Pregnancy Use

In vivo and in vitro evidence of uterine activity has been reported, therefore this herb should not be used in pregnancy (Newell et al 1996).

PRACTICE POINTS/PATIENT COUNSELLING

• Hawthorn has positive inotropic action, increases coronary blood flow, reduces myocardial oxygen demand, protects against myocardial damage, improves heart rate variability, as well as having hypotensive and antiarrhythmic effects.

• Although considered relatively effective, heart disease can be a very serious medical condition with a rapidly changing course and should not be treated without close Hawthorn 688

medical supervision. In particular, chest pain and shortness of breath are extremely serious symptoms that require immediate medical attention.

• It may take 2-6 weeks' treatment to notice a benefit of treatment with hawthorn, and heart rate and blood pressure should be monitored.

• Hawthorn also exhibits antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and lipid-lowering activity.

• Great care should be exercised if hawthorn is to be combined with other drugs that affect the heart.

ANSWERS TO PATIENTS' FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What will this herb do for me?

Hawthorn appears to be useful in treating a variety of heart conditions such as high blood pressure, hyperlipidaemia and heart failure.

When will it start to work?

Studies suggest it will start to have effects in 2-6 weeks.

Are there any safety issues?

Heart conditions are potentially serious, therefore professional supervision is required.

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