HEALTH

Antioxidants can help prevent heart attacks, study shows

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK The bacteria-fighting enzyme that causes nasal mucus to turn green also causes damage during heart attacks, but scientists in Australia may have found a way to control it.

According to published reports, researchers at the University of Sydney’s Heart Research Institute and the Queensland University of Technology have found antioxidants that could control the enzyme myeloperoxidase and stop it from causing damage when white blood cells release it during heart attacks. Normally, the cells dump myeloperoxidase on bacteria to kill them.

The research will appear in Biochemical Journal.

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CVS Caremark study shows drug therapy helps osteoporosis patients

BY Michael Johnsen

WOONSOCKET, R.I. Data released Monday by CVS Caremark indicated that 87% of women 18 years and older with osteoporosis who were taking a drug therapy to treat the disease did not experience a fracture during a two-year study period.

The CVS Caremark data also found that those women with osteoporosis between the ages of 18 and 64 who were not on therapy were 5.7 times more likely to experience a fracture.

“Osteoporosis impacts millions of women in the United States and the resulting fractures due to bone loss associated with the disease can have a significant impact on the individual’s quality of life and increase overall health care costs for the patient and the payor,” stated Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer, CVS/Caremark. “Our research suggests that the medications available today to treat osteoporosis are effective in combating the disease and those women who take and remain adherent to therapy are better able to maintain their mobility and quality of life while avoiding costly fractures.”

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, approximately 8 million women in the United States have osteoporosis and an additional 27.2 million women are estimated to have low bone mass, which places them at increased risk for developing the disease. In addition, the NOF reports that one in two women with osteoporosis over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis related fracture in their remaining lifetime. The NOF also reports that in 2005, osteoporosis-related fractures were responsible for an estimated $19 billion in costs, which is predicted to increase to $25.3 billion by 2025.

The study analyzed women diagnosed with osteoporosis over a two-year period. Untreated women less than 65 years of age were 5.7 times more likely to experience a fracture than those treated with a bisphosphonate, estrogen, or other hormone-related osteoporosis therapy. This study evaluated aggregated and de-identified data for almost 400,000 women from the CVS Caremark Health Management Claims Database who had incurred claims between 01/01/07 and 12/31/08. All study participants were continuously eligible for medical and pharmacy benefits throughout the evaluation period. This analysis is an observational study only, and the results demonstrate a relationship between osteoporosis, osteoporotic pharmacotherapy, and fractures; however, as in most observational studies, the causal nature of this relationship cannot be strictly determined.

“The National Osteoporosis Foundation emphasizes the importance of patient adherence and persistence to a prescribed treatment regimen in order to get the maximum benefit from a medication,” stated Robert Recker, NOF president. “NOF is proud to sponsor National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month in May as an opportunity to raise awareness of this disease, help women understand their risk for developing osteoporosis and provide information about the treatments available today to help manage osteoporosis and reduce the risk of fracture.”

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Nearly 4,700 cases of swine flu reported, WHO says

BY Michael Johnsen

GENEVA As of 06:00 GMT Monday, 30 countries officially reported 4,694 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection, the World Health Organization reported.

The number of confirmed cases in the United States has spiked to 2,532 cases as of 11 a.m. Sunday, including three deaths, across 44 states.

“Today there are almost 3,000 probable and confirmed cases here in the United States in 45 states and the District of Columbia,” Anne Schuchat, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on Friday. At the time, there were 2,254 confirmed cases.

“There are 104 hospitalized cases and we … are still seeing quite a few of the hospitalized cases having underlying diseases,” Schuchat said. “Our assessment is that transmission here in the U.S. is ongoing, that there is a very easily transmissible virus similar to the seasonal influenza viruses.”

Included in that global tally are 48 cases in the Southern Hemisphere — 40 in South America, including one death; one in Australia; and seven in New Zealand. The Southern Hemisphere is currently entering its seasonal influenza season.

Mexico has reported 1,626 laboratory confirmed human cases of infection, including 48 deaths. Canada has reported 284 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death.

WHO is not currently recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) virus.

Click here to view current domestic and foreign H1N1 instances.

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