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The risky side of weight-loss dietary supplements: disrupting arrhythmias causing sudden cardiac arrest
  1. Faisal Inayat1,
  2. Chaudhry Nasir Majeed2,
  3. Nouman Safdar Ali1,
  4. Maham Hayat3 and
  5. Izzah Vasim2
  1. 1 Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan
  2. 2 Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA
  3. 3 Oklahoma University Medical Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Faisal Inayat, faisalinayat{at}


The worldwide increasing prevalence of obesity has led to a corresponding increase in consumption of weight-loss dietary supplements. The limited de novo regulatory oversight and under-reported toxicity profile of these products reflect as a constellation of newer adverse events. We chronicle here the case of an otherwise healthy woman who developed ventricular fibrillation-related cardiac arrest secondary to the use of Hydroxycut and Metaboost preparations. Published medical literature has a handful of case reports associating these products with potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. The proposed hypothesis implicates ingredients of these diet aids to have proarrhythmogenic effects. Physicians should remain vigilant for possible cardiotoxicity associated with the use of dietary supplements. Individuals who are at risk of developing cardiac arrhythmias should avoid herbal weight-loss formulas, given the serious clinical implications. Additionally, this paper highlights the need for a proper framework to delineate the magnitude and scope of this association.

  • arrhythmias
  • drug interactions
  • healthcare improvement and patient safety
  • vitamins and supplements
  • obesity (public health)

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  • Patient consent for publication Obtained.

  • Contributors FI: designed the study, drafted the manuscript, formulated the data table, reviewed the manuscript, made pertinent modifications and gave the final approval for the version published. CNM: revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content. NSA: reviewed the literature, drafted and revised the manuscript. MH: contributed to the background. IV: revised the manuscript and suggested pertinent modifications.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.