Cardiologist warns young people to take health supplements

Cardiologist warns young people to take health supplements

Cardiologists are warning people in their 20s not to take herbal supplements, which are causing more heart problems in younger people than previously known.

Dr. Danielle Belardo, a cardiologist based in California, says the most common cause of cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, in her patients in their 20s comes primarily from taking herbal supplements, Well-informed person reports.

Belardo noted that his patients dealing with such heart problems are taking herbs such as ephedra and bitter orange, which have been linked to irregular heartbeats in clinical research and several case studies.

He added that it’s often hard to figure out which supplement is the cause, since his patients often take multiple supplements at once, and the trend has grown more rapidly in recent years.

“This is based on the top of what we know regarding herbal supplements and arrhythmia,” Belardo told the outlet. “Because there is such poor regulation of the formulation, purity, and efficacy of these herbs, we don’t have any solid literature that tells us exactly what is causing what.”

In the cardiology surveillance unit at Klinikum Südstadt Rostock, Jenny-Lee Hocher, a nurse, prepares medical follow-up for a patient (Photo by Bernd Wüstneck/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Herbal supplements used by 80 percent of the world’s population prove to be a multi-billion dollar industry

The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of the world’s population, or about 4 billion people, currently use herbal medicines or supplements for some of their health care.

Herbal supplement sales, including online, totaled $2.95 billion in 2020 alone, according to Herbal Gram.

To make matters worse, the United States does not closely regulate the $1.5 billion wellness industry, allowing supplement companies to circumvent safety and strength regulations and oversight.

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And more Americans are taking herbal and dietary supplements now than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cardiologist Says Most Heart Patients “Go For Herbal (Therapies) And Supplements”

In Southern California, where Dr. Belardo practices, she says that many of the heart patients she sees are those “leaning toward alternative therapies, herbs and supplements.”

Belardo says she and many other cardiologists are starting to ask patients what kind of over-the-counter pills they take, having received similar feedback from other cardiologists, ER doctors and internists across the country after tweeting their concerns.

Dr. Martha Gulati, another California-based cardiologist and president-elect of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology, echoed Belardo’s sentiment regarding herbal supplements.

Heart doctors call herbal supplements “pseudoscience” and warn that “natural” isn’t necessarily safer

Gulati expressed concern to Insider that many people falsely believe that taking “natural” remedies equates to safer medicine than those produced in a lab, calling it “pseudoscience.”

“I think that reflects the growing alternative medicine and essentially pseudoscience in this space,” Belardo said.

Dr. Belardo specifically mentioned podcasts sponsored by supplement companies as one of the main instigators behind this recent phenomenon among young people.

Supplements that have been linked to heart arrhythmia include the aforementioned bitter orange, also called citris aurantium, and ephedra, which was banned in the US in 2004 but still shows up in supplements to this day.

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Fish oil, taken in doses of a gram a day or more, might increase the risk of a type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, according to several studies.

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