1. Polypill fails heart test

    'Polypill' heart drug falls short where it matters most

    Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought the biggest test of a drug is how well it works, and whether or not the benefits are worth the risks -- not how easy it is to take.

    But the latest heart pill, the polypill, is making its way to a pharmacy near you right now. It's being hailed as "the next big thing" not because it's effective, and not because it's safe.

    No, it's actually proven to be neither -- but it's being pushed by the mainstream anyway because it's so easy to take.

    The pollypill is a single pill that contains four drugs: a statin (with potential muscle pain, diabetes, memory loss and more), aspirin (with potential serious internal bleeding problems) and two different hypertension meds (with more potential risks than I can even list here).

    How well does it work? Well... your doctor would rather you not ask that question. All he wants to talk about is how much better it is to swallow one pill instead of four pills.

    And in that sense, the drug "works" beautifully, as new research shows that seniors given the polypill are much more likely to take all their meds -- three times more likely, in the case of seniors most prone to skipping doses.

    But let's get back to that nagging question your doctor doesn't want to have to answer -- the one thing he almost certainly won't talk about once the polypill is approved and he delivers the big sales pitch (complete with free samples, no doubt).

    Does it work?

    In a word, no -- because the same study finds no improvements at all by the two most important measures: no reduction in heart attack risk, and no improvement in stroke risk.


    And if a heart drug fails to deliver in these two key areas, then it doesn't matter how easy it is to take -- it's not worth taking, plain and simple.

    Fortunately, there's a better way to protect your heart -- safe, natural and (most importantly) effective treatments that can reduce your risk of a heart attack and stroke whether you've already had one, or just want to make sure you never suffer one.

    Like, for example, making yourself "stroke proof" with the simple and delicious diet that I told you about recently. (Missed it? Catch up here.) Or there's the mega mineral secret that can slash your heart risk by 30 percent. Read all about it here.

    In many cases, these natural solutions can help you to reduce the number of meds you take or even eliminate them entirely -- and that's the best way of all to make it easier to take your medicine.

    A holistic physician can help get you started.

  2. Brain stents kill stroke patients

    Six years ago, the feds rushed the approval of brain stents for patients facing a high risk of stroke, claiming they needed to act quickly on "compassionate" grounds.

    Today, I just have to wonder whose compassion they had in mind -- because it's certainly not those stroke patients: They began dropping dead so quickly and so often that the latest study on the stents had to be cut short.

    And instead of waiting to get the results published, the researchers quickly posted them online to help spread the word to docs around the world that this "treatment" is more like a death sentence.

    In the doomed study, researchers gave 450 patients who had suffered a stroke or stroke-like symptoms either the usual treatments to reduce risk factors or the stents, which are supposed to open narrowed arteries in the brain.

    In the first 30 days after treatment, 15 percent of the stent patients had a second stroke or died -- versus just 6 percent of those in the control group. Over the course of a year, 20.5 percent of the stent patients had a stroke or died, versus 11.5 percent of those in the control group.

    The researchers say they're still trying to figure out why the stent patients had such a dramatically higher risk of stroke and death, but does it even matter at this point?

    The risks are just way too high, and that brings us back to square one -- because there's still no surefire way to eliminate your risk of stroke, and any drug or treatment that claims otherwise is selling an empty promise.

    The best and only way to protect yourself is to focus on lifestyle changes, and not the ones your doctor has been recommending.

    He'll probably tell you that cholesterol has something to do with stroke -- even the National Stroke Association puts it high on the list, right after hypertension and atrial fibrillation. But a study earlier this year found that LDL levels were only a stroke risk factor in men when they reached the sky-high level of 350. (Read about it here.)

    Other than that, the researchers found no link at all -- so whatever you do, don't let anyone talk you into taking a statin to lower your stroke risk.

    Another blood fat, triglycerides, can boost your stroke risk -- but you don't need a drug to slash those.

    Fish oil will do the trick for you.

    Along with omega-3 fatty acids, studies have found that coffee, olive oil, and a positive outlook can all lower your risk of stroke. I've got one more coming up next -- and it's something you might be eating everyday anyway.

    Keep reading!

  3. Statins for the masses

    Pfizer is getting ready to take a multibillion-dollar loss this fall when it loses patent protection on the best-selling drug of all time. But don't expect them to sit back and watch Lipitor's $11 billion a year in sales go down the drain. The Wall Street Journal says the company is hatching a plan to have its cholesterol-lowering drug sold over the counter.
  4. Next wave of meds aimed at HDL cholesterol

    Right now, trials are under way on the next wave of meds Big Pharma hopes everyone will take, including you: Drugs designed to raise levels of HDL cholesterol.
  5. Statin studies aim to spread prescriptions

    In reality, the 63 percent who take the meds should be working on a way off of them--because no matter what you've heard, there IS life after statins.

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