Your Heart and the Big 4 Med Types to Avoid

It’s important to know the risks of taking medications

heart pills

Allergies coming on? Pain got you down? Before taking any medication to remedy the situation, always read the label, follow directions and consider the side effects.

For people with heart issues, it’s especially important to know the risks of taking certain medications. If you are a heart patient, be sure to discuss all medication and supplement choices with your cardiologist first.

Here are four common medication categories that you should know about.

man with headache1. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Relievers

There are two main types of OTC pain relievers: acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®) and naproxen sodium (Aleve®). NSAIDs (especially at high doses) can increase your blood pressure and increase your risk for a heart attack or stroke.

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If you take prescription drugs to treat your high blood pressure or have heart disease, you should talk to your doctor to find an OTC pain medication that is safe for you.

woman blowing nose2. Decongestants

Many OTC cold, flu and allergy medications include decongestants, which can cause a rise in blood pressure and/or interfere with the effectiveness of some prescriptions. Do not take decongestants if you have high blood pressure or are taking medications that treat high blood pressure or heart conditions. An example of a common decongestant is pseudoephedrine (Sudafed®). Also, be aware that cold and sinus medications may contain combinations of NSAIDS and decongestants.

Rx with pills3. Certain Antibiotics

Azithromycin is an antibiotic that is commonly used to treat bacterial infections. It is sold under the name of Zithromax® and Zmax® and is commonly called a Z-Pak®.

A 2012 study found that azithromycin may cause changes in the electrical system of the heart, which can lead to arrhythmia or a rapid heartbeat. Patients at particular risk for developing this condition include those with known risk factors such as existing QT interval prolongation, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, a slower than normal heart rate, or use of certain drugs used to treat abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmias.

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The Federal Drug Administration reports that other antibiotics in the same class as azithromycin, called macrolide antibiotics, have similar side effects. It would be advisable to discuss any concerns about macrolide antibiotics with your cardiologist.

herbs4. Herbal Supplements/Medicines

While herbal supplements may seem natural and therefore harmless, think again. Unlike conventional medications, herbal supplements do not undergo rigorous scientific study or approval by the FDA, and serious, even fatal, interactions have been reported between cardiac medicines and some supplements.

Some herbs may even cause heart and vascular problems; they can affect your blood pressure and heart rate whether or not you are taking any heart medications. Therefore, you should always talk to your doctor before taking an herbal supplement.

What to do before taking a new medication or supplement

  • When looking at the label of OTC medications, be sure to read the active and inactive ingredient lists. Many drugs are high in sodium, which raises blood pressure.
  • Use your pharmacist as a resource. He or she can tell you if the OTC medications are not compatible with certain medical conditions and/or your current drug therapy. In addition, they may be able to offer you alternative choices.
  • Most importantly, if you are a heart patient, be sure to discuss all medication and supplement choices with your cardiologist before taking anything.

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  • mattieE

    What are your thoughts on using red yeast for high cholesterol, ldl,triglycerides. I had problems with zocor and realize that the red yeast has some of the statin elements in it. I tried niacin ER and had problems taking it even trying with meals and with asa before taking and even benadryl (flushing and rashes). I tried zetia and did not like side effects but would probably need something else anyway….and the family dr. didn’t think he should try that. There is a non-flusing niacin OTC he told me about, but I heard that the results from this niacin may not be that helpful in lowering your numbers. Any ideas on what to try next?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Dr. Hazen discussed the use of red yeast in this chat Red yeast rice is a fermented form of rice that has a natural statin in it.
      In fact, the agent in red yeast rice that lowers cholesterol is identical
      chemically to mevocor (lovastatin) the first ever statin sold in the US many
      decades ago. We sometimes use red yeast rice (or capsules) as an alternative for
      LDL lowering- but only when the patient has strong feelings about never wanting
      to take prescriptive drugs. While red yeast rice can lower cholesterol, there is
      considerable variability in the active ingredients from lot to lot, and
      manufacturer to manufacturer – also- the FDA doesn’t monitor it. So getting ones
      statin with a prescriptive form is best. You should work with a Preventive Cardiology Team if you are going to use any products to lower your cholesterol and make sure you are achieving your goals. betsyRN

      • been-there-done-that

        I will agree 100%, I took Red Yeast for a long time and my LDL was a little bit of everywhere. After 2 heart attacks and triple by pass at 52 I am on a statin and it is down and stays down with 0 side effects. My doctor is very well read on over the counter meds I guess I should have listened to him.

