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FDA issues naproxen warning

[white square] The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning on popular anti-inflammatory drug naproxen. Preliminary information on a study examining the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in patients at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease indicated that patients taking naproxen experienced increased risk of heart problems. Researchers found that the naproxen group had a 50% higher chance of a cardiovascular event than the placebo group. The FDA's warning indicates patients shouldn't exceed the drug's recommended over-the-counter dosage and shouldn't take the drug for more than 10 days without health-care provider supervision.


Doppler technology for cardiovascular imaging

[white square] Researchers set out to examine whether contrast-enhanced color Doppler echocardiography could determine left ventricular (LV) mass, and if so, were the data as accurate as that obtained by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They acquired images in the short-axis plane of the heart, and calculated LV mass by Simpson's rule and the area-length method. Researchers found that the correlation between the different methods was excellent. Consequently, they determined that LV mass can accurately be obtained through the use of contrast-enhanced color Doppler and two-dimensional echocardiography results. They further concluded that the contrast Doppler method accurately determines LV mass with excellent agreement with the MRI technique.


Source: Bezante, G., et al.: "Left Ventricular Myocardial Mass Determination by Contrast Enhanced Colour Doppler Compared with Magnetic Resonance Imaging," Heart. 91:38-43, 2005.


Pulmonary artery catheter caution

[white square] Researchers found that pulmonary artery catheters, devices long used to monitor heart function in critically ill patients, have a different effect on patients' survival depending on the severity of their illnesses. They found that the more severely ill patients had a decreased death rate in association with the pulmonary artery catheter use, while patients who weren't as severely ill had an increased death rate in association with the catheter. Researchers reached this conclusion after studying 7,310 critically ill patients, divided into four groups based on the severity of the illness. Overall, use of a pulmonary artery catheter had no effect on mortality. But when examining the subgroups, physicians noted that lesser-acuity patients didn't benefit from the catheter, while the sicker patients did benefit. The authors suggested that more research should be conducted to support the study's findings.


Source: Chittock, D., et al.: "Severity of Illness and Risk of Death Associated with Pulmonary Artery Catheter Use," Critical Care Medicine. 32(4):911-915, 2004.


Lung disease on the rise in women

[white square] A growing number of women are dying from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of diseases that result in airflow blockage in and out of the lungs. Recently, a higher number of women presented to the emergency department for COPD and more women than men were hospitalized for COPD-related issues. Why are higher numbers of women contracting COPD? They have smaller breathing passages than men, so for the same amount of irritation, they'll have greater impairment. Also, more women are smoking than men, and they may be more susceptible to the negative effects of tobacco. Smoking cessation is the number-one method of lowering the risk of COPD.


Noninvasive method for airway obstruction evaluation approved

[white square] Researchers noted that measuring pulsus paradoxus (PP) through the use of pulse oximeter plethysmographic waveform (Pppleth) is a non-invasive, yet accurate, method of evaluating airway obstruction. After studying 36 pediatric patients (11 of which were diagnosed as asthmatic) over a 4-month period, researchers measured PP using a sphygmomanometer (Ppausc), then with Pppleth. They found that PP measured higher in the asthmatic group, using both Pppleth and Ppausc, which makes Pppleth an easy alternative. Researchers said that it can be especially useful in situations where auscultation is difficult.


Source: Clark, J.: "Comparison of Traditional and Plethysmographic Methods for Measuring Pulsus Paradoxus," Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine . 2004;158:48-51.


Anastrozole vs. tamoxifen

[white square] One 5-year study indicates that anastrozole, a new class of breast cancer drugs, prevents breast cancer from returning at a better rate than the standard treatment tamoxifen. Researchers found that anastrozole may prevent 70% to 80% of tumors women have after menopause, compared to tamoxifen's 50% rate of prevention. The drug also gave women an additional 10% of life without cancer compared to those on tamoxifen, and it also reduced metastasis by 14%. The new study, which offers 5-year results over the previous 3-year results, is the most definitive study to date, indicating that anastrozole improved disease-free survival by 26% over its predecessor.


Source: "New Breast Cancer Drug May Improve Survival," available online: