congestive heart failure

  1. Actos risks highlighted in lawsuit over diabetes drug

    When the diabetes drug Avandia was pulled from the market due to its heart risk, docs rushed to switch their patients over to the supposedly safer rival drug Actos.

    I say "supposedly" because I didn't buy it myself. There are just too many studies out there that show Actos to be every bit as bad as Avandia, if not worse.

    Now, a new lawsuit shows what I feared -- that docs who switched their patients from one to the other may have been sending them out of the frying pan and into the fryer.

    Dr. Helen Ge, a former safety consultant and medical reviewer for Takeda Pharmaceuticals -- maker of Actos -- alleges that the company routinely downgraded her assessments of congestive heart failure linked to the drug from "serious" to "non-serious."

    As a result, she says hundreds of cases of congestive heart failure were incorrectly reported.

    The semantics game didn't end there. Dr. Ge says her supervisors ordered her to change cases she had determined were related to the drug to "unrelated."

    So we go from serious and related events… to non-serious and unrelated ones. And yes, that makes a huge difference in how the government treats that information.

    That's assuming they even get the information at all. In addition to all that other monkey business, Dr. Ge says a company database lists 100 cases of bladder cancer linked to Actos -- but only 72 were reported to the FDS.

    The company denies all this, of course. And Ge's lawsuit, if it succeeds, has the potential to make her very wealthy.

    But this is more than just the case of a disgruntled employee, because the research shows that Actos isn't nearly as safe as you've been led to believe.

    Back in 2010, a major study in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that roughly the same number of Avandia and Actos patients died of heart attack, heart failure, and death -- four percent in all.

    In addition, several studies have found a link between Actos and bladder cancer -- especially in patients who take the highest doses for the longest periods.

    Ultimately, a jury will decide if the company has been lying or telling the truth. But the jury was out a long time ago on a much bigger issue: Diabetes drugs are not safe -- and if you're on them, work with your own doctor to find your way off.

  2. A wake-up call for bad sleep habits

    Judging by myself and my patients -- not to mention the bags under the eyes of many of the people I meet each day -- I'd say the biggest problem when it comes to sleep is that we don't get nearly enough of it.

    But believe it or not, it's possible to go too far in the other direction as well. Like all good things, you can get way too much sleep -- and too much sleep can be every bit as dangerous as too little.

    One new study spells out the risks I've seen before: More than eight hours of sleep a night will boost your risk of chest pain and coronary artery disease.

    Of course, the study also confirms that those of us who don't get enough should hit the hay a little earlier -- because less than six hours a night can double your risk of heart attack or stroke.

    Too little sleep can also boost the odds of congestive heart failure by 70 percent, according to the study of more than 3,000 people ages 45 and up presented at a recent American College of Cardiology conference.

    That means the sweet spot for sleep -- for most people anyway -- is between six and eight hours a night, or right around the seven nightly hours I've seen recommended from other studies.

    One of those studies found that less than six and more than eight hours can boost the risk of cognitive problems. Too little sleep leads to problems in reasoning, vocabulary, and global cognition, while too much sleep can actually hurt up to six cognitive functions, according to British researchers.

    Another study in 2010 looked at even more extreme levels of sleep, and found even more extreme results. Less than five hours a night doubles the risk of angina, heart disease, heart attack, or stroke -- while nine or more boosts the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.

    What does this mean for you? Get the right amount of sleep, of course.

    Just don't turn to meds for help. Common sleep drugs can increase the risk of a number of health problems, up to and including death itself.

  3. A clean mouth for a healthy heart

    It's no secret that people with clean teeth and healthy gums have a lower risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, and two new studies again confirm the link.
  4. Heart drug in death risk

    Here's an urgent warning for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who've taken the heart drug Multaq: The FDA says it may double the risk of death in some patients.

4 Item(s)