      • shenpen

        Beating edge team , My question is if statins hurt some peoples muscles then it has to hurt your heart right since your heart is a muscle

        • The_Beating_Edge_Team

          shenpen – “Statins have been tested in over 1 million patients and have not been found to cause heart damage. While they don’t damage your heart, statins can affect the large muscles in your body and cause mild muscle ache, which is found in up to 10 percent of people who take statins and, they can, even more rarely, cause more severe muscle pain — which is a sign to talk to your doctor, who will have you stop your statins immediately. In either case, you should tell your doctor if you are feeling muscle pain or weakness.” From betsyRN

          • Janice M Giaco

            When reviewing patients’s med lists I have found that most people on statins are not on CO Q-10..Statins deplete it. I always tell them to consult with their physician about getting on Co Q10. I read a good article on cholesterol’s role in the body and it spoke about this problem. (Bottom line to protect your muscles and your heart, if you take Statins, you should be on Co Q 10 supplementation.) the article is “Body BIo 4:1 by Edward Kane.

    • Gerri Harper

      MAttieE: I have high triglycerides – they were at 500. My mother heard something about KRILL OIL – that it lowers the triglycerides. My mom is into health. Hers was high too but not like mine. We bought the KRILL OIL and my numbers dropped down to 300 only because I was taking 1 pill instead of the recommended 2 which is equal to 1,000 of the KRILL OIL. It’s not Omega 6’s or anything but KRILL. When I went for my blood work the doctor asked me how I got it so down and I told him and guess what – HE WASN”T INTERESTED AND DID NOT WRITE IT IN MY FILE BECAUSE THEY CAN’T PRESCRIBE OR MAKE MONEY OFF THE KRILL. Try it for a couple of months. I am now taking 2 pills a day and going in to see if the numbers were lower. Always take 1,000 of the Krill a day. Schiff sells it in the drug store and it’s around $30. I am not sure how much Krill in each pill. I don’t like pills to I get another brand from the health food store which is 1,000 and this way I only have to take 1 pill. TRY IT!!!! It worked for me and my mom.

  • Mickie

    What about Gingko? I take Zetia, LoPressor (for mild AF), Diovan HCT, & Arimidex—as a nurse, I do know that herbal preparations are not under FDA controls, but besides aid to memory, I had also read that Gingko might help thin blood, & since I have also had gastric bypass surgery, I can no longer take aspirin.

  • jack

    I found this article generally helpful but had to laugh about the part regarding herbs and medication. What was so amusing to me was that you are advised to speak with your doctor regarding herbs and meds even though it is 100% sure that your doctor will be ignorant about the subject and thus advise you to avoid all herbs but not those wonderful meds.

    • jon johnson

      Like ur comment! The FDA are a bunch of kooks!

      • Gioiello

        Really? Why do folks like you always find it necessary to disparage and/or attack the other person or entity that doesn’t share your opinions? You should really go back to school. Maybe you could learn how to argue intelligently and coherently.

      • mervie

        they’re worse than kooks. if you look closely you will find corruption that dwarfs congress.

        • linda555555

          lol…just the usual sociopaths needed in big phama,gov,Dr’s etc. no conscious is what thes big guys need to get “their drugs” use. The average good guy couldn’t give you poison that easy.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      This is a difficult task sometimes, but it is very important to talk to your doctor first. Herbal supplements can have interactions with drugs that you may be on or have a poor response with certain conditions. They seem as though they would be “ok” because they are a plant – but they need to be treated as though they would be another medication you are taking. betsyRN

      • Loretta Hanes

        You missed his point, Betsy. The doctors don’t know anything about herbs. You MAY get some info from a pharmacist.

        • The_Beating_Edge_Team

          Thanks – I understand. Our patients are certainly prompting our doctors to become much more knowledgeable about herbal supplements. Yesterday I found – there is a
          nice application that allows you to search for interactions between your
          medications and herbals or over the counter medications – see top navigation. Hope this is helpful – the important message is to be cautious – you may think you are doing something good for you – but they can cause harm if not taken under guidance. betsyRN

          • Candice Rene

            Of course that is what is being prompted, but the MD do not make the money from all natural supplements. So even the most knowledgeable of MD can and will steer you in the more synthetic direction. It is in fact true that there are pharmaceutical companies that pay out for every specific Rx that is written. That is why you will find some MD that will push such meds as Vicodin and Xanax, while others actually have a compassionate nature and care about the health of their patients.

          • cwc

            doctors are so caring and compassionate…sometimes its hard for people to understand that a doctor is looking out for there best interest and mistakenly turn to herbologist or those evil so called “natural healers” who are just out to make money.. it makes me sad.

