FDA Approves 'More Effective' Hypertension Drug

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a drug that it says is more effective than others when it comes to treating high blood pressure.

The FDA approved Edarbi tablets for treatment of hypertension in adults. Officials say data from clinical studies shows that Edarbi has proven to be more effective in lowering 24-hour blood pressure as compared to FDA-approved hypertension drugs, Diovan and Benicar.

"High blood pressure is often called the 'silent killer' because it usually has no symptoms until it causes damage to the body," said Norman Stockbridge, M.D., Ph.D., of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "High blood pressure remains inadequately controlled in many people diagnosed with the condition, so having a variety of treatment options is important."

In a release, the FDA described Edarbi as being an angiotensin II receptor blocker that lowers blood pressure by blocking the action of angiotensin II, a vasopressor hormone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Probes Links Between Hot Flashes, Heart Attacks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- A new study suggests that women who experience that crimson blush of a hot flash early on in their menopause experience seemed to have a lower risk of heart attack.

"The timing of hot flashes may make a big difference in terms of what they signify in terms of heart health," said Dr. Ellen Seely, of Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, the senior author of the study.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, and the risk increases dramatically after menopause. The study found a woman's risk of heart attack rises depending on when hot flashes begin in menopause.

The study analyzed data from more than 60,000 women over an average of almost 10 years. Women were asked to recall their symptoms -- like hot flashes and night sweats -- in questionnaires about their health. The women were in their early 60s on average, about 14 years after the start of menopause.

Dr. Sharonne Hayes, from the Mayo Clinic's department of cardiovascular diseases, said the results of the study add to the growing understanding of the complicated relationship between symptoms of menopause and heart attacks later in life.

"What it does tell us is that the interplay between hot flashes and night sweats and future cardiovascular risk and menopause is much more complex than we thought it was before," she said, but cautioned more research is needed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


After Cancer, Americans Most Fear Alzheimer's Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Americans live in fear when it comes to possibly contracting a fatal disease.

According to a poll conducted last year by Harris Interactive for the MetLife Foundation, four out of ten people are most concerned about getting cancer. That’s up slightly from 2006, when the question was posed about scary illnesses.

Next on the worry meter is Alzheimer’s disease, with three out of ten Americans fearing that debilitating condition the most. In 2006, just 20 percent of respondents listed Alzheimer’s as number one on their list of potentially fatal diseases.

Despite real fears about Alzheimer’s, nearly two-thirds of Americans admit knowing very little or virtually nothing about the brain-wasting disease that gradually robs people of their memory and cognitive skills.

As far as other serious conditions are concerned, heart disease, stroke and diabetes were feared the most by 8 percent, 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Addicted to Your Smartphone? One in Five Say 'Yes'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It doesn’t matter if it’s an iPhone or a BlackBerry, a new survey finds one in five smartphone owners are addicted to their high-tech toys.  The addiction is highest amongst iPhone owners, with 26 percent admitting being hooked.  The survey was conducted by Crowd Science, an online market research firm.

Additional findings from the smartphone survey:

  • People between the ages of 30 and 49 are the heaviest users of smartphone features, while respondents who are 50 years of age and older use fewer features, particularly text messaging, games and social media, and do so less frequently.
  • 58 percent of smartphone owners say they perform local and map-based activities at least once a week, while 25 percent say they do so less than once a month.  Eleven percent indicate they never do so.
  • 89 percent of smartphone owners believe it’s taboo to break up with someone via text message.
  • If their smartphone fell in a public toilet, 57 percent of respondents would fish it out.  Agreement was highest among iPhone owners, at 65 percent, compared with 49 percent for BlackBerry owners.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Typo Prompts Johnson & Johnson Recall

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Johnson & Johnson is recalling certain packages of Sudafed because of a typo.

The recall involves Sudafed’s extended-release 24 Hour tablets. The product is fine – consumers can still use it – but the problem is a misprint on the product’s box. There's a double negative that reads "do not not divide, crush, chew or dissolve the tablet."

The internal packaging has the proper instructions but Johnson & Johnson and the Food and Drug Administration were concerned enough about the typo to recall 600,000 packages.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Stroke Centers Better at Treating Strokes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Duke Clinical Research Institute studied nearly 31,000 patients who were admitted to both accredited and unaccredited primary stroke hospitals in New York for one year.

All participants suffered an acute ischemic stroke where blood flow to the brain is blocked by a blood clot.

The authors found a lower death rate among patients one month after hospitalization at designated stroke centers compared to undesignated hospitals. The mortality rate dropped from 12.5 percent to 10.1 percent.

Long term survival also improved slightly a year after treatment.  The death rate at specialized stroke centers was 22.3 percent compared to 26 percent at other facilities.

