19 Stories

Prescription-Drug Use Just Hit a Crazy New Peak

Obesity, better diagnoses, overprescribing could explain the jump

(Newser) - Americans are taking more prescription drugs than ever before, according to a new study that finds almost three in five take at least one medication. Researchers surveyed 38,000 adults aged 20 and older, then estimated that 59% of Americans took prescription drugs as of 2012, compared to 51% in... More »

2 New Cholesterol Drugs May Be Game-Changers

FDA advisory panel recommends both after 2 days of hearings

(Newser) - A new batch of cholesterol-lowering drugs could bring new hope to patients who can't take popular statins, or for those who don't feel their effects. Today, an FDA advisory committee recommended approval of Amgen's Repatha, reports AP , just one day after it gave the green light to... More »

For Better Sex, Lower Your Cholesterol

Researchers find men taking statins reported improved erectile function

(Newser) - Drop your cholesterol before dropping your pants, or so suggests a new study out of Rutgers University. Researchers there analyzed 11 studies on erectile dysfunction and statins, which are prescribed to lower cholesterol along with heart attack and stroke risk. What they found was that in addition to lowering those... More »

Big Problem With Last Week's Big Cholesterol News

The online risk calculator may significantly inflate risk

(Newser) - The changes to the way doctors prescribe cholesterol-lowering statins were described last week as "tectonic" and "profound"; today, the New York Times uses the phrase "major embarrassment." The issue: the online risk calculator introduced by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology to... More »

The New Guides on Statins Are Insane

Giving cholesterol drugs to healthy Americans is not the answer, 2 experts argue

(Newser) - The American Heart Association and the College of Cardiology want millions more healthy Americans to take cholesterol-lowering statins , which might sound like a good idea "if statins actually offered meaningful protection from heart disease; if they helped people live longer or better; and if they had minimal adverse side... More »

Big Shift: Forget Focus on Bad Cholesterol Levels

Two heart groups offer sweeping changes on use of statins

(Newser) - Two leading heart groups have announced changes being described as "tectonic" and "profound" in the way doctors prescribe cholesterol-lowering statins. The shift from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology means that doctors will no longer focus on a patent's level of "bad... More »

US Cholesterol Levels On the Decline

They're down 10 points in last two decades

(Newser) - Americans don't often get good news collectively when it comes to health, so enjoy: The nation's cholesterol levels show genuine long-range improvement. Federal researchers say that over the last two decades:
  • Total cholesterol levels dropped 10 points (206 to 196 mg/dL)
  • Bad cholesterol levels (LDL) dropped from 129
... More »

Pill Could Offer Seniors Years More to Live

But some experts call for more testing

(Newser) - A new one-a-day pill could offer 11 more years of life to 28% of people over 50, researchers say. The "polypill"—a combination of blood pressure-lowering and cholesterol-fighting drugs—could lower heart attack risk by 72% and stroke risk by 64%. On top of all that, it could... More »

Pfizer Hopes to Sell Lipitor Over the Counter

But FDA is leery about letting people use statins on their own

(Newser) - Pfizer hopes to sell an over-the-counter version of its popular cholesterol drug Lipitor, the Wall Street Journal reports. But first it will have to convince a skeptical FDA, which is wary about letting people use such statins without a doctor's supervision. Pfizer loses the patent on Lipitor in November,... More »

Drug May Cut Heart Attack Risk in Half

'Blockbuster' study could transform preventative care

(Newser) - A simple test and drug prescription can prevent hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes, researchers say. Announced today at an American Heart Association meeting in New Orleans, the study of almost 18,000 volunteers in 26 nations confirmed that inflammation leads to heart disease—and can be counteracted... More »

Combo Heart Pills Enter Trials in London

The cheap drugs could halve deaths from heart attack, stroke

(Newser) - Trials begin this week in London on a cheap "polypill" that could cut heart attack and stroke deaths in half worldwide, the Guardian reports. The pill combines four drugs—aspirin, a cholesterol-lowering statin, an ACE inhibitor, and thiazine to battle high blood pressure. The aim is to sell it—... More »

More Kids Take Grown-up Drugs in Obesity Fight

Critics say it's a poor substitute for good diet and exercise

(Newser) - Doctors are prescribing drugs to more and more children to treat conditions related to obesity, the New York Times reports. Data released by pharmacy plans show that medication for Type 2 diabetes has seen the biggest increase—151% from 2001 to last year. And this month, a pediatricians group recommended... More »

Docs Push Cholesterol Tests for Kids

New rules advise testing as young as 2, treating with statins at 8

(Newser) - With 30% of US children overweight, pediatricians are now recommending cholesterol screenings for kids as young as 2, and the use of cholesterol-fighting drugs in youngsters 8 and up, in order to stave off diabetes and early heart attacks. Some 30%-60% of children with high cholesterol aren’t being treated,... More »

Russert's Death Grim Reminder of Heart Risks

Sudden cardiac incidents difficult to prevent, survive

(Newser) - The heart attack that claimed Tim Russert’s life yesterday was a textbook example of a one of modern medicine's blind spots. Roughly 300,000 Americans die of unexpected, out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year, the Wall Street Journal reports. Doctors can predict the likelihood of an incident happening in the... More »

Chinese Remedy Could Cut Cholesterol

Red yeast rice extract is rich in active agent in statin drugs

(Newser) - A Chinese supplement could help lower cholesterol in patients unable to tolerate statin drugs, ABC News reports. Extract of red yeast rice, a form of fermented rice that has been used in China for many centuries in medicine and food, is naturally rich in the active ingredient in the drugs.... More »

Battle Brews in Pharma's Market

Pfizer launches attack on generic drug that threatens Lipitor's dominance

(Newser) - Pfizer is trying to stave off its own heart attack now that its flagship cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor faces stiff competition from a cheaper generic. Lipitor is still patent-protected, but a very similar drug called Zocor isn't, and since a generic version called simvastatin hit the market, many doctors and insurers... More »

Heart Meds May Work Against Alzheimer's

Anti-cholesterol drugs appear to combat brain disease

(Newser) - The best medicine for Alzheimer's disease may be a heart drug, researchers say, and the discovery may shed light on the way the devastating disorder acts on the brain. Subjects taking popular statin-based cholesterol meds developed fewer protein deposits in their brains, reports Time, possibly confirming suspicions that Alzheimer’s... More »

British Doc Prescribes Statins to All Men Over 50

Mass anti-cholesterol dosing proposed

(Newser) - All men aged 50 and over should forestall heart disease with daily doses of cholesterol-reducing statins,  a leading health figure in British government has proposed. The so-called “heart czar” acknowledged he might provoke “nanny state” accusations, but said the process of identifying at-risk men is  too cumbersome,... More »

Cholesterol Drop May Boost Cancer Risk

Study doesn't prove cause-and-effect relationship, docs say

(Newser) - Artificially reducing cholesterol to very low levels may slightly increase the risk of cancer, but that doesn't mean heart patients should go off their meds. One extra cancer case occurred in each 1,000 patients using statin drugs in an analysis of 23 different trials, Reuters reports; researchers hastened to... More »

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