Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Seniors' Prescription Drug Use Varies Widely by Region:
Seniors living the American South are more likely than those
living elsewhere to receive prescriptions for drugs deemed risky by
experts, but less likely to be prescribed certain medications that
might help them ward off heart attacks, a new study has found.
Overall, more than 1 in every 4 Medicare patients across the
United States received at least one prescription for medications
deemed risky for seniors, according to the study from the Dartmouth
Atlas Project, the
But the problem was more widespread in the South. For example, a
senior in Alexandria, La., was more than three times as likely to
receive one of these potentially harmful drugs compared to a senior
in Rochester, Minn. Examples of these riskier medications include
muscle relaxants or anti-anxiety drugs, both of which have been
linked to excessive sedation, falls and other problems, the
There were disparities in who received potentially helpful
drugs, as well. For example, seniors who had already had a heart
attack were much more likely to get a cholesterol-lowering statin
drug if they lived in Utah than if they lived in Texas, the study
"There's no good reason" for these regional disparities in prescribing trends, lead researcher Dr. Jeffrey Munson, an assistant professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, told the AP.
He said physicians "really need to ask themselves, 'Is there a
good reason why my patients are getting less effective care than
patients in the other regions.' "
Patients must be more vigilant, as well, Munson said, and ask
their physician why a particular medicine is being prescribed, its
pros and cons, and any available alternative therapies.
Bush's Recent Heart Trouble More Serious Than Thought:
Described at the time as a routine procedure, former President
George W. Bush's recent heart surgery was actually aimed at fixing
a potentially life-threatening condition, experts now say.
During a routine physical exam at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas in
early August, doctors discovered that Bush, 67, had a blocked
NBC Newsreported Monday. Bush agreed to undergo an operation
where doctors place a mesh tube called a stent into the artery, to
help re-open it.
Blocked coronary arteries can be life-threatening, although it's
not clear how close to a heart attack Bush may have come.
"You can get along very well with some tight narrowings," Dr. Jeff Brinker, an interventional radiologist and a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told NBC News. He explained that when major arteries narrow, the body often finds ways to divert blood flow around the area of closure, using nearby blood vessels.
Another heart expert agreed. A blocked artery "doesn't mean you
are going to drop dead or have a heart attack the next day," Dr.
Howard Hermann, a professor of medicine and director of
interventional cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania, told
NBC. "There are other factors that go into the decision of
whether to put a stent in, including where the blockage is, how
fast it developed, whether there were symptoms, what the stress
test showed and others."
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