Manufacturer Halts Production of Blood Thinner – Issue 44

Dear Health-Conscious Friend,

You’ve probably heard a lot of disturbing reports of food and drug recalls lately. In this week’s news we have yet another drug being pulled from the market amid reports of possible adverse reactions, and a big pharmaceutical company scrambling to contain liability.

Unfortunately, the recall comes AFTER reports linking the drug with illness and deaths.

It should make you think twice about medications the U.S. Food and Drug Administration labels as “safe” for consumption!

My family and I have come to trust more natural and simple remedies to address our health concerns. And I’m committed to sharing these safe, natural solutions with you.

In today’s Monday Edition of Health News Weekly™, I’ll tell you about simple ways to help avoid gout and lower cholesterol naturally.

So if you’re ready to discover more natural tips for healthy living, let’s get started…

Halts Production of Blood Thinner on Reports of Allergic Reactions and DEATHS!

Layne Lowery

A leading producer of the blood thinner heparin sold in the United States said it will temporarily suspend production of its multi-dose injectable form of the drug. This action follows reports of serious allergic reactions—and possibly four patient deaths.

Baxter HealthCare Corporation said they have yet to determine the cause of the allergic reactions. Halting heparin production could lead to a serious product shortage. Doctors commonly use heparin to prevent blood clots in patients undergoing kidney dialysis and heart surgery.

Since the end of December 2007, there have been about 350 reports of adverse reactions associated with Baxter’s heparin product. This includes difficulty breathing, nausea or vomiting, excessive sweating and falling blood pressure, which can lead to life-threatening shock.

According to a Health Day report, these figures compare with fewer than 100 such reports in all of 2007. Dr. John Jenkins, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Office of New Drugs at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, reported these figures during a February 11, 2008 teleconference.

Most of the reactions have taken place at hemodialysis centers. They typically involve patients who received high doses of the medication over a short period of time, the FDA said.

These reactions have been seen with as few as several thousand units per milliliter of heparin, and as much as 50,000 units per milliliter, Jenkins said.

Regarding the four reported deaths, the FDA says it is not possible to establish a relationship between the deaths and the use of heparin at this time.

Most of the reactions occurred in patients receiving high doses of heparin before dialysis or heart surgery. The problem was first reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

The group observed several cases in one pediatric hospital starting in November, the FDA said.

The CDC alerted the FDA and Baxter—which started a voluntary recall of the affected lots of heparin on January 17.

However, medical professionals have noted adverse reactions in other lots of Baxter’s multi-dose heparin since that time. This led to Baxter’s decision to suspend production of the product.

Jenkins said a product recall would cause “an immediate and severe shortage of this medically necessary drug. FDA has concluded that it is better for the public health to allow the Baxter multiple dose vials of heparin to remain in distribution.”

Until officials can identify the cause of the adverse, the FDA is advising doctors to give large doses of heparin intravenously. Doctors should also give the lowest dose at the slowest infusion rate possible.

The agency is advising doctors to monitor patients closely for any sign of adverse events, Jenkins said.

Stimulation Jolts Long-Lost Memories!

Roz Roscoe, Staff Writer

A treatment involving electrical stimulation of targeted brain areas is providing an unexpected boost to some patients’ memories. In once case a 50-year old man using the treatment for another condition reported a vivid memory from 30 years earlier!

The process called deep brain stimulation (DBS) is used to treat Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. But according to findings of a recent Canadian study, researchers are also optimistic about using it to help improve memory.

Researchers are studying its potential as treatment for a number of other conditions—including cluster headaches and aggressive behavior.

A team at Toronto Western Hospital was testing DBS as a potential appetite suppressant in a morbidly obese 50-year-old man.

When researchers stimulated implanted electrodes to identify potential appetite suppressant sites—the patient reported a vivid memory of being in a park with friends when he was about 20 years old.

As the researchers increased the electrical stimulation, the memory became more vivid. Researchers repeated the test in a double-blinded setting—and the heightened memory recall occurred again.

The electrodes that proved most effective at provoking memories were located close to the fornix. This bundle of fibers carries signals in the part of your brain involved in memory and emotions.

Electrical stimulation also boosted activity in the temporal lobe and hippocampus—two important components of your brain’s memory circuit.

The Toronto researchers also found that three weeks of continuous stimulation of the hypothalamus led to significant improvements in the patient’s results on two learning tests. He also improved at remembering unrelated paired objects during stimulation.

The study authors concluded that applying electrical stimulation may be an effective method for boosting memory function. It could also help them gain a better understanding of how the brain processes and recalls memories.

The study was published online in the journal Annals of Neurology.

Fast Fact

Recent scientific research shows magnesium may play a significant role in regulating blood pressure and boosting brain function. So why not add magnesium to your list of “must have” daily nutrients? It can help keep your heart beating longer—and even make your brain stronger!

Sugary Soft Drinks Boost Men’s Gout Risk

Haley Whiten, Contributing Editor

Just drink two or more sugary soft drinks each day—and you can boost your chances of painful gout in your joints by 85%!

This conclusion comes from findings of a 12-year study published in February 2008 by BMJ Online First (produced by the British Medical Association). The research team said consuming sugar-sweetened soft drinks and fructose is linked with increased risk of gout in men.

Gout is a joint disease caused by excess uric acid in your blood. The buildup of these uric acid crystals in your joints causes extreme pain and swelling.

Cases of gout—a disease most commonly occurring in men—have doubled in the United States over the past few decades.

More than 46,000 men, aged 40 and older with no history of gout participated in the study. A research team collected information on the men’s food and beverage intake at the start of the study.

They also recorded details about their weight, medication use and medical conditions every two years during the 12-year study.

During that time, researchers diagnosed 755 of the men as having gout. They found the risk was much higher in men who drank five to six servings of sugar-sweetened soft drinks per week.

The risk was 85 percent higher in those who drank two or more of the beverages a day—compared to those who had less than one serving per month.

The increased risk was independent of other gout risk factors such as body-mass index, age, diuretic use, high blood pressure, alcohol intake and dietary habits. Researchers said diet soft drinks did not increase gout risk.

The study also found that fruit juice and fructose-rich fruits such as apples and oranges were associated with increased gout risk. But the researchers said this higher risk of gout needs to be balanced against the many health benefits provided by fresh fruits and vegetables.

Health E-Hints

Policosanol—The “Bad” Cholesterol Bruiser!

Have you heard about the all-natural wonder that’s pinning statin drugs to the mat? Policosanol is a mixture of fatty alcohols derived from sugar cane wax. A number of controlled studies have shown that policosanol is an effective way to reduce high LDL (”bad”) cholesterol levels.

In addition to its cholesterol-lowering benefits, policosanol can also help to:

  • Improve lower leg pain in people with hardened leg arteries (intermittent claudication)
  • Act as a blood thinner to prevent harmful clots
  • Prevent chronic fatigue
  • Boost your energy levels
  • And much more!

If you’re concerned about lowering your blood cholesterol—and don’t want to mess around with statin drugs—you might consider policosanol as a safe and natural alternative!