Sunday, December 30, 2012
Medwire (12/28, Albert) reports, "Food labels that translate the number of calories in a meal into the amount of miles a person would have to walk to burn off those calories may be the most effective for reducing calorie intake," according to a study published online in the journal Appetite. For the study, researchers "recruited 802 participants (mean age 43-45 years; 88% female) and asked them to select food from sample fast-food menus as part of a web-based survey to assess the impact of physical activity information on food labels on food selection by consumers." The study authors found that participants "in the group given calorie information plus number of minutes walking needed to burn those calories ordered food with an average calorie content of 916 calories and participants given calorie content plus miles walking needed to burn the calories ordered food containing 826 calories on average."
An announcement from Merck that its medication Tredaptive (niacin/laropiprant) performed poorly in a trial received moderate coverage in print and online and was featured on one of last night's network news broadcasts. Most sources pointed out that the findings seem to challenge the theory that increasing HDL cholesterol will benefit patients, and that niacin, a component of the medication in question, should be used for this purpose.
The CBS Evening News (12/20, story 7, 2:05, Pelley) reported, "The drugmaker Merck said today a drug" called Tredaptive "that was thought to help prevent heart attacks has serious problems and Merck is now warning doctors overseas to stop prescribing it."
On the front of its Business Day section, the New York Times (12/21, B1, Thomas, Subscription Publication) reports that "Merck announced" that the drug "failed to protect against heart attacks and strokes in a large clinical trial, and that the company would no longer pursue approval of the combination drug in the United States." The study, "which followed more than 25,000 patients over four years, also found a statistically significant increase in the number of patients who suffered serious harm, although the company said those adverse events were not fatal."
The Wall Street Journal (12/21, B3, Weaver, Subscription Publication) reports that the medication, while not available in the US, is sold in approximately 40 countries.
The AP (12/21) reports, "The Food and Drug Administration rejected Tredaptive in 2008 pending more information about the drug's effects on the heart."
Reuters (12/21) reports that a European Medicines Agency spokesman said that EMA experts were looking into the most recent data on the medication and that the agency would issue a statement by week's end.
On its website, CBS News (12/21) reports that Merck "recommended that no new patients start taking the drug, but stopped short of saying current patients should come off it."
Bloomberg News (12/21, Cortez, Armstrong) reports, "The findings call into question the benefits of raising good cholesterol, one of the main methods pharmaceutical companies...are pursuing in their efforts to develop heart drugs."
Forbes (12/20) reports, "Although niacin, a natural vitamin, has been used for decades to raise HDL, a clinical benefit has never been demonstrated." Last year, "the NIH's AIM-HIGH trial found no benefit for extended-release niacin." The NPR (12/20, Knox) "Shots" blog and Heartwire (12/21, O'Riordan) also cover the story.
HealthDay (12/21, Gordon) reports, "New guidelines issued by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Thursday may reduce the number of people who need to take blood pressure medications, and they may help more people get insurance coverage for testing their blood sugar levels." The guidelines, which will appear in print in the January issue of the journal Diabetes Care, "recommend focusing on a person's needs and treatment goals when determining how often to check blood sugar levels." The guidelines also lower "the bar for its systolic blood pressure goal -- going from less than 130 millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) to less than 140 mm/Hg."
Whole Grains Associated With Lower Risk For Prediabetes. Reuters (12/21, Stokes) reports that according to a 5,477-participant study published online Dec. 12 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the consumption of whole grains appears to be tied to a lower likelihood of developing prediabetes. The association is particularly strong in men. The amount of whole grains needed appears to be above 59 grams daily. In the US, however, the average daily consumption of whole grains is in the 15 gram range, and only 3% of Americans eat at least 48 grams of whole grains per day.
Reuters (12/19, Pittman) reports that according to a 4,503-patient study published Dec. 19 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one in nine people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) may return to having normal blood sugar levels after following a strict program of exercise and diet for a year. An accompanying editorial pointed out that lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise may help lower the risk for long-term health problems.
HealthDay (12/19, Gordon) points out, however, that "less than two percent of the people who tried" the intervention "were able to achieve a complete remission, and if they don't maintain the changes, it's likely that their diabetes will quickly return."
