Juice and tonic combination that can cause ‘serious heart problems’ is potentially ‘deadly’

Grapefruit juice has long been valued for its organoleptic properties and low calorie content. However, its popularity was shattered after scientists discovered that it could have harmful interactions with an extensive list of drugs. Some studies have shown that the fruit can also interact dangerously with tonic when consumed by some people.

The main problem with grapefruit is that it inhibits the CYP3A4 enzyme, which metabolizes over 65 percent of all drugs.

“This affects a significant number of medications, but the most important causes for concern are probably some of the statins widely prescribed to lower cholesterol levels,” explains Science Direct.

According to various studies, mixing grapefruit with a tonic containing quinine, a naturally occurring substance, can cause similar effects.

“People with irregular heart rhythms should avoid taking grapefruit juice and tonic water together. This combination may worsen some heart conditions,” warns Medline Plus.

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“Also, do not drink red wine and grapefruit juice together if you are taking any medication. This combination could make grapefruit juice even more drug-reactive.”

Science Direct explains that the combination of tonic and grapefruit is dangerous because the juice can inhibit the enzymes responsible for quinine metabolism.

Thus, concomitant consumption of grapefruit juice with quinine may increase the concentration of the nutrient in the blood and increase the risk of side effects of quinine.

In 2003, the American Journal of Medicine highlighted the risk in a report titled Grapefruit and Tonic: A Deadly Combination for a Patient with Long QT Syndrome.

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This was the case in the case of one 31-year-old man with long QT syndrome who drank an excessive amount of tonic water containing quinine along with grapefruit juice.

The patient was hospitalized with torsades de pointes, a specific type of heart rhythm disorder that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

Within two days of stopping the drink, the patient’s heart rate stabilized.

The authors of the study suggested that the heart rhythm problems could be caused by the interaction of quinine with grapefruit juice.

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What is long QT syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, long QT syndrome is defined as a disorder of cardiac signaling that causes a rapid and erratic heartbeat.

The condition is thought to be passed on due to defective genes inherited from parents, but the NHS states that certain medications, such as antibiotics, can also cause the condition.

“Drug-induced long QT syndrome typically only affects people who already have a tendency to develop the condition.” explains the NHS.

Since grapefruit juice can affect the electrical currents in the heart, it is also wise to avoid mixing the drink with certain additives.

“Taking grapefruit with other supplements with a similar effect may increase the risk of serious heart problems,” explains MedlinePlus.

“Examples of supplements with such effects include bitter orange, ephedra, iboga, and ginseng.”

Because drug interactions with grapefruit are well documented, it may be worth checking with your doctor if you are taking medication.

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