The study shows that when time permits, it is better to take a stroke victim to a designated center. Almost 700 of the 5,000 acute care hospitals nationwide are designated stroke centers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Waiting for a Kidney: Survival of the Fittest?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(RICHMOND, Va.) -- Jerry Powell's kidneys may be dying, but the 50-year-old newlywed still has a lot of living to do. Within weeks, Powell will rely on dialysis to filter his blood, and ultimately, he'll need a kidney transplant. But the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) -- the organization charged with allocating the nation's organs -- is considering a policy change that could impact Powell's standing.

Currently, those at the top of an 87,000-strong waiting list are next in line for a matched kidney -- regardless of age and health status.

"We started with what we thought was best at the time, but as things change we need to make improvements," said Dr. Christopher Marsh, chief of transplant surgery at the Scripps Center for Organ and Cell Transplantation and UNOS board member. "The current system is not fair. The new approach, from a medical and scientific standpoint, is an improvement."

The proposed change, which was released as a concept document Feb. 16 for public comment, would reserve 20 percent of donor organs for those recipients expected to live the longest after a transplant, and the remaining 80 percent for recipients age-matched to within 15 years of the donor.

"This would reduce the possibility that a candidate reasonably expected to live ten more years receives a kidney that may function for 40 years, or conversely that a candidate reasonably expected to live 40 more years receives a kidney that may function for only ten," Anne Paschke a spokeswoman for UNOS, said in a statement.

Only 17,000 Americans receive a transplant each year, and more than 4,600 die waiting.

Although the proposal was only recently made public, the idea has been around for almost a decade. According to the 40-page proposal, people over 50 would lose an advantage they currently hold. The donor pool for a 60-year-old could theoretically be cut by half.

For patients like Powell, the change could mean getting an older kidney with fewer functional years. It could also mean getting an "extended criteria donation" -- a kidney that, until recent years, would not have been transplanted at all.

Although the proposal raises sensitive issues surrounding health care and social justice, the topic of rationing is one that, at least for kidney transplants, is very real.

UNOS is inviting feedback on the proposal until April 1.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


McDonald's 'Wholesome' Oatmeal: Same Calories As a Snickers Bar?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- McDonald's sells its oatmeal as a healthy breakfast alternative, but according to one food critic, it includes too many not-so-healthy ingredients. Its new oatmeal, which McDonald's released nationwide last month as a "bowl full of wholesome," is actually a crock full of something else, according to Mark Bittman, a food author and blogger for The New York Times.

"It's put forward as this wholesome thing when, in fact, it's sort of an amalgam of ingredients you wouldn't ordinarily have at home," he said.

The oatmeal bought in any grocery store across the country only has one ingredient, oats. But McDonald's oatmeal has 21 ingredients, including natural flavor, barley malt extract and caramel color.

"I think it's misleading to portray this as a healthy breakfast because the McDonald's oatmeal has about the same amount of sugar as a Snickers bar, has about the same amount of calories as one of their hamburgers," Bittman said. "It's just an odd way to go about serving a healthy breakfast."

Julia Braun, a registered dietitian for McDonald's USA, points out that people also add ingredients to the oatmeal they buy in the store. "About half comes from natural sources," she said of McDonald's oatmeal calorie count. She also said it's misleading to compare McDonald's oatmeal to a Snickers bar.

McDonald's oatmeal has 290 calories when fully loaded with cream and fruit. Plain oats -- with no additives -- are 150 calories per serving, before adding any sugar, syrup or fruits.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Herceptin May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer Returning

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new study suggests the cancer drug Herceptin reduces risk of breast cancer reappearing, according to HealthDay.

The four-year study, which was conducted in Milan, studied over 5,000 women with early-stage breast cancer from nearly 40 countries. The statistics show Herceptin reduced recurrence by 24 percent, HealthDay reports.

The patients took Herceptin after chemotherapy treatment for a year. Doctors are still not sure what the most effective period for Herceptin is in cancer treatment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Officials Warn of Global Warming Health Risks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- U.S. medical authorities convened Thursday to urge lawmakers to consider the health risks of global warming.

Some experts allege global warming could endanger many citizens. The American Public Health Association cited deaths of the elderly during heat waves as likely in the event of rising world temperatures, according to a report by HealthDay.

The announcement comes in the wake of the House of Representatives's agreement to cut the Environment Protection Agency's budget, and Republican opposition to a strict greenhouse emissions rule.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, the APHA's executive director, argued that legislation against global warming could be modeled on the Clean Air Act, which was approved in 1970.

Nationwide polls have shown public support for global warming legislation waning in the past few years, especially after the so-called Climategate scandal in 2009, in which leaked emails from some prominent climatologists apparently showed them trying to hide the decline of global temperatures since the late 1990s. Concerns over the economy and the especially snowy winter of 2010/2011 also cooled global warming fears in this country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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