The Dangers of Statin Drugs


 

So many people go to the doctor with high cholesterol and end up on a statin or cholesterol lowering drug for years, if not their entire lives. Dr. Peter Glidden says there is something fundamentally wrong with that and that prolonged statin use can lead to many more serious conditions.

“You’re central nervous system, your nerves and your brain are made from cholesterol. So, when you drive cholesterol into the ditch, the parts of the body that are made from cholesterol will suffer and eventually fail.”

http://tv.greenmedinfo.com/dangers-statin-drugs/

From the desk of Zedie.

Natural News Blogs 5 Herbs and Mineral to Balance the Hormones .


Hormones do more than regulate sexual function: they can influence every bodily system and therefore hormonal imbalances can lead to a multiplicity of problems throughout the body. Modern medicine is only in recent decades becoming aware of the essential roles that hormones play in overall health, but herbalists and naturopaths have long been aware of this and have used several herbs and minerals to help address hormonal imbalances. 5 of the most common ones are listed below.

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1. St. John’s Wort

One of the most popular and well-known herbs for treating mild to moderate depression, St. John’s Wort is an especially effective treatment for women. It has been known to reduce symptoms of depression related to lower estrogen levels that occur at the end of the menstrual cycle or at the onset of menopause. Studies have shown that daily doses of between 900 and 1,200mg can be as effective at treating estrogen-related blues as many prescription anti-depressants but without the side effects. It can also reduce by half unwanted PMS symptoms.

2. Black Cohosh

Long used as a “women’s herbs” by Native Americans, many modern women are also discovering its benefits. In a recent study from the Annals of Internal Medicine, three out of four women studied reported that daily use of black cohosh eased hot flashes associated with perimenopause. It is also a good choice for women with a history of breast or ovarian cancer, as it does not stimulate the estrogen receptors in the body.

3. Chaste Tree

This amazing plant grows in North America, Europe and the United States and is another highly popular women’s herb. By increasing progesterone levels in the latter half of a woman’s menstrual cycle, it can help treat irregular periods and normalize blood flow. Like many herbal supplements, more research is needed to fully understand this herb, but so far it is not associated with any serious side effectis.

4. Magnesium

Magnesium as a supplement seems only now to be coming into its own as modern medicine realizes how important it is to functions from mood stabilization to expansion of veins and arteries to stabilization of cells, all of which are important in the PMS phenomenon. In several different studies, it was found that magnesium supplementation helped relieve some of the more irritating PMS symtoms, such as bloating, depression and sore breasts.

5. Calcium

Mostly calcium is advocated by women’s health practitioners as a guard against osteoporosis. While this is certainly important, it is not so well known that calcium supplementation can also reduce the cramps, water weight gain and emotional lability that can accompany PMS and many researchers are beginning to suspect that there is a link between severe PMS symptoms and a calcium deficiency.

Hormones regulate all aspects of the body, in ways that some researchers are only just begining to appreciate. Use of these herbs and supplements can help restore hormonal balance and nourish a woman’s health both during her fertile years and during and after the onset of menopause.

New Medical Scan Requires Less Touching


A medical imaging technique uses electric and magnetic fields to generate vibrations in tissues and measure their mechanical stiffness in a new way.

A magnetic field combined with an electric current can jiggle biological tissues and reveal their squishiness, which can indicate the presence of a tumor or some other unhealthy state. In Physical Review Letters, a research team describes their demonstration of this imaging technique, for which they used both a tissue “dummy” and a sample of swine liver. Current techniques for measuring mechanical properties require a device like an ultrasound probe to touch the tissue and vibrate it, so the new system could allow imaging of less accessible samples or organs, such as the brain.

The Lorentz force determines the path of a charged particle as it moves through electric and magnetic fields. Biological cells are rich in charged particles, and medical physicists have exploited the force to measure the electrical conductivity of tissues. Applying a pulsed electric field to a sample immersed in a fixed magnetic field generates a mechanical vibration as the charges respond to the fields. By detecting the resulting compression waves, researchers can produce a kind of sonogram that turns out to provide a map of the conductivity. This image provides different information than one would get from typical medical scans, such as an MRI or CT, which mainly show density.

