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Killer Combinations

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AVENTURA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - Did you know mixing cheese or processed meats and antidepressants could spike your blood pressure?  Or that licorice & blood pressure meds could lead to paralysis? If you're not careful, the drugs meant to save you could actually do more harm than good. We'll show you how everything from the time of day, to the type of food we eat could do us harm.

From prescription to over-the-counter, medicinal mistakes put at least 1.3 million Americans at risk of premature death each year. The wrong combination of foods and drugs, at the wrong time could make a life or death difference. For Debra Jacobson, it was blood pressure meds.

"Everybody that has high blood pressure must take this," Jacobson told Ivanhoe.

At her worst, she hit a dangerous 210 over 190. Normal is 120 over 80.

"He took my pressure and he sent me to another doctor he said ‘you're going to die' I said ‘not ready!" Jacobson laughed.

Her doctor's advice? It all came down to medicine.

"He said you need to take it at night and since I've been taking it at night my pressure in the morning is normal, and it never was," Jacobson said.

Within three days she saw a drastic change. Dr. Alan Ackermann said taking blood pressure meds at night can cut your risk of heart attack and stroke by one-third.

"I wish I could take them to our stroke center and that will drive the point. It's called a silent killer for a reason," Dr. Alan Ackermann, Board certified cardiologist told Ivanhoe.

Another mistake? Mixing cholesterol-lowering meds like statins with grapefruit.

"It can be half a grapefruit," Dr. Ackermann explained.

They share the same pathway of metabolism in the liver. When combined, some statins can cause drug levels to become toxic. The grapefruit breaks down some statins too quickly, making them too toxic too fast. To be safe, talk to your doctor about what you're taking and time your meds for eight to 12 hours after you eat grapefruit. Another deadly combo? Alcohol and acetaminophens. While most won't shoot whiskey with their Tylenol, popping just one to stave off a morning hangover could put you at risk for liver failure.

"If you go out, drinking and you get a headache after the night I would encourage you not to take any Tylenol especially if you've had alcohol within the past four to six hours," Dr. Ackermann said.

Not a drinker? Not off the hook! Most women know smoking while on birth control can cause blood clots, but just one cigarette could cause a blocked artery in your lung. And if you're past the childbearing age you're still at risk.

"Any institution of hormones, hormone replacement therapy and the addition of smoking increases the risk for these events," Dr. Ackermann explained.

Finally, the same pills you take for pain could be raising your blood pressure.

"Most people aren't aware ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil do contain salt in it and that has been associated with an increase in high blood pressure," Dr. Ackermann said.

As much as 20 points higher. Dr. Ackermann said when it comes to managing your meds, awareness is key. Whether it's watching what you do or when you do it, like Debra it could save your life.

You may want to think twice before you pop that extra Tylenol.  A new study found that taking just a little more than the daily-recommended dosage or 3,000 milligrams could add up over several days, and lead to a dangerous overdose.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

BACKGROUND:  A medication error is any event that could have been prevented that may cause inappropriate medication use or harm to an individual.  Director of the Division of Medication Error Prevention and Analysis in FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Carol Holquist, R.Ph was quoted as saying, "All parts of the health care system—including health professionals and patients—have a role to play in preventing medication errors (Source: webmd.com)."  Medical mistakes relating to prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs, puts 1.3 million Americans at risk of death each year. 

EXAMPLES OF DEADLY COMBINATIONS:  Some medicine related injuries are simply innocent mistakes that patients do because they do not know any better.  Mixing medicines with the wrong food at the wrong time can result in serious injury.  Some examples are:

  • Taking Blood Pressure Medicine at Night.  Most people's blood pressure drops by 10 percentat night between 12 to 3 a.m.  A study in Italy showed that patients who have kidney disease who took medicine at night experience a cardiovascular benefit cutting their risk of a stroke or heart attack (Source: webmd.com).
  • Mixing Cholesterol Lowering Meds with Grapefruit.  Grapefruits contain a chemical that makes statins more potent and can absorb into the blood stream too quickly and results in making the statins too toxic. It is dangerous because it is uncertain what the effect can have on a patient's total cholesterol (Source: mayoclinic.com).
  • Alcohol & Acetaminophens (Tylenol).  Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol. It is primarily metabolized by the liver.  When mixed together, the combination can cause serious liver damage (Source: webmd.com).
  • Birth Control/Hormone Therapy & Smoking.  On the warning labels of most all birth control pills there is a warning that use of medicine can by itself result in blood clots.  When combined with tobacco products it can make the risk of stroke, heart attack, blood clots, and high blood pressure much higher.  Smoking alone is a major cause of coronary heart disease.  A person's risk of heart disease and heart attack greatly increases with the number of cigarettes the individual smokes.  Another risk is having a pulmonary embolism (the sudden blockage of a major blood vessel (artery) in the lung, usually by a blood clot).  Taking birth control pills and smoking both increase the risk for a pulmonary embolism (Source: webmd.com). 
  • NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) and Blood Pressure.  NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, can be used to relieve pain, swelling, stiffness, and tenderness; however, there is a warning for people to talk to their doctor before taking if they have certain conditions or illnesses including high blood pressure.  NSAIDs can decrease the kidney's function and it may cause your body to retain fluid.  Some NSAIDs also contain salt that is commonly associated with high blood pressure (Source: webmd.com).

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Alan Ackermann, MD
(305) 935-5101
askdra@cardio-wellness.net

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