acute coronary syndrome

  1. New blood thinner boosts heart risk

    Talk about missing the point!

    Blood thinners are supposed to reduce the risk of the blood clots that can lead to a heart attack or stroke -- but a new drug that's intended to slash the risk of stroke can actually increase the odds of a heart attack.

    That's not a benefit -- that's trading one deadly risk for another.

    The drug, called dabigatran but sold under the brand name Pradaxa, is most commonly given to atrial fibrillation patients, who have a higher risk of stroke to begin with.

    It's also the first in a series of new blood thinners specifically aimed at preventing strokes -- but there were problems with it right out of the gate: Even in the studies used to get it approved, that heart risk kept popping up.

    Now, a new analysis shows this wasn't just a fluke, as the drug's maker no doubt hoped, but a genuine threat that should have anyone thinking twice before popping these pills.

    And get this: While the drug is supposed to slash the risk of stroke by a third, the new numbers show that it increases the risk of heart attack and acute coronary syndrome by pretty much the same amount -- nearly a third -- when compared to the older blood thinners as well as a placebo.

    That's not the only serious problem with Pradaxa. This drug hasn't been on the market very long, but the FDA is already looking into reports of serious bleeding problems (being the FDA, however, you can bet that "look" is all they'll do).

    I'm sure this sounds like a win for warfarin and the older generation of blood thinners, but warfarin itself is so dangerous it's actually been used for years as a rat poison -- and patients who take it need to be closely watched, lest they end up like those rats.

    Like all blood thinners, warfarin can also cause serious bleeding problems, not to mention swelling, bruising, flu-like symptoms and more. It's even been linked to gangrene.

    It's nuts to take those risks when there are completely natural options on the table -- including ordinary fish oil, safe for men and mice alike.

    Talk to your doc before making any changes, but a skilled naturopathic physician can wean you off risky meds and help you find the right amount of your safe alternative.

    And you can leave the warfarin in the garage for the rats.

  2. The fastest way to boost your health

    Close to 50 million Americans can dramatically reduce their death risk by making one simple change right now -- and it won't cost a cent. In fact, it'll save you thousands of dollars a year. Despite that fact, most people can't (or won't) make that one simple change.

    You may have guessed by now that I'm talking about smoking -- more specifically, quitting smoking.

    That might sound obvious to you -- but what's not as obvious is how quickly you could see those benefits.

    According to a recent study in the Lancet, quitting today could actually slash your risk of dying in just six months.

    Those benefits aren't just for the smokers. The researchers also found that the public bans on lighting up can also help protect entire communities in that same six-month window.

    In Scotland, for example, in the six months after a smoking ban took effect in 2006, there was a 17-percent drop in hospital admissions for acute coronary syndrome and a 6-percent drop in cardiac deaths outside of hospitals.

    Closer to home, a smoking ban in Helena, Montana, a few years back led to a 40-percent drop in admissions for acute coronary syndrome at one hospital within six months. Then, when that ban was suspended by a series of court cases, the
    numbers shot right back up.

    So the bottom line is that when people smoke, people die...and when they're forced to cut back, they live. And all it takes is six months.

    Since the benefits of dietary and lifestyle changes can take between one and three years to kick in, kicking butts is actually one of the fastest ways to boost your health.

    The latest numbers from Ohio point in the same direction. The state's health department says there was a 26-percent drop in ER visits for heart attacks after a public smoking ban took effect in 2007.

    And in 2009, U.S., Canadian, and European cities saw 17 percent fewer heart attacks in the year following a smoking ban, along with drops of between 26 percent and 36 percent over three years. (Read more here.)

    If all that inspires you to quit, be sure to do it without the help of antismoking meds. Those things can be even worse for you than smoking itself.

    The most commonly used med, Chantix, has been linked to violence, aggression, and suicide. In fact, one recent study found that the number of suicides among people who've taken it might be double what we've been led to believe.

    Chantix has even been found to up the odds of a heart attack.

    That's not how you save lives -- that's how you end them.

    Speaking of bad habits, keep reading for the latest numbers on soda.

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