          • zach

            thanks for the link!

          • mervie

            a good Chinese herbalist usually has generations before him or her that has created their recipes. I think your doctors have a few generations of catch-up to do. unlike allopathic medicine, traditional chinese medicine is NOT based on symptom drug. it is a holistic practice.

          • bethmoore

            Oh yeah drs love informed PATIENTS – NOT.

          • The_Beating_Edge_Team

            Beth – I hope you can find a doctor that will work with you – sometimes you have to find the right doctor who will listen to your questions and wants his or her patients to make informed decisions.

          • bethmoore

            Thanks I plan on it

          • bethmoore

            Luckily my female nurse practional is great and will answer questions and doesn’t treat me like I’m stupid white trailer trash.

          • lifesaver1

            Patients who “think” they are so informed are the most dangerous ones out there.
            There are actually many good herbs, but on the other hand many can be down right counter productive and block the prescribed medications from being absorbed & working.

          • bethmoore

            Better to be informed then so trusting that your dr has all the answers.

          • kathy

            Google it. Do your own resesrch. Find a knowledgeable health store herbologist and a pharmacist. Get some herbal medicine books. Naturopathic books and merck manual. get a pdr. All can be purchase for a minimum $ and some loaned from library.

          • Seth

            I wish I could give this a down vote but I can’t. Doctors like well and correctly informed patients. The problem is too many people believe everything they hear and then think that a 2 minute internet read beats 4 years of under-grad, 4 years of medical school, and 2 years of internships. The person to have medication and herbal interaction discussion is your doctor not this internet board.

          • resistancenow

            Finally, something helpful!

        • Elaine

          try this one, Betsy’s link wouldn’t work for me.

      • littlegirlblue

        My CCF cardiologist is 100% against herbal medicine. No clear studies done. I have to say, if he tells me no, I go with it. On all other things, he lets me limit my activity based on how I feel my body reacts, completely different from other cardiologists I’ve had. If he says not to do something, it must be with good reason.

        • GildaT

          My team of docs despise the fact that I insist on natural as possible and the oldest medications, when necessary. I stand by the fact that doctors & weather forecasters make educated guesses, but I know my body best – keep me informed and we will make a decision about MY healthcare, TOGETHER!

          • mervie


        • Sensiblehealth

          The doctor’s usually ignorance is the reason. They say it hasn’t been tested together but MEDICINES have not been tested in combinations. So if you are taking more than one…you are an experiment. Chinese herbs have been in use for 4000 years. Of course any herbs in the hands of an idiot can still kill you.

          • Bob

            Have you read about the Attorney General’s investigation of GNC this week?!

        • Heart check

          I agree with you totally – if it were not for my cardiologist I would be dead

        • mervie

          hello “little girl blue.” your doctor is misinformed either accidentally or purposefully. there is a compendium of treatment by chinese herbs published in German and one in China. Both have been translated into English. But then, your doctor would have to read it and I’m sure there isn’t time for that. And after he or she reads it, your doctor would have to understand what they have just read. This education starts very early. If the doc is out of med school it is usually too late.

        • Michelle Allen

          Many studies done.
          He is wrong.

    • Becky

      I thought the exact same thing. It sounded more like ‘HerbAL supplements are the devil!’ , to me. Lmao

      • The_Beating_Edge_Team

        Becky- the message above is to talk with your doctor before taking supplements – herbal supplements are medications – they may come from plants – but they are medications and should not be taken with a discussion with your doctor.

    • Nene

      I totally agree. Funny that don’t mention any by name too!

    • Bob

      You must have a very old doctor. These days, they actually TELL you to take them – especially the DO’s.

    • robert

      I am a 52 year old male with heart and valve disease. i had two open heart surgies one at the age of 29 and at 31.I am on some of the strongest heart meds you can take.taking herb and supplements with certain meds is very dangerous and can be fatal. I know I almost died from it. TALK TO YOUR DR. FIRST. it can be a life saver……LIFE..LIVE IT..LOVE IT..ENJOY IT

  • etta Wright

    I have a-fib and I take 6 mgs of coumadin daily. I read where coconut oil is very good. can you tell me if it would be safe to take coconut oil (1 tble) withouut disturbing the wardin level.?
    thank you, Etta Wright

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      From our dietitian: Coconut oil will not disturb warfarin levels.
      Coconut oil will not disturb warfarin levels. betsyRN

  • berna

    Can you mention some herbal supplements and the bad result of interactions with FDA approved medications? thanks !

