The use of nonprescription and herbal products by the public is rising, resulting in an increased potential for adverse reactions or drug interactions in cardiac patients.
To describe the utilization patterns for nonprescription medications and herbal products in patients with cardiovascular disease across Canada.
Patients admitted to 8 teaching hospitals during the winter of 1998/1999 were interviewed by a pharmacist using a structured survey instrument.
Interviews were conducted with 306 patients (mean age 66 y; 60% men). The majority (74%) had coronary artery disease; however, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmias were also common. The most common product categories used were pain relievers (51%), single-entity vitamin/mineral (38%), multivitamin/mineral (23%), antacids (21%), laxatives (17%), and herbals (17%). As compared with western (28%) and central Canada (26%), fewer patients in the Atlantic region (11%) reported daily use of multivitamin/mineral products. Overall, the usage of specific single-entity vitamin/mineral products was most commonly vitamin E (24%), vitamin C (16%), calcium (9%), and B vitamins (8%). Central Canada reported the highest rates (25%) of daily or weekly use of herbal products. The most common herbal products used were garlic (13%), cayenne pepper (2%), and ginseng (2%). More than half of the patients consulted with their pharmacist at least occasionally regarding the use of these products.
Canadian patients with cardiovascular disease commonly report the use of herbal products and vitamins. Allied health professionals need to be aware of the widespread use of these products and their potential for adverse reactions and drug interactions.