If you’re used to having half a grapefruit or a glass of grapefruit juice with your breakfast, you’ll have to change your menu once you start a heart medication regimen. Checking the labels on most statins and other heart medicines reveals a warning about grapefruit, its juice, and related products. It seems like an odd connection with a harmless food, but there’s a good reason to switch your citrus choice.

Drug Absorption

The core of the problem is a chemical compound in grapefruit called furanocoumarins. These chemicals affect the rate at which your body will absorb certain medications. Your medicine is formulated to give your body a certain dose strength every day, but ingesting grapefruit can cause an enzyme imbalance that leaves more of your medication in your bloodstream than is healthy. Instead of processing the medication, your body will hang on to it and allow it to build up to unsafe levels.

Dangers

The main reason this can be dangerous is that it increases the severity of certain side effects. According to the FDA, this can cause liver damage and even kidney failure. You may also suffer from increased blood sugar, digestive problems, or neurological issues such as memory loss and confusion. Women and those over 65 are in the most danger of this reaction, but grapefruit can have this reaction with medication in any patient taking these drugs.

How Much Grapefruit is Too Much?

According to experts, one glass of grapefruit juice or one half of a grapefruit includes enough of the chemical compound to cause a reaction in some people. The best and safest course of action is to completely eliminate grapefruit from your diet.

If you are concerned about how certain foods may interact with your heart medication, or if your primary care physician recommends you see an electrophysiologist (EP), contact Dr. Dilip Mathew today. As Sarasota’s leading EP doctor, Dr. Mathew specializes in ablation therapy for AFib and has been serving the Tampa Bay and Sarasota area since 2004. If you have any questions about the best way to live a heart-healthy lifestyle, contact Dr. Mathew to make an appointment.