  • Annette

    I have a mechanical heart valve that was put in at Cleveland. I have been prescribed Z-pak for infections and I have had palpitations. I had A-fib after my heart surgery and took Amioderone but just for a short time. I am hoping my heart dr and regular dr here in MO are keeping up with the Z-pak news too. Will make sure and say something when I need antibiotic again. Thanks :)

    • Tracy Renko

      Hello.. your pharmacists should have already told you that a nurse pharmacy always sends me or calls me about eds for a pt. They feel should not be taking. Then i contact the dr. Before administering and advise my patient…that is your know what you are taking amd all of the adverse reactions that can happen..

      • bethmoore

        Lucky you.

    • bethmoore

      Did that amiddarone make you nauseous within 2 wks, it did me but the dr REFUSES to take me off it just cut the dose in half, nausea still here not as pukey be glad only 2 more wks of this drug, got a aortic cow valve

      • The_Beating_Edge_Team

        Beth- glad you will be soon off your medication. If you need to be on it any longer – let us know if you need another opinion either by appointment or online second opinion. Amiodarone is used but there are other options for care if you are not tolerating it – we are happy to help – or if you are a Cleveland Clinic patient – give us a call.

        • bethmoore

          Thanks if in 2 wks they want me to stay on it i will insist on a new drug. To me this hindles recovery, I plan on going back to work before the month ends.

    • lifesaver1

      It’s also up to patients to question something like this when aware of it themselves!

  • Scott Raphael

    Herbal supplements are in fact, a very good way to control heart issues. For example, Foxglove (digitalis) the leading drug used to control heart issues, Hawthorn Berry another excellent herbal supplement for the heart just to name but a few., by the way, herbal supplement have far less side effects then that of it’s manufactured equal.. Another fact, over 80% of all drugs manufactured are derived from a plant source.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Scott – thanks for your note – it is very important to treat herbal supplements as if they are a medication – you should not prescribe yourself but work with your doctor to treat your condition. It is true that the original source of some meds are plant sources. But, herbals are not regulated the same way that medications are and therefore as another point, the herbal dosing can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Please be cautious. betsyRN

      • Jamie

        Medications/ pharmaceuticals are regulated and make many people worse and kill lots of people every year. There’s a reason doctors are called doctors of medicine and not doctors of nutrition. Many and I’d even go so far as to say most health issues can be greatly reduced and/or cured with proper nutrition,including good quality herbal supplements . But doctors have no clue because they are not trained that way. My health drastically improved when I quit relying on doctors and got educated on nutrition and changed the way I eat.

        • The_Beating_Edge_Team

          Jamie – that is good that you are eating healthier. Heart disease is treated with lifestyle modification, including exercise and nutrition/diet. It is important to work with a doctor who supports lifestyle modification along with medical management of your condition – they do go hand in hand for better overall health. betsyRN

          • bethmoore

            Yeah no salt bland food is so nasty.

      • Margaret Haines

        Excellent advice. Many doctors do not suggest supplements, because they have not read sufficient trial/study evidence to feel comfortable in encouraging their use. I have had an aortic valve replacement, and am extremely cautious with my supplements. Life Extension magazine, to which I subscribe, does have many pages devoted to the trials and medical journal articles to support the use of their supplements. I do much research on each, then begin with a very low dose. My supplements are quite simple. Life Extension also gives cautionary information with each substance, and you may call their pharmacists. The Cleveland Clinic Facebook page has information occasionally.One of the cardiovascular surgeons at The Cleveland Clinic has published a book, available at Whole Foods, he shares his experience with diet, Vit D3 and Vit. K and the removal of plaque from arteries. I lent book to someone a year ago, can’t remember his name. Interesting new work being done regarding food and cancer: Kale, Shitake mushrooms, almonds, grated lemon rind, etc.. No harm there, unless you have an allergy.

        Margaret, R.N.

    • Ron Quandt

      My wife and I have taken Hawthorne Berry supplements for years; As my study has explained that hawthorn Berries tend to elastate the arteries, etc; Therefore, I do think one should discuss with their doctor as over consumption appears to me could cause a stroke or aneurysm? My doctor knows very little about hawthorne berries but does not frown on my use of them.

    • lifesaver1

      Cardiac Glycosides

      Cardiac glycosides are chemical medicines used by physicians, and are also found in plants. These chemicals affect the pumping action and rhythm of the heart muscle. Foxglove is the best known of these herbs, and is the botanical source for pharmaceutical cardiac medications. It was “discovered” in 1785 by English physician William Withering who received it from a female herbalist of the time who used it to treat dropsy.