Changes in physical stiffness, or “elasticity,” provide another measure and can indicate disease, sometimes without accompanying changes in density, says Paul Barbone, a mechanical engineer at Boston University. “Stiff lumps in a breast may or may not show up on x rays or MRIs or ultrasounds, but we can sometimes know they are there because we can feel them.”

One technique to measure such altered stiffness uses lower frequencies that allow so-called shear waves to propagate, in addition to compression waves. In a shear wave, the displacement is perpendicular to the direction of propagation—as when a crowd does “the wave” in a stadium—and the speed indicates stiffness. However, these systems require a device to send vibrations into the tissues, which can be difficult to control or unpleasant for hard-to-reach areas. For example, to scan the brain, the patient has to bite down on a vibrating bar, which Barbone calls the “shake my bones and rattle my brain” technique.

Stefan Catheline and his colleagues at the University of Lyon in France thought that the Lorentz force could generate the vibrations without needing to touch the tissue, as in the technique for measuring conductivity. The team used a 4×8×8 cubic centimeter block of a gelatinous material as a biological tissue mimic. They applied electric and magnetic fields in three different configurations to show that they could generate and detect shear waves. In each case, the magnetic field was steady, and the electric field was a short pulse—a single cycle of a 100-hertz sine wave, applied through a pair of electrodes touching the material. The team detected the vibrations with an ultrasound probe (an MRI could be used in the future) and then created movies of the shear waves, which agreed with their computer simulations.

Running a similar experiment on a cubic sample from a pig’s liver showed that they could produce and detect shear waves in real animal tissue. The team calculated a shear stiffness value that agreed with past measurements of the livers of healthy human subjects.

Team member Pol Grasland-Mongrain cautions that the researchers still haven’t proven that the system will work in inaccessible human tissues. Their next step will be to induce the electric field with a changing magnetic field (separate from the fixed field), rather than with electrodes that touch the tissue, in an attempt to make the system completely remote.

Barbone says that this technique would “see” stiffness in a new way. Or as he likes to joke, “Let’s see how you feel.”

Why Do Blood Types Differ?


Perhaps you know your own blood type, and perhaps you know those types with which you’re compatible to give to and receive from. You might also sense that there’s more to blood than a mere mark on your medical records.

Blood consists of red and white blood cells, platelets and plasma (the goop in which everything sits). Antigens and various proteins float in the plasma and on red blood cells. An antigen is any substance that causes the immune system to produce antibodies — certain proteins — to fight it off.

The ABO grouping system refers to the genetically-determined individual differences in the presence of two antigens (A and B), which stimulate the production of different antibodies. Type-O blood has both the antibodies produced in type-A and type-B, whereas type-AB has neither.

 

“Polymorphism” describes a stable coexistence of different genetic forms within a species, and the reason for blood group polymorphism is not known.

In 2004 researchers from University College London proposed that the presence of certain bacteria and intracellular viruses may have put evolutionary pressure on certain antigen-producing genetic mutations. In populations where viruses prevailed, gene O dominated. Those with bacteria-heavy environments found themselves more likely to have A or B type.

This theory does not explain why blood types don’t evolve with constantly mutating viruses and bacteria strains. But it is clear that some manner of environmental pressure is a factor in blood group polymorphism.

The major blood groups were not figured out until the early 1900s, and before then blood transfusions sometimes turned mysteriously fatal because the different blood groups are incompatible. In 1940, experiments on Rhesus monkeys revealed an additional antigen factors now known as positive or negative “Rh factors.” This led to the nomenclature “O positive” or “AB negative.” Since then, hundreds of other less-significant antigen differences have been identified, most of which do not lead to transfusion problems.

FDA Warns Against Powdered Caffine .


The agency issued a statement Friday recommending that consumers avoid the potent powders

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Friday about the dangers of pure powdered caffeine after the death of a teenager in Ohio in May.

A mere teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine, the FDA said, is equivalent to 25 cups of coffee and can be lethal. “Pure caffeine is a powerful stimulant and very small amounts may cause accidental overdose. Parents should be aware that these products may be attractive to young people,” the agent noted. The substance can be easily purchased online.

Taking too much of the drug can result in heartbeat disruptions, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea and disorientation. “These symptoms are likely to be much more severe than those resulting from drinking too much coffee, tea or other caffeinated beverages,” according to the statement.

The announcement comes almost two months after Logan Steiner, 18, of LeGrange, Ohio, died after overdosing on powdered caffeine on May 27.

