Medications Linked to Heart Failure

Medications that can cause or worsen heart failure identified by American Heart Association

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Anyssa Garza, PharmD

(RxWiki News) Several medications may cause or worsen heart failure, according to a new statement from the American Heart Association.

This statement, recently published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, suggests that commonly used medications and even some nutritional supplements may be linked to heart failure. 

According to the American Heart Association, patients with heart failure have, on average, five or more other medical conditions. In addition, patients with heart failure take seven or more prescription medications, which are often prescribed by different health care providers, each day.

That said, it may be difficult to identify potential drug interactions alongside medications that may cause or worsen heart failure, the researchers behind this statement noted. 

Some medications may affect the way heart failure medications work, may contain large amounts of sodium, may be dangerous for the muscle cells in the heart or may even change how the heart muscle contracts. 

What does this mean? Tell all of your health care providers about all of the medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins and herbal supplements. 

Also ask your health care provider before starting or stopping any medication, including OTC or supplements. 

It may be easier to write a list of all the medications you take so you have a list to show to all of your health care providers. 

Patients are also discouraged from using herbs, supplements, and other “natural” treatments to treat or manage heart failure symptoms.

Regarding OTC medications, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen can trigger or worsen heart failure. That's because these kinds of medications cause sodium and fluid to be retained.

In addition, heartburn medications and several cold medications found OTC may also contain large amounts of sodium, which is something patients with heart failure need to be cautious of. 

As for supplements, ephedra, ginseng, hawthorn, St. John’s wort, danshen and green tea are not recommended. This is because they either raise blood pressure or affect the way heart failure medications work.

If you have any questions about managing heart failure, speak with your pharmacist or doctor.

The statement authors disclosed no outside funding sources or conflicts of interest.

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Review Date: 
July 8, 2016
Last Updated:
July 12, 2016