December 6, 2023

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Can Statins Plus Grapefruit Lead to Rhabdomyolysis?

Can Statins Plus Grapefruit Lead to Rhabdomyolysis?



Can Statins Plus Grapefruit Lead to Rhabdomyolysis?

As the temperatures drop and the season for enjoying grapefruit approaches, it’s important to be aware of potential health risks when consuming this juicy fruit, also known as “red grapefruit.”

While grapefruit is beloved for its vibrant color and delicious taste, its unique composition can interact adversely with certain commonly used medications.

 

A 40-year-old female patient, who had been taking atorvastatin for over 2 years due to high cholesterol, had been tolerating the medication well without any notable issues. However, in the past 10 days, she experienced severe weakness and muscle pain in her lower limbs, leading to a diagnosis of rhabdomyolysis.

Upon further investigation of her medical history, it was revealed that the patient had been consuming one grapefruit daily for the past two weeks.  It was suspected that the grapefruit consumption had triggered rhabdomyolysis in combination with atorvastatin.

 

Can Statins Plus Grapefruit Lead to Rhabdomyolysis?

 

 

 


 

The Sweet Grapefruit: A Nemesis for Common Cardiovascular Medications

  1. Cholesterol-Lowering Medications: Statins 

Grapefruit affects medication metabolism by containing furanocoumarin derivatives that inhibit the activity of important enzymes in the human body, such as CYP3A4.

CYP3A4 is a crucial enzyme involved in the metabolism of various drugs. Consuming grapefruit juice irreversibly inhibits the CYP3A4 enzyme, reducing the metabolism of drugs that depend on CYP3A4. This leads to increased drug absorption, elevated blood concentration levels, simultaneous enhancement of both the medication’s therapeutic effects and side effects, which can result in adverse reactions, toxicity, or unknown clinical consequences.

 

  1. Calcium Channel Blockers (Blood Pressure Medications)

In 1989, American scientist Bailey discovered the “grapefruit juice effect,” which increases the bioavailability of drugs like nifedipine.

As previously explained, grapefruit juice’s furanocoumarin derivatives inhibit CYP3A4 activity while also enhancing the transport of P-glycoprotein substrates in the intestines, thereby increasing the bioavailability of these medications. Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are substrates for both CYP3A4 and P-glycoprotein. Concurrent use of grapefruit can raise blood drug levels and bioavailability of CCBs, intensifying their blood pressure-lowering effects and potentially jeopardizing patients’ lives.

Nifedipine, felodipine, and nisoldipine, in particular, have lower bioavailability and exhibit more pronounced blood pressure-lowering effects.

Research indicates that the impact of grapefruit juice on the pharmacokinetics of CCBs can last up to 3 days. Even when grapefruit juice is consumed 3 days before taking CCBs, drug interactions may still occur.

Besides common cardiovascular medications, other medications must also be approached with caution:

 

  1. Other Medications 

  • Sedative-Hypnotics: Diazepam, zolpidem, and others: Grapefruit prolongs the metabolism of these sedative medications, leading to increased sedation, dizziness, and the risk of experiencing a “hangover” effect, which can be dangerous for drivers and individuals performing precision tasks.

  • Non-Sedating Antihistamine: Terfenadine: Grapefruit juice can elevate the blood concentration of non-sedating antihistamines like terfenadine, causing dizziness, palpitations, arrhythmias, and even fatal outcomes. Therefore, grapefruit juice should not be consumed while taking terfenadine.

  • Gastrointestinal Motility Enhancers: Domperidone, cisapride: Grapefruit juice can enhance the heart toxicity of domperidone and cisapride. Co-administration can result in dizziness, palpitations, arrhythmias, and even life-threatening situations.

  • Antibiotics: Erythromycin, moxifloxacin: Grapefruit juice can increase the heart toxicity of erythromycin and moxifloxacin, potentially causing dizziness, palpitations, arrhythmias, and life-threatening effects.

  • Immunosuppressive Drugs: Cyclosporine, etc.: Grapefruit can increase the blood concentration of immunosuppressive drugs like cyclosporine, raising the risk of liver and kidney toxicity. Long-term consumption of grapefruit alongside such drugs may lead to the development of tumors.

  • Birth Control Pills: These medications are metabolized by the CYP3A4 enzyme. If consumed with grapefruit or grapefruit juice, furanocoumarins in grapefruit can inhibit CYP3A4 production, elevating blood drug levels and intensifying both their therapeutic effects and side effects, which poses a significant risk.

 

 

Research has shown that after consuming grapefruit juice, some individuals experienced blood drug concentrations several times higher than when taking the same medication with water.

Furthermore, the effect of grapefruit juice on blood drug concentrations can last up to 24 hours and may persist for 3 to 7 days.

To prevent medication-related tragedies, it is recommended to avoid grapefruit consumption for three days before and six hours after taking medications, and to be cautious of food items containing grapefruit.

 

 

 

 

Can Statins Plus Grapefruit Lead to Rhabdomyolysis?

(source:internet, reference only)


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