A recent scientific statement from the American Heart Association summarizes the current research on using complementary and alternative therapies for heart failure treatment.
A new American Heart Association scientific statement recently published in the journal Circulation highlights the potential benefits and risks of using complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) for managing symptoms of heart failure.
The statement estimates that over 30% of people with heart failure in the United States use CAMs. The statement emphasizes the importance of involving the healthcare team in the use of CAMs for safety reasons. The American Heart Association estimates that 6 million people in the United States ages 20 and older have heart failure, which occurs when the heart is not functioning normally.
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, grapefruit juice, devil’s claw, alcohol, aloe vera, and caffeine, or practices such as yoga and tai-chi. The statement writing group reviewed research published before Nov. 2021 on CAM among people with heart failure.
The statement writing group advises healthcare professionals to ask their patients with heart failure at every healthcare visit about their use of complementary and alternative therapies and talk about potential medication interactions, benefits, and potential side effects of CAM. In addition, they suggest that pharmacists are included in the multidisciplinary healthcare team to provide consultations about the use of complementary and alternative therapies for people with heart failure.
Alternative therapies that may benefit people with heart failure include:
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