Heart Drugs News: November 2006 Archives

Folic acid can cut heart attack risk


folic acidLONDON - Can taking folic acid supplements reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke? British researchers believe it can.

After analysing evidence from earlier studies, a team of scientists in Britain said on Friday there is enough research that shows folic acid lowers levels of the amino acid homocysteine and reduces the odds of cardiovacular disease.

"The evidence is very persuasive that lowering homocysteine with folic acid will lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by about 10-20 percent," David Wald, of the Wolfson Institute for Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London, Queen Mary School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, said in an interview.

Chocolate helps the heart. Sweet!


chocolateResearchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that dark chocolate thins blood and protects the heart in the same way as aspirin. The key is a compound in chocolate called flavanol, which slows down platelet clumping that can block off blood vessels and lead to a heart attack or stroke.

You have to eat at least a couple of tablespoons of dark chocolate a day to see some benefit - and it's still not as effective as a single baby aspirin, which is usually prescribed to heart patients.

Matching aspirin would require eating several bars of chocolate a day, which could lead to other problems, such as obesity and diabetes - to say nothing of tooth decay.

AHA: Heart Failure Patients Oversold on ICD Survival Benefit


implantable cardioverter defibrillatorsCHICAGO, Nov. 12 -- Cardiologists may be overselling the life-saving ability of implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) to the point that many heart failure patients refuse to let the devices be turned off, even if it would be better to do so.

In a survey at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, 36% of patients with ICDs said they would never agree to turn off the defibrillator function under any circumstance, reported Garrick C. Stewart, M.D., at the American Heart Association meeting here today.

More than half would want the device kept on even if they were receiving daily shocks. Most would keep the device on if they were dying of cancer, and every single one would keep it on even if they were struggling to breathe.

Jury still out on selenium for heart health

seleniumNEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Despite some evidence that the mineral selenium might protect against heart disease, clinical trials have so far failed to prove the case, according to a new research review.

The findings suggest that people should hold off on taking selenium supplements for the sake of their hearts, say researchers.

A number of studies have found that people with higher body stores of selenium might have a lower risk of heart disease. But such studies, known as observational studies, are not enough to prove cause-and-effect.

For that, researchers have to conduct clinical trials where participants are randomly assigned to take a supplement or a placebo and then have their heart health followed over time.

Heart Catheters Do Not Benefit Patients


heartDoctors should probably stop using pulmonary artery catheters because they do not benefit patients, said doctors from Australia recently in the British Medical Journal.

The pulmonary artery catheter was invented in 1968. It enabled bedside monitoring in critically ill patients by measuring heart output and capillary pressure in the lungs and became widely used in intensive care units.

But reports of serious complications soon appeared and arguments for and against its use have continued ever since.

The most recent evaluation, commissioned by the NHS Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme, found that pulmonary artery catheters do not benefit patients and concluded that withdrawing them from UK intensive care units would be cost effective.


Not enough research for coenzyme Q10


coenzyme q10ROCHESTER, Minn., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Scientific evidence doesn't support most of the health claims concerning coenzyme Q10, but some studies do have merit, says a U.S. newsletter.

It's not known if low coenzyme Q10 levels cause disease or if taking supplements can prevent or treat disease, according to the Mayo Clinic Health Letter.

Of the many coenzyme Q10 studies, most have been small. Many have not been "controlled," where some participants take a placebo, but some coenzyme Q10 studies appear to have scientific merit, the newsletter says.

Pfizer Drug Dealt Blow in Testing


Pfizer Pfizer said yesterday that clinical trials of torcetrapib — a heart medication that is the most important drug in the company’s pipeline — confirmed that it raises blood pressure, a potentially serious side effect.

Any problems with torcetrapib would be a serious setback for Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company. Pfizer has been counting on the new medicine to eventually replace the $13 billion in annual sales from the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor, which loses patent protection in 2010.

Cardiologists and Wall Street analysts alike have been closely watching the clinical trials of torcetrapib, a medicine intended to raise so-called good cholesterol.