When it Concerns Your Heart, Less May Be More – Issue 02

Dear Health-Conscious Friend,

If you’re concerned about your heart health, this week special Monday Edition of Health News Weekly™ may be a real life saver. Why?

Because you’ll discover why you may want to say NO to a
popular heart treatment. In fact, new research shows it may be completely unnecessary…

…And just in time for National Women’s Health Week—you’re about to discover a little known nasty side effect of hormone replacement therapy. In fact, if you’re concerned about your hearing, make sure to read about this breakthrough discovery…

…and speaking of “side effects”: If you’re taking a popular prostate remedy, don’t be surprised if you find a fine carpet of hair growing on your bald head. Amazing—but true—and it’s all in this week’s issue!

We’ve got lots to talk about, so let’s not waste another minute…

When it Comes to Heart Surgery…
Less May Be MORE!

Tonia Beverly, Contributing Editor

More than 1 million heart surgeries performed each year to unclog blocked arteries may be completely unnecessary, according to the findings of a new study to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The latest research indicates the popular procedure of inserting stents into blocked arteries—commonly called angioplasty—is no more effective at preventing chest pain and heart attacks than medicine and lifestyle changes.

The study is the first large comparison of angioplasty to non-surgical care for patients who are not having a heart attack… or in immediate danger of having one. Doctors presented results of their study at the American College of Cardiology’s 56th Annual Scientific Session in New Orleans.

The researchers said although angioplasty improves survival for a patient experiencing a heart attack or at very high risk for one—no studies have examined its superiority over and above optimal medical therapy (OMT).

OMT includes the use of medicines such as aspirin, statins and ACE inhibitors. It also includes lifestyle changes such as exercise, weight counseling and smoking cessation. All of the 2,287 patients enrolled in the study received OMT treatment. Only half of the participants received a combination of OMT and angioplasty.

Study results showed there was no statistically significant difference between heart attack rates in either group: 13.2% in the group combining stent surgery and OMT and 12.3% among patients who received OMT only.

Lead study investigator, Dr. William Boden of Buffalo General Hospital/Kaleida Health in Buffalo, New York said study results show that combining treatments is not necessarily more effective than medicine alone. Dr. Boden concluded that these and other study findings seem to indicate stent surgeries have no impact on reducing major cardiovascular events.

With a hefty price tag of about $50,000 per surgery… these findings are likely to cause quite a stir among heart doctors, patients AND the insurance companies that serve them!

Hormone Replacement Feels Heavenly—
Unless You Land in ‘Hearing-Loss Hell’

Roz Roscoe, Staff Writer

If you’re one of thousands of women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to deal with menopause mayhem—just wait ‘til you hear this.

A study led by Dr. Robert D. Frisina at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y. found that older women taking progestin—a synthetic form of progesterone—had hearing loss of 10 to 30 percent more than those who were not taking hormones or those who were using estrogen only.

The study findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined 124 women aged 60 to 86 who had received hormone treatment from five to 35 years. As reported by the Associated Press, the study compared the hearing of three groups of women. Thirty women took estrogen only; 32 took both estrogen and progestin; and 62 had never been on HRT. Each of the women took a variety of hearing tests.

In all the tests, women who took progestin had worse hearing than participants in the other groups. The women taking progestin had both inner ear problems as well as problems in the portions of the brain used for hearing. The research team plans to study women who have stopped using hormone replacement, to see if the hearing loss might be reversible.

With hearing loss as a possible side effect—you might wonder if the benefits of tackling menopause with hormone therapy outweigh the risks.

The Pros and Cons of Using Estrogen and Progestin

Menopause begins naturally when your ovaries start making less estrogen and progesterone. During your reproductive years, these hormones regulate your monthly cycles of ovulation and menstruation.

When your body begins the transition into menopause, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms including periods of sweating and hot flashes… vaginal itching, burning and dryness… and difficulty with urination.

Your body needs estrogen to help reduce these symptoms. It also helps prevent bone loss in menopausal women. Doctors often add progestin to the estrogen to reduce your risk of cancer when you still have your uterus. Despite the relief hormone therapies may provide—there are significant risks as well.

Among the list of possible side effects associated with hormone use, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) includes:

  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps or bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite and weight changes
  • Changes in sex drive or ability
  • Nervousness
  • Dark patches on skin<
  • Swollen hands, feet or lower legs
  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods
  • Breast tenderness, enlargement or discharge
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

As if that’s not bad enough—NIH also mentions hormone replacement therapy may increase your risk of heart attack… stroke… breast cancer, and blood clots in the lungs and legs!

Dr. Frisina suggests that medical establishments add hearing loss to the list of side effects associated with HRT use. This could be especially helpful to women who already may be experiencing some hearing loss—as well as those who want to make informed treatment decisions about hormone use.

If you’re uneasy about the possibility of experiencing hearing loss, Dr. Frisina recommends having your hearing tested before starting hormone replacement therapy—and every six months afterwards. If your hearing gets worse, you may want to have your doctor check the dosage—or even reconsider using progestin as part of your therapy.

Prostate Cancer Therapy May
Leave You ‘Short-Shafted’!

Layne Lowery

New study results show the combination of hormone therapy and radiation treatment for prostate cancer may lead to erectile dysfunction—and even significant penis shrinkage!

Study results published in the Journal of Urology report that men who received the combination therapy lost an average of 2 inches of penile length after 18 months of treatment. What’s more, about half the men who had normal erections before therapy were unable to sustain an erection firm enough for intercourse.

Researchers at the University of Ankara in Turkey studied 47 men with prostate cancer from 2000 to 2005. The men received an injection of either the hormone leuprolide or goserelin once every three months, for a total of three injections. Starting in month 7, participants received a standard 70 Gy (gray) dose of radiation therapy for seven weeks.

Before treatment began, the average stretched penis length was 5.6 inches. After 18 months of the combination hormone and radiation treatment—the average stretched penis length was only 3.4 inches!

The study authors said their research represents the first attempt to determine if penis length changes following prostate cancer treatments with hormone therapy and radiation.

The researchers urge doctors to warn patients about organ shrinkage as a possible side effect of this combination therapy.

Fast Fact

Did you know that drinking two glasses of Gatorade® can relieve headache pain almost immediately—without the unpleasant side effects caused by traditional “pain relievers”?

Health E-Hints

I Need More ZZZZZ’s Please!

The National Institutes of Health estimates that 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems. Try some of these helpful hints if restless nights are stealing your sweet dreams:

  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening. Caffeine and nicotine can delay your sleep, and alcohol may interrupt your sleep later in the night.
  • Exercise regularly—but do so at least three hours before bedtime. A workout closer to bedtime may keep you awake because your body has not had a chance to cool down.
  • If you have trouble sleeping at night, skip the daytime naps. Mid-day snoozing may stop you from resting well at night.
  • Make your sleep environment pleasant, comfortable, dark and quiet.
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine to help you unwind. It can also signal your brain that it’s time to sleep.
  • If you can’t go to sleep after 30 minutes, get up and involve yourself in a relaxing activity. Listen to soothing music or read until you feel sleepy.