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AHA warns about prescription dangers for heart failure patients

July 13, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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The American Heart Association (AHA) is warning heart failure patients and doctors about possible unintended consequences of polypharmacy.

The AHA reports in the journal “Circulation” that heart failure patients take an average of nearly seven prescription medicines a day and 40 percent of Medicare patients with heart failure also have five or more other chronic diseases.

Medications were ranked by their potential for harm based on the severity of the reaction and onset from last dosage using existing data, scientific trials and package inserts. More than 32 prescriptions were found to cause direct damage to the heart. Among the most dangerous drugs for interaction are several commonly used to treat cancer, migraines, Parkinson’s disease and mental health issues.

Dr. Davy Cheng, co-author of the statement and professor at Western Ontario University’s medical school, says he hopes the statement serves as a “current up-to-date review” of the risks associated with medication given to heart failure patients. The AHA statement includes a list of recommendations for medical professionals to better understand their patients’ prescription drug regimens, including regular compressive reviews of medicine dosage and frequency and verifying that information with the patient’s pharmacy.

Nearly 5.7 million Americans live with heart failure, according to data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

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