combining herbal supplements with heart medications should speak with their doctor. When discussing medications, it is important to let your doctor know which herbal remedies you are taking so he or she can examine any potential interactions.