Supplements: Three pills linked to elevations in blood pressure and ‘possible death’

Dr Manesh Saxena explains new blood pressure injection

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Blood pressure readings are a measure of the pressure exerted against the arterial walls, which offers an indication of various health risks. As pressure grows inside the veins, it creates an environment conducive for blood clots to form. Unhealthy lifestyle measures, such as smoking and drinking, are well-known contributors to the condition. Occasionally, supplements may also cause drastic elevations in blood pressure, and carry a risk of possible death.

According to the platform Consumer Reports, two supplements linked to an elevation in blood pressure are green tea extract and Yohimbe.

The health body lists dizziness, ringing in the ears, reduced absorption of iron; elevated blood pressure and heart rate, liver damage, and possibly death, as risks associated with the plant extract.

As for Yohimbe supplement, the body warns it “raises blood pressure; causes rapid heart rate, headaches, seizures, liver and kidney problems, heart problems, panic attacks and possibly death”.

Yohimbe is a popular supplement used to aid weight loss and treat erectile dysfunction – but the drug’s harmful effects are less widely discussed.

READ MORE: High blood pressure: New ‘game-changer’ treatment could see you stop taking pills – doctor

Harvard Health explains: “Lesser known is the fact that Yohimbe can have harmful effects, including high blood pressure anxiety, racing heartbeat, and headaches.

“At high doses, purified yohimbine can cause heart failure or death.”

The health body cites a study published in Drug Testing and Analysis, which discovered a number of commercially sold yohimbine supplements contained pharmaceutical-grade extracts of the herb.

The evidence was unearthed during an analysis of 49 popular brands of supplements with yohimbine, sold at popular American outlets.

“The products tested appeared to contain a highly concentrated form of yohimbine that does not occur in nature,” explained Harvard Health.

“That means these so-called natural supplement products are anything but natural – or safe.”

Green tea supplements carry similar risks at higher doses, as they’ve been found to contain higher concentrations of catechins (antioxidants) than are found in an infusion.

The main catechin present in green tea, known as epigallocatechin gallate, is linked to a variety of health benefits at lower doses.

At higher doses, however, the supplement carries a risk of liver damage – but the safe level of catechins has yet to be determined.

Separate health bodies advise against the consumption of liquorice supplements, as their intake can lead to dangerously high blood pressure and low potassium levels.

According to Doctor Christopher S. Baird, Assistant Professor of Physics at West Texas A&M University: “Liquorice contains glycyrrhizinic acid, which sets off a well-understood chain reaction of biochemical events in the body resulting in high blood pressure.”

The NHS warns that the risks may be more pronounced for individuals over 40 who have a history of heart disease.

“Eating more than 57 grams of black liquorice a day for at least two weeks could lead to potentially serious health problems, such as an increase in blood pressure and irregular heart rhythm,” explains the body.

The supplement is taken for its potent antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, which have been tied to several potential benefits.

But as with all supplements, taking the pill at the correct dose is essential for avoiding adverse health outcomes.

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