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Avoid dangerous food/drug combinations

February 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Did you know mixing cheese or processed meats and antidepressants could spike your blood pressure? Or that licorice and blood pressure medications could lead to paralysis? If you're not careful, the drugs meant to save you could actually do more harm than good.

The wrong combination of foods and drugs at the wrong time could make a life-or-death difference.

Doctor Alan Ackermann, a board-certified cardiologist, says taking blood-pressure meds at night can cut your risk of heart attack and stroke by a third.

Another mistake: Mixing cholesterol-lowering medications like statins with grapefruit. The grapefruit breaks down some statins too quickly, making them too toxic too fast. To be safe, talk to your doctor about what you're taking and time your meds for eight to 12 hours after you eat grapefruit.

Another deadly combo: Alcohol and acetaminophens. Popping just one to stave off a morning hangover could put you at risk for liver failure.

"If you go out drinking and you get a headache at the night, I would encourage you not to take any Tylenol," said Ackermann.

Not a drinker? You're not off the hook. Most women know smoking while on birth control can cause blood clots. But just one cigarette could cause a blocked artery in your lung.

Finally, the same pills you take for pain could be raising your blood pressure by as much as 20 points.

"Most people aren't aware of medications like ibuprofen, brand name Motrin, Advil, do contain salt in it," said Ackermann.

Being aware and watching what you do and when you do it could save your life.

Experts add that people with high blood pressure are at extra risk if they take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, because they reduce blood flow to the kidneys. So fluid builds up in the rest of the body, driving up blood pressure.