Which FDA approved drugs may increase your risk of abnormal heart rhythms and bone fractures? -Issue 3

Dear Health-Conscious Friend,

There seems to be more bad news on the horizon for folks using two popular drugs. New study findings show one drug is linked to heart problems—while the other may cause bone weakening.

Is this the best the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has to offer—temporary relief with long-term suffering on its heels?

Read today’s Thursday Edition of Health News Weekly™ to discover the latest FDA drug fiasco. And you’ll also find information about more safe and effective health remedies you can use!

Consumers Face Continued Health Threats from Diabetes, Osteoporosis Drugs

Layne Lowery

New evidence suggests two blockbuster drugs may be linked to negative side effects that can harm your health.

One study examines the effects of thiazolidinediones, which is a class of diabetes drugs that includes Avandia® and Actos®. It has recently been reported that the drug may increase a patient’s risk of bone fractures.

Another study looked at the effects of the osteoporosis drug Fosamax®. The results showed an increase in the risk of experiencing abnormal heart rhythms!

The study results for both are included in the April 28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

An estimated 3.5 million, or more, U.S. patients take Avandia®. Some patients questioned its safety and effectiveness when a 2007 FDA ruling required manufacturers to include a “black box” warning on Avandia® packaging.

As reported in Health News Weekly™ on , the stronger warning label emphasized that the drug “may cause or worsen heart failure in certain patients.”

In the latest study, Dr. Christian Meier of University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, examined the links between thiazolidinediones and bone fracture. He hoped to find out whether only women were affected and where the fractures were most likely to occur.

For the study, 1,020 men and women ranging in age from 30 to 89 participated. All the test subjects had experienced a fracture while taking Avandia®, Actos® or a similar anti-diabetic drug.

Scientists found that individuals taking Avandia® or Actos® had more than double the risk of fractures. The most common location for drug-associated fractures occurred in the wrist and hip.

The research team found that both men and women were at risk. They noted the odds for fracture increased based on the dosage amount taken of the drug.

The odds of fracture also increased for those taking Avandia® or Actos® for at least 12 to 18 months. The odds of a fracture appeared to be the highest in the participants who had been taking the medication for two years or more.

Dr. Susan Heckbert of the University of Washington and Group Health in Seattle led the Fosamax® study. It included 719 women with abnormal heart rhythms—or atrial fibrillation—versus 966 control patients without atrial fibrillation.

Heckbert and her colleagues found that 6.5 percent of the women taking Fosamax® had abnormal heart rhythms compared to 4.1 percent of the women in the control group. The researchers estimated that the use of Fosamax® could account for 3 percent of new cases of atrial fibrillation in this group of women.

The study authors cautioned that doctors should carefully consider risks and benefits before prescribing the drugs.

Fast Fact

Many products contain extra salt—including condiments like mayonnaise. So, if you want to lower your salt intake, try substituting softened avocado for mayonnaise. Besides having fewer calories, it’s a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids!

Erectile Dysfunction May Predict Future
Heart Disaster

Tiffany Lowery

Diabetic men experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED) may suffer more than occasional bedroom disappointment. New study findings indicate that ED can be a strong predictor for cases of serious heart disease.

A study of 2,306 diabetic men with no symptoms of heart disease was conducted in Hong Kong. The researchers found that those with erectile dysfunction were 58 percent more likely to have a heart attack—or other major cardiac problem—during the next four years compared to those with “adequate sexual function,” according to a published news report.

In a second study, Italian doctors reported similar numbers after following 291 men with diabetes and early heart disease for four years. These doctors found those with erectile dysfunction were twice as likely to have major adverse events, including strokes.

There’s a link between male sexual failure and heart disease, involving the effect of diabetes on the nervous system and the blood vessels, said Dr. E. Scott Monrad, director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

According to a HealthDay report, Monrad said “obstruction of blood flow into the arteries reduces the pressure needed to achieve erection.”

Doctors have long been aware that erectile dysfunction shares many risk factors with coronary heart disease—such as high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes.

But according to Dr. Robert A. Kloner, a professor of medicine at the University of Southern California, “what is new here is that erectile dysfunction remained a significant risk factor for developing heart disease after controlling for other cardiovascular risk factors.”

Kloner wrote an accompanying editorial on the studies, which was published in the May 27 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Physicians should be proactive in discussing sexual performance with male patients, Monrad said. “This may prove to be a very sensitive marker for all the other things we measure for cardiovascular risk, an early and more sensitive measure if we could get over all our puritanic inhibitions.”

Health E-Hints

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