How was Einstein’s Brain Different? | Spirit Science


http://thespiritscience.net/2014/04/29/how-was-einsteins-brain-different/

From the desk of Zedie.

Antipsychotic drugs linked to slight decrease in brain volume


    A study published today has confirmed a link between antipsychotic medication and a slight, but measureable, decrease in brain volume in patients with schizophrenia. For the first time, researchers have been able to examine whether this decrease is harmful for patients’ cognitive function and symptoms, and noted that over a nine year follow-up, this decrease did not appear to have any effect.

As we age, our brains naturally lose some of their volume – in other words, and connections. This process, known as , typically begins in our thirties and continues into old age. Researchers have known for some time that patients with schizophrenia lose at a faster rate than healthy individuals, though the reason why is unclear.

Now, in a study published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, a team of researchers from the University of Oulu, Finland, and the University of Cambridge has identified the rate of decrease in both healthy individuals and patients with schizophrenia. They also documented where in the brain schizophrenia patients have more atrophy, and have examined links between atrophy and antipsychotic medication.

By comparing of 33 patients with schizophrenia with 71 over a period of 9 years – from age 34 to 43 – the researchers were able to show that schizophrenia patients lost brain volume at a rate of 0.7% each year. The control participants lost brain volume at a rate of 0.5% per year.

Scientists have previously speculated that antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia may be linked to this decrease in brain volume. Today’s research confirms this association, showing that the rate of decrease in volume was greater when the dose of medication was higher. However, the mechanisms behind this – and whether it was in fact the medication that was causing this greater loss of tissue – are not clear. Some researchers have previously argued that whilst older might cause brain volume decreases, newer antipsychotic medications may protect against these decreases. However, today’s research suggests that both classes of antipsychotic medication are associated with similar declines in brain volume.

The researchers also looked at whether there was any link between the volume of brain lost and the severity of symptoms or loss of cognitive function, but found no effect.

Professor Juha Veijola from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oulu, Finland says: “We all lose some brain tissue as we get older, but people with schizophrenia lose it at a faster rate. We’ve shown that this loss seems to be linked to the antipsychotic medication people are taking. Research like this where patients are studied for many years can help to develop guidelines about when clinicians can reduce the dosage of antipsychotic medication in the long term treatment of people with .”

“It’s important to stress that the loss of brain volume doesn’t appear to have any effect on people over the nine year follow-up we conducted, and patients should not stop their medication on the basis of this research, ” adds Dr Graham Murray from the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute and the Department of Psychiatry at University of Cambridge. “A key question in future will be to examine whether there is any effect of this loss of brain volume later in life. We need more research in larger studies with longer follow-ups to evaluate the significance of these brain changes.”

Pregnancy Incidence and Outcomes Among Women Receiving Preexposure Prophylaxis for HIV PreventionA Randomized Clinical Trial.


Importance  Antiretroviral preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), using tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) and combination emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (FTC+TDF), is efficacious for prevention of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition. PrEP could reduce periconception HIV risk, but the effect on pregnancy outcomes is not well defined.

Objective  To assess pregnancy incidence and outcomes among women using PrEP during the periconception period.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Randomized trial among 1785 HIV-serodiscordant heterosexual couples (the Partners PrEP Study) in which the female partner was HIV uninfected that demonstrated that PrEP was efficacious for HIV prevention, conducted between July 2008 and June 2013 at 9 sites in Kenya and Uganda.

Interventions  Daily oral TDF (n = 598), combination FTC+TDF (n = 566), or placebo (n = 621) through July 2011, when PrEP demonstrated efficacy for HIV prevention. Thereafter, participants continued receiving active PrEP without placebo. Pregnancy testing occurred monthly and study medication was discontinued when pregnancy was detected.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Pregnancy incidence, birth outcomes (live births, pregnancy loss, preterm birth, congenital anomalies), and infant growth.

