Heart Beat: August 2014
Taking prescribed anti-clotting drug vital for stent patients
If you have a stent implanted to help improve blood flow in an artery, filling your prescription for an anti-clotting medication could be a life-saving decision. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the risk of heart attack and death among stent patients who delay in filling their prescriptions is highest within 30 days of receiving a stent. Researchers also noted that about 30 percent of patients who just received a stent fail to fill their prescriptions within three days of hospital discharge. Taking the antiplatelet drug clopidogrel (Plavix) helps reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the area of the new stent. Patients who receive bare-metal stents are advised to take clopidogrel (and aspirin in many cases) for about a month after stent placement. Patients who get drug-eluting stents may be prescribed clopidogrel for up to 12 months. In the JAMA study, researchers found that patients who didnít fill their prescriptions promptly were three times as likely to have a heart attack within a month; five times as likely to die of any cause within a month; and were twice as likely to have a heart attack or die due to any cause within two years. The researchers stressed the importance of starting clopidogrel therapy within a day of stent placement, noting that delaying even a couple of days often led to worse outcomes.
Stroke risk may be higher among older migraine sufferers
Older adults who experience migraine headaches may be more likely to suffer silent brain injuries, which are symptomless risk factors for future strokes. Thatís according to research published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke. Researchers found that people with a history of migraines had double the odds of ischemic silent brain infarction, which is a temporary interruption of blood flow to the brain usually due to a blood clot. The risk of stroke among migraine sufferers without vascular risk factors remains fairly low. However, the findings should be of particular interest to older adults who get migraines and who have vascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, smoking, a previous stroke, and conditions such as carotid artery disease, an arrhythmia, coronary artery disease, an aneurysm, and peripheral artery disease. These individuals should be particularly aware of their risks and be especially mindful to control their risk factors. This means controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, getting regular exercise throughout the week, and eating a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
FDA approves drug to reduce heart attack, stroke risk
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug vorapaxar to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular-related death and coronary revascularization among patients who have a history of heart attack or peripheral artery disease. Vorapaxar is the first in a new class of drugs known as protease-activated receptor-1 antagonists. Itís designed to inihibit the clumping of platelets into blood clots. The new drug does carry a risk of bleeding and bruising more easily. Patients who take the drug and experience such side effects should report them to their doctor. Vorapaxar may be prescribed along with aspirin or clopidogrel to help reduce heart attack and stroke risks.
Processed red meat consumption may raise heart failure risk
Men who regularly consume processed red meats, such as cold cuts and sausage, may have an increased risk of heart failure and a greater risk of death from heart failure, according to a study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation. Researchers found that processed red meat ingredients such as nitrates, sodium, phosphates and other additives all may contribute to heart failure risk. In the study of more than 37,000 men ages 45 to 79, those who ate 75 grams of processed red meat or more per day had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure compared with those who eat 25 grams or less per day. Researchers recommend avoiding processed red meat and limiting unprocessed red meat to one or two servings per week or less.