Some benefits, potential risks with alternative medicines for heart … – American Heart Association

Alternative medicines

Statement Highlights:

  • There are some benefits and potentially serious risks when people with heart failure use complementary and alternative treatments to manage symptoms.
  • People with heart failure should tell their health care team including pharmacists if they are using any over-the-counter or other treatments, such as herbal supplements or exercise programs, other than those prescribed by a health care professional.
  • Health care professionals should ask patients about alternative therapies during clinic visits, provide guidance on their risks and benefits, and identify if it’s possible to safely integrate them into the care plan.
  • Practices such as yoga and tai-chi are helpful for people with heart failure, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may have benefits for some. However, there are safety concerns with other commonly used over-the-counter remedies or supplements, like vitamin D, blue cohosh and lily of the valley.

Embargoed until 4 a.m. CT / 5 a.m. ET Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022

DALLAS, Dec. 8, 2022 — There are some benefits and potentially serious risks when people with heart failure use complementary and alternative medicines (CAM), to manage symptoms, so involving the health care team is important for safety, according to a new American Heart Association scientific statement published today in the Association’s flagship, peer-reviewed journal Circulation.

An estimated 6 million people ages 20 and older in the U.S. have heart failure, a condition that occurs when the heart isn’t functioning normally. The statement, “Complementary and Alternative Medicines in the Management of Heart Failure,” assesses the effectiveness and safety of CAM therapies used for heart failure treatment. According to the statement, it’s estimated that more than 30% of people with heart failure in the U.S. use complementary and alternative medicines.

The statement defines complementary and alternative medicine therapy as medical practices, supplements and approaches that do not conform to the standards of conventional, evidence-based practice guidelines. Complementary and alternative products are available without prescriptions or medical guidance at pharmacies, health food stores and online retailers.

“These products are not federally regulated, and they are available to consumers without having to demonstrate efficacy or safety to meet the same standards as prescription medications,” said Chair of the scientific statement writing committee Sheryl L. Chow, Pharm.D., FAHA, an associate professor of pharmacy practice and administration at Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona, Calif., and associate clinical professor of medicine at the University of California in Irvine. “People rarely tell their health care team about their use of supplements or other alternative therapies unless specifically asked, and they may not be aware of the possibility of interactions with prescription medicines or other effects on their health. The combination of unregulated, readily accessible therapies and the lack of patient disclosure creates significant potential for harm.“

Examples of complementary and alternative therapies that heart failure patients might use include supplements such as Co-Q10, vitamin D, Ginkgo, …….


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