My Healthy Heart ArticlesAdvertisementAmong the research

My Healthy Heart ArticlesAdvertisementAmong the research

My Healthy Heart Articles

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Among the research into successfully treating heart disease, new evidence has emerged that some of the oldest and most established treatments are still best. Aspirin, a long-time treatment for heart conditions, was reaffirmed as an effective way to reduce blood clotting. Statins, a treatment for high cholesterol, were first researched three decades ago. Their effectiveness in treating elderly patients was solidified within the last two months.

As effective as these treatments are, if the proper treatment schedule is not strictly followed, they will do heart disease sufferers little good. One study conducted in Australia found an alarming trend among heart disease patients: within six months to two years after being placed on medication, an alarming number of patients stop their treatments—without the advice of their physician.

Aspirin Still Recommended for Treating Heart Disease
Aspirin has been preventing and treating heart attack for decades—and a new study reported in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, has only reinforced its proven effectiveness.

The study was designed to determine the degree of platelet aspirin responsiveness in patients and to study the association between the aspirin dosage and platelet inhibition. Researchers tested three different dosage levels and found that aspirin effectively blocked the enzyme that initiates blood clots at daily doses of 81 mg, 162 mg, and 325 mg.

Aspirin has an antiplatelet effect. In other words, it inhibits or decreases the production of blood cells that cause clotting. Reducing platelets reduces the risk of blocked arteries, which in turn reduces the risk of developing heart disease or suffering from heart attack.

Dr. Lawrence Craven, a California general practitioner, first noticed the benefits of aspirin as a preventative measure against heart disease and heart attack in 1948. He recommended to his friends and colleagues "an aspirin a day." Doctors have been prescribing aspirin to heart disease patients ever since.

The study was conducted by a team of researchers led by Paul Gurbel at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore.

High-Dose Statin Confers Additional Benefit in Older Patients with Coronary Heart Disease
High-dose atorvastatin offers additional cardiovascular benefit to older adults with coronary heart disease, reports a study in Annals of Internal Medicine. Statins reduce the amount of cholesterol and fatty lipids in the bloodstream by inhibiting certain enzymes that initiate the production of cholesterol. Reducing cholesterol in the blood is an effective treatment and prevention of heart disease.

A secondary analysis from the manufacturer-supported Treating to New Targets study examined cardiovascular events among some 3,800 adults aged 65 and older with coronary heart disease who were randomized to receive 80 mg or 10 mg of atorvastatin. Mean LDL cholesterol levels in the two groups were reduced to 72 mg/dL and 97 mg/dL, respectively, by 12 weeks and remained stable throughout the study.

During a median follow-up of 5 years, death due to CHD, nonfatal MI, cardiac arrest, and stroke occurred in fewer high-dose than low-dose recipients (10.3 percent vs. 12.6 percent).

The authors say their findings support "National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines for use of intensive LDL cholesterol-lowering therapy in high-risk older persons," as well as American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recommendations to lower LDL cholesterol to well below 100 mg/dL "in any patient with established CHD."

To read more on the results of the study, visit The Annals of Internal Medicine site.

Study Finds Cardiovascular Patients Lag in their Treatments
A study has found a startling trend among cardiovascular disease sufferers in Australia: many patients stop taking their medication after the first six to 24 months of starting treatment.

According to the study "Medicines for cardiovascular health: are they used appropriately?" conducted by The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 10 to 25 percent of patients abandoned their medication six months after starting cardiovascular treatment regimen. A year and a half later, the number of patients no longer taking their medication increased dramatically. At 24 months, 21 to 47 percent of patients had stopped the prescribed treatment.

"This may represent a significant lost opportunity to prevent cardiovascular disease or delay its progression and complications, with medicines known to be effective," said Susana Senes, a member of the institutes''s cardiovascular disease and diabetes unit, in a news release.

When patients are noncompliant, in other words, when they disregard the advice or instructions of their health care providers, proven treatments become ineffective. Noncompliance is especially concerning in cases of cardiovascular disease since medications used to treat or prevent the condition are prescribed for long-term use.

With some conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, patients stop taking their medicine because they show no symptoms. Some patients do not understand their condition fully or may not believe they are benefiting from the treatment. Other patients stop taking their medication because of inadequate follow-up planning, or poor communication with their health professional.

Luckily, those obstacles can be easily avoided. Patients can consult with their doctors about their condition and treatment, and ask questions so they understand the long-term plan for cardiovascular disease treatment and prevention, and stay on track.

The study also found that Australian doctors are doing more to utilize existing treatments. The number of prescriptions of cholesterol-lowering agents, some blood pressure-lowering medicines, clot preventing medicines, and beta-blocking agents used to combat heart failure for cardiovascular patients has steadily increased since 2000.

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