Although a popular fruit, grapefruits can be life-threatening when mixed with prescription drugs.
An updated list was released last month, with more than 85 medications that are affected by the fruit. A reaction can be expected when drinking a regular amount of grapefruit juice with any of the medications on the list, which includes cholesterol-lowering medications, psychiatric drugs, AIDS medication and birth control pills. However, consumption of grapefruit juice with over 40 drugs on the list can be life-threatening.
Grapefruits contain natural chemicals that cause the gut to absorb much more of the drug and blood levels to rise radically. However, most people suffering adverse reactions are consuming large amounts of grapefruit.
A 42-year old woman was recently rushed to the hospital with falling blood pressure and heart rate. A breathing tube and pacemaker were inserted to save the woman's life. It was then discovered that he consumption of grapefruit juice had interfered with the blood pressure medication she was taking, with a life-threatening result.
Grapefruit was linked to an increase in heart rhythm, which can lead to death. Taken with grapefruit, drugs such as oxycodone, methadone can cause fatal respiratory depression. These interactions can also be caused by Seville oranges, limes and pomelos. Another study has also found that pomegranates may also increase the potency of drugs.
Older people are more vulnerable as the body's ability to cope with drugs weakens with age, and older people are likely to drink more grapefruit juice and be on multiple medications. However, these reactions are predictable and completely avoidable.
Here are some tips from the New York Times for grapefruit lovers:
â¢Â· Check the list to see if your medication interacts with grapefruit. If the reactions are life-threatening, avoid grapefruits, limes and pomelos altogether.
â¢Â· Be on the lookout for symptoms or side effects.
â¢Â· It is not enough to just avoid taking medication at the same time as grapefruit. Avoid grapefruit the entire time you are on the medication
â¢Â· If you can't live without grapefruits, ask your doctor for alternative medications. Also, avoid sudden diet changes.
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Source: The New York Times, "Grapefruit is a Culprit in More Drug Reactions," Dec. 17, 2012.