      These herbs are dangerous because the amount needed to create a medicinal effect is very close to the amount which can cause immediate and sometimes deadly toxic reactions, including intoxication, hallucination, nausea, headache, vomiting, seizures, ventricular tachycardia, ventricular fibrillation, heart blockage and death. You should avoid herbal medicines containing cardiac glycosides or herbs that stimulate the heart unless prescribed by a doctor. If you are taking cardiac glycoside medicines you must avoid these herbal medicines.

      There are also some anecdotal reports that the commonly used herb hawthorn berry (Crataegus species) may potentiate the action of digitalis, but I have not seen any adverse reports at this time. Potentiation might not be the correct word. Dr. Weiss reports in his textbook Herbal Medicine, that “a heart no longer giving an adequate response to digitalis or strophanthin becomes reactive again after intercurrent Crataegus therapy.” A physician trained in the use of both herbs and heart medications may therefore be able to improve results of digitalis therapy without raising the dosage into a more dangerous range.

  • Beth Staropoli

    Vital information for ALL people with or without cardio conditions.

  • Sheryl

    I had a triple bypass in 09. Ever since my surgery I have felt like something was wrong. Pressure on my chest goes to my arms. I feel like someone is choking me on each front sides of my neck. This comes on when showering, walking , over exertion. In 2012 they discovered that one of my graphs didn’t take. My doctor told me I was too young to have another surgery that I would just have to live with feeling. Recently he prescribe more meds for angina. Help?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Sheryl, It is concerning that you are having symptoms with exertion and you know one of your grafts is not supplying blood to that part of your heart. The significance of this needs to be evaluated by a cardiologist who could look at your cath films and other testing. I would suggest you have a second opinion – either locally at a large medical center or we are happy to help you at Cleveland Clinic. At the Cleveland Clinic we have two options – you can come here and see a specialist or we have online second opinions. Let us know if you would like further help at betsyRN

    • Bob Hallman

      Shery i had a triple done in 2000, six months later was back in the hospital because 2 bypasses closed up and the third was almost blocked.. they did manage to open the third one and loaded me up with meds.. well for the next ten years i felt bad but was able to keep going.. i was on a slow acting nitro, and Lisinopril, and metoprolol, along with plavix, and aspirin.. well in 2010 took a stress test and the VA in fl sent me by ambulance to a hospital in St Pete fl, and the doctor asked me what happened to my heart… great feeling…
      told him and after he viewed the situation told me what he was going to do with the only graft i had open, put three stents in it and then took me off of the meds i was on, only on three now, Plavix, Metoprolol and aspirin now,, feel better hardly any angina and take my little bottle with me every where i go… sorry long winded, if ya dont feel right on the meds you are on and your doctor wont change them, see another doctor..

  • Eddie

    In A*

    In August I will have my third CT scan (this one at Cleveland Clinic) with 6 month interval periods for an aortic root aneurysm. In the past I took L-Arginine, 3-4 grams/day, but now I’m concerned because this supplement is a dialiator (sp?) Is it safe to resume taking this? Thanks, Eddie

  • Barbara Jean Blevins

    Yes ,JACK i totally agree, I have two stints in and maybe will need another one, so does that include me. my heart is fine its my arteries.

  • Jan

    I was told that I need to take Calcium and Vit D supplement of about 1200 mgs. Calcium pd. and also Fosomax. due to osteoporosis. I had a heart attack 2 years ago have a stent in the LAD and atherosclerosis and am on a lot of meds. I read somewhere that it is not recommended that heart patients take high doses of Calcium. and Fosomax. What is yoru opinion??

  • jp

    Interesting regarding the NSAIDs and hypertension since most of us with hypertension also are advised to take aspirin (also a NSAID) daily, and are told by our orthopedic docs to take huge doses of ibuprofen for injuries or arthritis pain (which also doesn’t help BP). It is logical for me, though because I never had hypertension before being advised to use ibuprofen daily by the ortho doc and he saw in my office visits that my BP was elevated. Guess taking one drug leads to taking others more and more. Big pharma is happy.

    • Dr Debbie

      Aspirin has a different pathway than other NSAIDs so it may not have the same blood pressure effects. I would still recommend a baby aspirin for prophylactic blood thinning, if advised, but not NSAIDs. They all increase BP. As I said above, altho feared, narcotics are safer. Unless meds are needed for anti-inflammatory purposes, they aren’t needed anyway. If pain relief is needed, what type and for how long is what needs to be evaluated. Don’t give someone with liver damage Tylenol. The big concern the DEA had with narcotics was with large dose of tylenol in the mixed products, which virtually all of them. It was decreased to 325mg in all products which is good. If patients also take a tylenol they will be at less hepatic risk.

    • bethmoore

      Yep a handful of pills twice a day.

  • Sonja

    more vague….not very informative….

  • PhilipJamesJarosz

    Blood Pressure went up 180/160 taking ibuprofen.Pharmacists said some people just can’t take the stuff, especially if you are already taking a high blood pressure medication. Both GP and Heart Doctor discouraged use of OTC vitamins, but gave no reason why other than lack of FDA regulation.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Over the counter medications such as ibuprofen and supplements are sold without a prescription, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have side effects. And – you are correct, they may not be tolerated by all people. You need to work with your doctor to find the best pain relievers or medications that work best for you with the least amount of risk to you. Here is a good resource on ibuprofen: . I have also learned that some physicians do not like multivitamins, depending on your medical history because they are a combination of vitamins or minerals, some of which may act with your medications or not be indicated with some conditions. They may prefer you take the specific vitamins you need. betsyRN

  • Jae Anne Lancaster

    For those of you scoffing the herbal advice : ..I have sn irregular heart beat with pvcs..( benign)…I was recommended Siberian Ginzing by a naturepath I was seeing…I ended up in er with a wildly beating crazy heartbeat….attributed to the herb as that was absolutely the only thing I was taking…..just sayin’

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Jae Ann, Thank you for sharing. Hope you are feeling better. betsyRN

  • Pam Ruigh

    Please comment on beta blockers and target heart rate.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Beta blockers do lower your heart rate – so your target heart rate will not be the same as before you were on the beta blocker. If you are wanting a true target heart rate, you can talk to your doctor about obtaining a stress test on the beta blocker; and consulting an exercise specialist for an exercise prescription. There is a nice article on AHA – see Also – on 11/18 – Dr. Blackburn, from preventive cardiology will be answering questions about exercise – so that would be a great opportunity to ask your questions – see

      • Pam Ruigh

        I just had one without. $800 to cardioman, $2000 to hospital. I doubt Medicare and BCBS will pay for another. I will just have to take my chances. Now we are going for sleep study for hypoxia.
        Once you open the box it’s a huge can of worms. Medicare may not pay for anything soon.

        • Pam Ruigh

          When I get up out of bed my heart goes right up to 120 yet my resting HR is only in the 50s and60s. I exercise an hour a day. I wore an over night hypoxia monitor and I qualify for nighttime oxygen. That’s why I have to get the sleep study. It’s all quite scary.

          • The_Beating_Edge_Team

            Pam – feel free to participate in the web chat on 11/18 – Dr. Blackburn may be able to answer your questions. If you were on the beta blocker at the time of your last stress test, they could use that one to create your prescription. You can also use the Rated Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE) rater than your target heart rate when exercising – see and are two sources. In the mean time – sounds like you have some health issues to take care of too. Let us know how we can help. Take care, betsyRN

  • Loretta Aasgaard Clark

    I thought it was interesting that specific examples of potentially harmful products were given for the first three “common medication categories,” but that herbal supplements were apparently all to be suspect.

  • justchecking


    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      When you have a heart problem – or if you are seeing different doctors, it is always good to check with your cardiologist or make sure your medications will be ok to take with your heart condition. Your pharmacist is also a good resource to make sure your medications do not interact or are OK to take with other medical conditions. Talk to your doctor about your concern. BetsyRN

  • John Adan

    Cardiovascular function is mainly influenced by 5 modulators: Adrenalin, angiotensin, aldosterone, vasopressin and acetylcholine.

    They can be controlled in a positive fashion with beta blocker, RAS inhibitor, aldosterone antagonist, water and statin.

    At home your best bet is diet with fish, fruit and green vegetables, combined with aerobic activity (the last one to make nitric oxide). Avoid sugar, fat, salt, starches, tobacco, alcohol and street drugs.

  • Alice Dycus

    I am allergic to Penicillin and cephalosporins, have had a cardiac arrest from a 99% blockage in the “widow maker artery”, have been on Amiodarone 1 daily + other drugs for 10 years. After reading your article concerning ZPaks, I am concerned, especially since I have a couple of sinus infections a year and a ZPak is always prescribed. I am 74 years old.

  • Joyce Foxx

    My lover dune have 10 attacks 2years time and the year of 2011 he was in the hospital for 2weeks on the diet bed but he coming back to me I am so happy god Sondra him back to me I have got me D L and my family to but have being hurt so bad by a man from my church he have hurt my family so bade I can’t become a Emergency Medical Responder now but he get back send me a text message on my phone know one want to help us so i am scik he get back doing this to us !!!