Results  A total of 431 pregnancies occurred. Pregnancy incidence was 10.0 per 100 person-years among women assigned placebo, 11.9 among those assigned TDF (incidence difference, 1.9; 95% CI, −1.1 to 4.9 [P = .22 vs placebo]), and 8.8 among those assigned FTC+TDF (incidence difference, −1.3; 95% CI, −4.1 to 1.5 [P  = .39 vs placebo]). Before discontinuation of the placebo treatment group in July 2011, the occurrence of pregnancy loss (96 of 288 pregnancies) was 42.5% for women receiving FTC+TDF compared with 32.3% for those receiving placebo (difference for FTC+TDF vs placebo, 10.2%; 95% CI, −5.3% to 25.7%; P = .16) and was 27.7% for those receiving TDF alone (difference vs placebo, −4.6%; 95% CI, −18.1% to 8.9%; P  = .46). After July 2011, the frequency of pregnancy loss (52 of 143 pregnancies) was 37.5% for FTC+TDF and 36.7% for TDF alone (difference, 0.8%; 95% CI, −16.8% to 18.5%; P = .92). Occurrence of preterm birth, congenital anomalies, and growth throughout the first year of life did not differ significantly for infants born to women who received PrEP vs placebo.

Conclusions and Relevance  Among HIV-serodiscordant heterosexual African couples, differences in pregnancy incidence, birth outcomes, and infant growth were not statistically different for women receiving PrEP with TDF alone or combination FTC+TDF compared with placebo at conception. Given that PrEP was discontinued when pregnancy was detected and that CIs for the birth outcomes were wide, definitive statements about the safety of PrEP in the periconception period cannot be made. These results should be discussed with HIV-uninfected women receiving PrEP who are considering becoming pregnant.

 

The Obesity Paradox: Sometimes Being Overweight Is Actually Healthier For You


Ever since Americans started plumping to record rates of obesity, doctors have been crusading against fatty drinks and foods to tame an epidemic in the making. But there’s something cardiologists seldom talk about that has baffled research doctors for years: In the face of illness, being fatter adds years to people’s lives.

On Wednesday, scientists published two reports in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings announcing new clues in the mystery known as the obesity paradox. Being fat can cause all kinds of nasty problems, from heart disease to diabetes. But study after study has found that being overweight is like a shield against death when those diseases set in. As one study author put it, obesity is like a bad friend who gets you sentenced to jail, “but once imprisoned the friend remains loyal and protects you against poor prison conditions and other inmates.”

In a first paper, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 36 studies, searching for instances of patients undergoing surgery to open up blocked arteries. Obesity frequently leads to coronary artery disease, but thin people can be at risk, too. They reviewed “tens of thousands” of cases and discovered obese and severely obese people had higher survival rates post-surgery than normal weight people. (They were around 25 percent less likely to die.)

It wasn’t the first major review of the literature. One study published last year analyzed three million sick people around the world. Their results were bewildering: “For people with a medical condition, survival is slightly better for people who are slightly heavier.” Yet the cause still eludes scientists.

“At this stage we can only speculate on the reasons for this paradox,” said lead author Abhishek Sharma, of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, in a press release. Maybe doctors are more likely to give overweight patients more drugs, he says. Or maybe they have a higher metabolic reserve. Or maybe skinny people have bad genes. Who knows?

The second paper, however, offers more insight. It attempts to chip away at a nagging question among the people studying the obesity paradox: Is body mass index, or BMI, the right way to measure obesity? Many believe other measures, like the ratio of fat to lean mass, may have more to do with the phenomenon than BMI, which is based on height and weight.

“Body composition plays a critical role in the obesity paradox,” said Carl Lavie, a cardiologist at the University of Queensland School of Medicine in New Orleans and a co-author of both papers. He and his colleagues examined something called the lean mass index — the proportion of human stuff, like muscle and bone, that isn’t body fat — among 48,000 patients.

Their findings yield more evidence for what many have suspected. “At higher BMI, body fat is associated with an increase in mortality,” Lavie said. In other words, the fat isn’t the elixir; being big is. “Whenever examining a potential protective effect of body fat, lean mass index — which likely represents larger skeletal muscle mass — should be considered,” Lavie said.

This is a good lesson. With nearly one in 14 Americans now considered extremely obese, the authors of the two studies were quick to caution that being overweight in the first place is still dangerous. In fact, these papers came on the heels of another that found extreme obesity kills about as effectively as smoking does.

Sources: A. Sharma, A. Vallakati, A. J. Einstein, C. J. Lavie, et al. Relationship of Body Mass Index With Total Mortality, Cardiovascular Mortality, and Myocardial Infarction After Coronary Revascularization: Evidence From a Meta-analysis. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2014.

