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This Supplement Can Raise Your Heart Attack Risk Experts Say

Cardiologist says these three supplements may harm your heart.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Labels on supplements promise big things like weight loss, great skin, shiny hair and overall good health, but some actually end up hurting you. To keep a healthy heart a number of things are required like a balanced diet, exercise, not smoking and managing stress. Taking dietary supplements might seem like another way to stay healthy, but some increase the risk of a heart attack.  Eat This, Not That Health spoke with Ryan Barry, DO, Non-invasive Cardiology at Staten Island University Hospital who shares three supplements that can cause harm to your heart and why. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


What to Know About Taking Supplements


Dr. Barry reveals, "Supplements generally have little to no regulations. While some companies may state they are verified, it is unknown the levels of active ingredients or other additives in most supplements. They also do not undergo rigorous studies for safety and efficacy. The FDA does technically regulate dietary supplements. However, it is only after the private company does its own safety testing."


How to Treat Vitamin Deficiencies without Supplements


According to Dr. Barry, "Most vitamin deficiencies can be treated with diet! Most of the foods we eat have more than enough the recommended daily needs for people with deficiencies. Those with vitamin deficiencies should speak to their doctors about dietary changes." 



caffeine supplement

Dr. Barry explains, "While it is naturally found in coffees and teas, many other products like energy drinks and over the counter pills contain large amounts of caffeine. It is a stimulant used to boost energy, alertness and possibly promote weight loss. Caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure which may place more stress on the heart. If there is underlying or undiagnosed heart disease, this could precipitate a heart attack. The FDA recommends less than 400 mg of caffeine per day, so it is important to check the labels of certain beverages." 


Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium)

Portrait of smiling young woman with Omega 3 fish oil capsule

"Bitter orange is used as a weight loss supplement. It contains synephrine which is believed to aid in weight loss," says Dr. Barry. "Synephrine is similar to ephedrine, found in ephedra, which is now banned in the US. It can cause elevation in blood pressure and cause spasm of the coronary artery, which may lead to a heart attack. While not currently banned, the FDA found most bitter orange supplement labeling underestimated the amount of synephrine actually contained in the product." 



worried senior man in tension at bed.

Dr. Barry states, "L-arginine is used as a supplement for erectile dysfunction. L-arginine is an amino acid, a building block for proteins and nitric oxide. Nitric oxide will relax your blood vessels, leading to lower blood pressure, increased circulation and possibly promote erections. It may interact with other cardiac medications, causing increased or decreased effectiveness, which may be dangerous for heart health. In people who have had heart attacks in the past, this could lead to complications and possibly another heart attack."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather