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As heart patients flock to alternative medicine, hazards may lurk

ATLANTA, GA Nearly three-quarters of heart patients surveyed in a new University of Michigan study used some kind of alternative medicine approach to help them heal, but dietary supplements chosen by one-third of them could actually interact with their heart medications to raise their risk of further health problems.

Fortunately, the vast majority of those who used alternative medicine techniques told their doctors about it, and also kept up with their prescription medications. The findings, which will be presented here on March 19 at the American College of Cardiologys 51st Annual Scientific Session, concern U-M researchers enough that they have launched a larger study of the issue.

Heart patients seem to be turning to alternative therapies even more than the general population, even while they stick to mainstream drugs too, says Eva Kline-Rogers, R.N., M.S., the U-M nurse practitioner who coordinated the study. But they may not know that some of these substances could pose a hazard when taken with certain heart medications, and if they dont tell their doctors, the risk may go undetected. We need to encourage patients to be cautious, learn the risks, and share information with their health care providers.

The study involved 145 patients who had been hospitalized for heart attack or angina within six months before being surveyed by phone last year. It was designed by members of the U-M Cardiovascular Center and the U-M Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Center, one of the first centers of its kind in the nation funded by the National Institutes of Health.

The study started after U-M cardiologists and nurses noticed that some patients came to their appointments with lists of all the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, minerals and food supplements that they were taking wondering which they could cut out to save money or reduce hassle.

The physicians would explain that the prescription medic
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Contact: Kara Gavin
kegavin@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
19-Mar-2002


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