    • Joyce Foxx

      10 hearts attacks in 2 years his age 38 the first one now he 41 years in this year he get this year D I C . For his heart I hope he Will be with me for next 8 years the Doctor say he want make to live 5 year I hope he Will see more that 5 years I hoping for next 8 years to have him!

  • Fred Jack

    Herbal medicines are just that, medicines. Unfortunately the average person does not know exactly how much drug is in any particular sample. A heart patient is suppose to take only low dose aspirin, how big a piece of willow bark is that? This is the dilemma. If you are healthy, it is not so critical, but if like me you do have a heart condition, you are gambling with your life.

  • Roberto Salvatierra Duran

    it is very odd that you write that NSAIDs are problematic… since a patient with a Heart attack the first thing you give to them is 300mg of aspirin to avoid agregation.. and aspirin is a NSAID…

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      All NSAIDs contain a warning about cardiovascular disease. However, you are correct aspirin is suggested to prevent clotting during a heart attack and in low doses for those at risk for heart attack. NSAIDs when taken over time or in large doses may increase risk of heart attack and definitely increase risk of gastrointestinal problems. See

  • gary

    What is considered to be the average heart rate for a male 66 years old, 226# with hypertension ?

  • Kathy Newton

    My mother has been diagnosed several years with Afib. She has been seeing a Cardiologist, however last week I found an Afib Center. She went to the Center for evaluation/treatment by a PA who explained the Center as having Cardiologists who are in two different categories, plumbers and electricians. It was explained to us that since she is in Afib she really needs treated by electricians since she has surpassed the plumbers (cardiologists). Have you ever heard this analysis before?

  • Kykats2

    My mother has been diagnosed several years with Afib. She has been seeing a Cardiologist, however last week I found an Afib Center. She went to the Center for evaluation/treatment by a PA who explained the Center as having Cardiologists who are in two different categories, plumbers and electricians. It was explained to us that since she is in Afib she really needs treated by electricians since she has surpassed the plumbers (cardiologists). Have you ever heard this analysis before?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      kykats2 – sorry for the delay in response – I just saw this note. You are correct. Cardiology is a specialty but then there are specialists within cardiology. Some (the electricians) are called electrophysiologists and they specialize in treating abnormal heart beats such as atrial fibrillation. Others specialize in other forms of heart disease. betsyRN

  • mervie

    I will say this about the Cleveland Clinic. They are the best in the country when it comes to heart disease. And for a hospital heavily invested in Western medicine, they are fairly progressive. If I could I would be going to the Cleveland Clinic.

    • bethmoore

      Me too

  • Avice Mendenhall Woodard

    Not a single health professional every told me about medications to avoid at the time I take my thyroid even though I have taken it for years and they have my complete medication list.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      When your doctor looks at your medication list he or she should be reviewing what can and cannot be taken together as well as what is the safest for your medical condition. Your pharmacist is also a great source of information to discuss your medications. betsyRN

  • Dr Debbie

    And drs are afraid to prescribe narcotics because of their “dangers”. Such docs aren’t educated enough in pain management to understand patients with chronic pain who REQUIRE narcotics are at far LESS RISK on long acting narcotics than having to resort to multiple doses of OTC meds which have FAR MORE risks on the heart, kidneys, and liver. Only 10-12% of the population is at risk for TRUE ADDICTION which is the craving for a high and the desire to be less functional. People with chronic pain only want enough medication to RELIEVE PAIN and RETURN TO NORMAL ACTIVITIES. There is a condition called “pseudoaddiction”. It refers to doctors who don’t believe their patients are truthful and ONLY WANT “MORE DRUGS” which is false. These patients want PAIN RELIEF. When they get it, they won’t ask for any higher dosages, unless they have an increase in pain due to a worsening of their condition. I know. I’ve practiced pain management and I also have a chronic pain condition that’s often disbelieved but I’ve not needed an increase in medication dosages for over 7 yrs after finally finding a doctor who knew how to listen to patients.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      You are correct in that if you have chronic pain, a pain management team is very helpful to consult. In the Heart and Vascular Institute, we have pain management specialists which help us in the care of our patients. betsyRN

  • Concerned Female

    Insurance companies rule our doctors and hospitals, they make no money on herbals. Today doctors often cannot prescribe exactly the meds they want to because the insurance company says to try some other cheaper to produce med first. My prescription plan only wants us to use mail-in option and will often refuse to cover a prescription filled at a pharmacy. They’ll tell me on the phone that a local pharmacy is ripping us off and will suggest that the meds from them are “perhaps from a 3rd world country”. Many people don’t realize nearly all meds (presc and OTC) are from other countries. Your pharmacist cannot check for interactions, etc if they too are in some other country. Insurance companies should not control doctors. I know of a doctor who lost his malpractice insurance because he was making information available in his office that dealt with herbals, acupuncture, chiropractic etc. He also lost his hospital association.