A. De Schutter, C. J. Lavie, et al. Body Composition and Mortality in a Large Cohort With Preserved Ejection Fraction: Untangling the Obesity Paradox. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2014.

Not My Pill: Appearance Key to Compliance


Post-myocardial infarction patients are 30% more likely to discontinue generic cardiovascular medications if their pills change in color or shape, researchers reported.

The medications included beta-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin II-receptor blockers, and statins.

More than one quarter of patients who started one of these drugs within 90 days of hospital discharge for myocardial infarction had a change in shape or color unrelated to a change in dose in the first year, wrote Aaron Kesselheim, MD, and colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass., in a study published in the July 14 Annals of Internal Medicine.

The findings have implications for both individual healthcare providers and for policy.

“Patients know their medications as the little blue pill, or the diamond one,” Niteesh Choudhry, MD, a study co-author and internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told MedPage Today.

But physicians often do not consider that generic drugs change in appearance or that the changes may affect how patients take pills, he added. Physicians and pharmacists can educate patients not to discontinue drugs that are biologically the same.

The findings may also change how the FDA regulates generic medications.

Currently, the FDA does not interfere with the visual appearance of drugs, which are a form of intellectual property. However, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that if the color of a medical pill served a specific function, then competitors were allowed to copy it.

By demonstrating that pill appearance is clinically relevant, the study’s authors hope that the FDA could require new generic applicants to conform pill aesthetics to the brand-name reference drug.

The authors looked at 11,513 patients discharged after hospitalization for myocardial infarction between 2006 and 2011 who initiated treatment with a generic beta-blocker, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, angiotensin II-receptor blocker, or statin. Researchers followed the patients’ refill habits for one year.

Case patients discontinued a medication for at least one month, and control patients continued the medication. The patients were matched on class of medication, number of dispensings before nonpersistence, sex, and age.

Researchers then evaluated the two refills preceding nonpersistence to see whether pill color or shape had changed. Appearance changes related to variations in dosage were excluded.

More than third of patients discontinued use of a medication (3,666 case patients, 6,519 control patients). Case and control groups had similar rates of coexisting illnesses, medication use before hospitalization, and healthcare utilization.

More than one quarter (28.5%) of patients had a change in pill color or shape unrelated to change in dose.

The odds ratio for nonpersistence after a change in color or shape was 1.49 (CI, 1.30-1.71) after adjusting for age, year, combined comorbidity score, revascularization procedure during the index hospitalization, number of drugs received before the index hospitalization, and prior use of non-index study drugs.

Case patients had a 34% increase in the odds of discordance in pill color preceding an episode of nonpersistence (adjusted OR 1.34, CI 1.12-1.59) and a 66% increase in the odds of nonpersistence after a change in shape (adjusted OR 1.67, CI 1.43-1.94).

Further adjusting the odds ratios for pharmacy changes or use of a mail-order pharmacy did not change the statistically significant associations with nonpersistence except for color alone.

Clinical outcomes were not measured in this study, the authors noted.

The findings are similar to those in a previous study conducted by Kesselheim and colleagues, which showed that changes in pill color among antiepileptic drugs were associated with a nearly 30% increased odds of nonpersistent use of medication.

Post-myocardial infarction patients are a larger chronic disease population than epilepsy patients, which makes the findings more generalizable, Kesselheim told MedPage Today.

Still, the group is somewhat homogenous in age (mean 57.7 years) and gender (72.1% male), and nearly all had commercial insurance (99.6%).

Relevant population demographics such as socioeconomic status and functional or cognitive disability were not included, since patient characteristics were gathered by insurance claims data.

Sounding a note of caution, Eiman Jahangir, MD, a cardiologist at Ochsner Clinical Center in New Orleans, La., told MedPage Today, that the study did not address reasons for medication discontinuation, such as side effects or difficulty obtaining the drug,

The findings underscore the importance of medication reconciliation at every office visit, Jahangir said. Physicians should continue to tell patients to look at the labels rather than relying on a pill’s appearance, he added.

Action Points

  • Post-myocardial infarction patients are 30% more likely to discontinue generic cardiovascular medications if their pills change in color or shape.
  • Note that the findings may also change how the FDA regulates generic medications, since currently the FDA does not interfere with the visual appearance of drugs.
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