1. Nieva, Reynaria MD
  2. Safavynia, Seyed A. PhD
  3. Lee Bishop, Kathy DPT, MS
  4. Laurence, Sperling MD


PURPOSE: The use of complementary and alternative medicine is common and continues to rise each year, both in the general population and among those with cardiovascular disease. While some supplements may incur risk, particularly when used concomitantly with cardiovascular medications, others have proven benefits. However, supplements such as antioxidants and many herbs can have significant interactions with cardiovascular medications. This study aimed to identify the percentage of patients enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation program taking herbal, vitamin, and mineral supplements.


METHODS: Electronic and paper charts of 235 patients enrolled in a phase 3 cardiac rehabilitation program were reviewed. Their demographics, medical history, and medications were stratified in an Excel chart, using a large matrix from which data were imported into Matlab for analysis. Custom Matlab programs were created and compiled to determine variables of interest, including percentages of patients with a specific medical condition taking certain supplements.


RESULTS: Sixty-seven percent of patients enrolled in the cardiac rehabilitation program were taking vitamins, with or without minerals (67%, 158 of 235). Multivitamin is the most common form of supplement (51%, 119 of 235), followed by fish oil/omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (27%, 64 of 235).


CONCLUSION: The majority of patients in a phase 3 cardiac rehabilitation program are taking some form of herbal, vitamin, or mineral supplement. Given frequent, complicated patient medication regimens, it is important to educate patients on the potential benefits as well as lack of evidence and possible dangers of supplements.