Modern Healthcare (12/17, Kutscher, Subscription Publication) reports, "Dialysis and kidney-care providers are taking issue with a Government Accountability Office report released this month that found the government may be over-paying for end-stage renal disease treatment. The report [pdf] called on the CMS to re-examine the amount it's paying for dialysis care, arguing that the agency bases its bundled payment rates on five-year-old drug utilization trends that are no longer current." The report "added that if the payments accurately reflected current prescribing trends for end-stage renal disease, Medicare would have saved at least $650 million in 2011, up to as much as $880 million -- and that those savings are only forecasted to grow." Modern Healthcare adds, "Dr. Thomas Hostetter, chairman of the public policy board at the American Society of Nephrology, noted that he agreed with the 'raw findings' of the report concerning decreased utilization. But, he noted, 'I think the biggest concern is that this is such a widely fluctuating area right now.'"
HealthDay (12/13, Gordon) reports that a new report from the American Heart Association that warns "cardiovascular disease -- including heart disease and stroke -- still causes the death of one American every 40 seconds. The report," published in the journal Circulation, "emphasizes that two big factors stand in the way of improving US heart health: poor eating habits and a lack of physical activity." Although the AHA "previously set a goal of reducing heart disease and stroke deaths by 20 percent by 2020," if the current trends continue, America's heart health "may only improve by six percent by 2020, according to the report."
Heartwire (12/13, O'Riordan) notes that AHA report estimates that the "total direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular disease and stroke are more than $310 billion in the US. Although the relative rate of deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease declined from 1999 to 2009, cardiovascular disease still accounts for one in every three US deaths."
Fainting May Be First Sign Of Heart Trouble. HealthDay (12/13, Gray) reports that according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, first-time fainters "were 74 percent more likely to eventually be admitted to the hospital for heart attack or stroke and five times more likely to need a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator at some point in the future." The study "suggests that fainting in seemingly healthy people may be a first symptom of a more severe underlying cardiovascular disease, the researchers found."
Forbes (12/11, Husten) reports that a new study "from the Nurses' Health Study" published online Dec. 11 in Circulation: Arrhythmia & Electrophysiology, an American Heart Association journal, "provides new clarity about the relationship between smoking" and sudden cardiac death (SCD). Lead investigator Roopinder Sandhu and colleagues examined data from over 100,000 women who had no known cancer or cardiovascular disease. The article details that "during 30 years of followup there were 351 incident SCDs." Forbes adds that "compared to women who never smoked, the risk of SCD was significantly elevated in current smokers (relative risk 2.44) and former smokers (RR 1.40)."
HealthDay (12/12, Doheny) reports that the study suggests that "women who are light or moderate cigarette smokers -- lighting up as little as once a day -- still have an increased risk of sudden cardiac death." Lead researcher Dr. Roopinder Sandhu stated, "In our study we found small-to-moderate quantities, one to 14 cigarettes per day, were associated with almost a twofold higher risk of sudden cardiac death compared to women who never smoked." Further, the researchers found that "those who smoked 25 or more a day had more than triple the risk of sudden cardiac death."
Heartwire (12/12, Nainggolan) reports that "with respect to the total number of years smoking, Sandhu notes that 'every five years of continued smoking was associated with an almost 10% increase in SCD.'" Further, Dr. Sandhu adds that "importantly, SCD risk reduced over time with smoking cessation, equaling that of a never smoker after 20 years." She observes, "These are data supporting the fact that smoking cessation is an important modifiable risk factor and that women shouldn't wait until they develop heart disease to quit."
MedPage Today (12/12, Neale) reports that the study team "acknowledged some limitations of the study, including possible misclassification of cigarette consumption based on self-report, possible error in determining sudden cardiac death, the lack of information about the severity of coronary heart disease events during follow-up, and potential residual or unmeasured confounding." Additionally, the article notes that "the study population was mostly white, female nurses, and the findings may not apply to other groups." MedPage Today mentions that "the study was supported by research grants from the NIH and an Established Investigator Award from the American Heart Association to one of the authors." Also covering the story are BBC News (12/12, Roberts),WebMD (12/12, Warner), and the Daily Mail (UK) (12/12, Hope).