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HealthPartners saves big with generics

BY Alaric DeArment

MINNEAPOLIS More than half of the $100 a non-profit health management organization saved came from generic drugs, according to published reports.

HealthPartners, based in Bloomington, Minn., saved $64.4 million by encouraging members to use generics instead of branded drugs. 

According to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, generic drugs can save consumers 30% to 80% each year, while the Congressional Budget Office statistics indicate that generics save $8 billion to $10 billion a year.

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Study finds smoking may increase risk of atrial fibrillation

BY Michael Johnsen

DURHAM, N.C. Cigarette smoking may contribute to the risk of atrial fibrillation a study published this month in the American Heart Journal found.

Atrial fibrillation is a disorder found in about 2.2 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two small upper chambers (the atria) quiver instead of beating effectively. Blood isn’t pumped completely out of them, so it may pool and clot. If a piece of a blood clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results. About 15% of strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation.

The likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation increases with age. Three to 5 percent of people over 65 have atrial fibrillation.The association between cigarette smoking and the risk of atrial fibrillation was examined in 5,668 subjects without atrial fibrillation at baseline as part of the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort study among subjects over the age of 55. Researchers found that both current smokers and former smokers had increased risks of atrial fibrillation as compared to people who never smoked. No differences were found between men and women.

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Study: Treadmill use may help suppress appetites

BY Michael Johnsen

BETHESDA, Md. A vigorous 60-minute workout on a treadmill is more likely to help people lose weight by suppressing appetite than 90 minutes pumping iron, the American Physiological Study announced earlier this month, citing results from a recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

This line of research may eventually lead to more effective ways to use exercise to help control weight, stated senior author David Stensel of Loughborough University in the United Kingdom.

There are several hormones that help regulate appetite, but the researchers looked at two of the major ones, ghrelin and peptide YY.

Ghrelin is the only hormone known to stimulate appetite. Peptide YY suppresses appetite.

Researchers found that the treadmill session caused ghrelin levels to drop and peptide YY levels to increase, indicating the hormones were suppressing appetite. However, a weight-lifting session produced a mixed result. Ghrelin levels dropped, indicating appetite suppression, but peptide YY levels did not change significantly.

“The finding that hunger is suppressed during and immediately after vigorous treadmill running is consistent with previous studies indicating that strenuous aerobic exercise transiently suppresses appetite,” Stensel said. “The findings suggest a similar, although slightly attenuated response, for weight lifting exercise.”

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