Use of nonprescription medications for perceived cardiovascular health

Margaret B. Artz, Lisa J Harnack, Sue Duval, Chris Armstrong, Donna K. Arnett, Russell V Luepker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Nonprescription products (over-the-counter drugs; vitamins/minerals; and nonvitamin, nonmineral supplements) are promoted or advertised for cardiovascular health. The extent of nonprescription products used specifically for perceived cardiovascular health (NONRX-CVH) is unknown. This study aimed to (1) determine prevalence and types of nonprescription medications used for NONRX-CVH, (2) compare the demographics of NONRX-CVH users to persons using nonprescription medications in general, and (3) determine the prevalence of use of NONRX-CVH among those taking a prescription medication for a cardiovascular reason. Methods: A cross-sectional survey comprised the probability sample of 3128 adults in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in the 2000-2002 Minnesota Heart Survey. Trained interviewers collected medication information from participants using a structured medication inventory approach. Results: Analysis in 2005 shows that 10% of participants (n=315) self-reported taking one or more nonprescription medications in the past 2 weeks for a perceived cardiovascular health purpose. Among these individuals, prevalence of use of vitamin/mineral supplements, nonvitamin/nonmineral supplements, and over-the-counter products for a cardiovascular purpose was 37.5%, 21.3%, and 54.6%, respectively. Popular NONRX-CVHs were aspirin (52.1%), vitamin E (24.4%), garlic (9.8%), and omega-3/fish oils/fatty acids (3.8%). NONRX-CVH users were older than general nonprescription users (p<0.001). Of 613 people using a prescription drug for cardiovascular reasons, 135 (22%) reported using one or more NONRX-CVH medications. Conclusions: Use of NONRX-CVHs, especially aspirin, vitamin E, and herbals, is common, and older patients may use aspirin or dietary supplements for this purpose. Physicians having patients with cardiovascular disease should ask about nonprescription medication usage, as some NONRX-CVHs may be inappropriate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-81
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Community Surveillance of Cardiovascular Disease—Risk Factor Survey (MHS) (R01 HL023727).

Funding Information:
MBA received financial support for this project from the VFW Endowed Chair in Pharmacotherapy for the Elderly, College of Pharmacy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN.


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