  • smileyp

    What is wrong with you people? Why even go to a medical Dr. if you don’t trust them. My neighbor went to a Chinese Herbalist to go the holistic way in treating her cancer, she died a year later. You do not know what is put into OTC Herbs, because they are not regulated.

  • Tammie Beardsley Forbes

    Anyone know if glucosamine/chondroitin tablets are good for Type 2 diabetes? I was told not to take them if you are Type 2??? And why?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Tammie – there is information on this supplement at the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)at states:
      If you take warfarin or have blood sugar problems, make sure you talk to your doctor about potential side effects if you are considering or taking glucosamine or chondroitin supplements.

  • InjuredByLevaquin

    You forgot one of the biggest medicine threats and that is the FLUOROQUINOLONE family of drugs (CIPRO, LEVAQUIN, AVELOX). Sadly this class of drugs is unnecessarily over-prescribed and has caused terrible adverse reactions in thousands of people (google “Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome”). I was prescribed Levaquin for an unconfirmed infection and ended up with a heart arrythmia, POTS, high blood pressure and other horrific “side effects” (many of which I am still suffering from today 9 months after taking the drug). I did NOT have any heart issues/high blood pressure issues before taking the drug. Now I do. The side effects from this family of drugs are not as rare as the medical world would have you believe.

    Herbal supplements are now helping me restore my health since the medical community has injured me and now has no cure for me. Hard to believe you would warn people about herbs and not warn people about a family of drugs that can cause heart problems and chronic pain for the rest of your life.

  • Gloria

    Do you have any countermeasures for someone who takes daily high doses of an NSAID because of Lupus?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Nancy – with any medication or treatment, the doctor and patient need to discuss the benefits and risks and weigh the options to determine the best course of treatment. If you are on high doses of NSAIDs, it is important to be aware of the side effects, try to be on the lowest dose possible and monitor for possible side effects. Work with your doctor closely and let him/her know if you notice any changes. There is an informative page on NSAIDs and risks at

  • Ran D Dale

    #4 is COMPLETE BS propogated by pharmaceutical companies!

  • adawitchy2u aka deb em

    That’s all fine and dandy but where is your suggestion for alternatives if someone has daily sinus congestion. sever joint pain and arthritis and a blown-out knee along w/high blood pressure and a heart murmur? Live w/it?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      When someone is complex, they have to work with their doctor to find the right treatments to control symptoms and improve health. For those who are looking for alternative answers – it is important to work with your doctor and integrative medicine team – you may want to seek an Integrative Medicine team that provides different alternative practices – see betsyRN

  • Julie Guenin

    The best person to talk to about your medications and interactions would be the pharmacist. They will be able to tell you all about medications and herbals.

  • Bob

    I’ve yet to find a doctor that knows much of anything about herbal supplements!

  • Cheyanne Pumpkinhead

    Prilosec can’t be be taken with Plavix, it lessens the Plavix increasing Heart Attack/Stroke risk.

  • isidro

    Thank you very helpful.

  • A

    My mom died after taking Zithromicin 15 years ago. Doctors argued it was not the drug. WHY do they do studies years after drug has been approved. Deaths could be prevented

  • Janet

    The other suggestions are ok, but not the herbal medications. They just don’t want you to get better. There are many herbalist who recommend medication which is good for you than any subscription you could have. So keep on taking your herbals. Herbs, minerals and vitamins are a must. Especially minerals copper, zinc all of these are needed for better health.

  • JLF

    You just might want to consider Cipro and flagyl as harmful to certain people. Look into side effects, not good. Physicians don’t seem to know about these drugs or their side effects, and further more do not seem to be interested. These drugs will definitely cause havoc to your body if cannot be tolerated.

  • priscilla

    what herbs medication can i take having palpitation buh my blood pressure is normal.

  • Andy

    Regarding the triglyceride conversation– my doctor said that, although my triglyceride number was high, combining it with my HDL and LDL numbers in some kind of calculation made it such that he wasn’t worried about trying to lower it. (I currently take no medication for cholesterol.) Does that make sense?

  • bethmoore

    Whatever, they shove Tylenol on people once they’re cut off from good pain meds. Especially after open heart surgery.

  • teresa Menicucci

    You say supplements but where is your list? Check with your doctor? Really? Most have no clue.