HEALTH

American Heart Association joins NSAID education group

BY Alaric DeArment

EUGENE, Ore. — The American Heart Association has joined a group of patient and provider organizations promoting safe use of a commonly used class of painkillers.

The AHA announced that it had joined the Alliance for the Rational Use of NSAIDs, which refers to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a class that includes the common drug ibuprofen. Other members include the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

According to the alliance, about 23 million people in the United States use NSAIDs on a daily basis, and 98 million prescriptions for them have been filled this year, but studies have indicated that overuse of the drugs can cause severe problems in the digestive system, kidneys and heart. A recent study published in the journal Circulation found that heart attack survivors who used NSAIDs were 59% more likely to die from any cause within one year of their heart attack, and 63% more likely within five years. In addition, survivors faced a 30% increased risk of having another heart attack or dying from coronary artery disease after a year and a 41% increased risk after five years.

"The alliance’s mission to support the education of healthcare professionals and patients about appropriate use of these drugs is critical for us, particularly in light of the new Circulation study," AHA board member and Harvard Medical School professor Elliott Antman said.


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Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, others, criticize states commitment to smoking cessation

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other advocacy groups last week released a report claiming that states are spending only "a miniscule portion" of their tobacco revenues to fight tobacco use. "The states have failed to reverse deep cuts to tobacco prevention and cessation programs that have undermined the nation’s efforts to reduce tobacco use," the advocacy groups stated. 

According to the report, states will collect $25.7 billion in revenue over fiscal 2013 from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend only 1.8% of it, or $459.5 million, on programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.  

The report was issued by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

The report also claimed that states have failed to reverse deep cuts that reduced tobacco prevention funding by 36%, or $260.5 million, from FY 2008 to FY 2012. Funding this year is essentially flat with the $456.7 million budgeted last year, the groups reported. Only two states — Alaska and North Dakota — currently fund tobacco prevention programs at a level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which amounts to $3.7 billion nationwide. Only three other states — Delaware, Wyoming and Hawaii — provide even half of the CDC-recommended funding. 

"As the nation implements healthcare reform, the states are missing a golden opportunity to reduce tobacco-related healthcare costs, which total $96 billion a year in the United States," the groups stated. "There is growing evidence that tobacco prevention programs save lives and save money by reducing healthcare costs. One recent study found that Washington state saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent during the first 10 years of its program."

For the complete 139-page report, click here.

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Medline promotes use of BioMask facemask to protect against flu

BY Michael Johnsen

MUNDELEIN, Ill. — Following last week’s news that the influenza season has gotten off to an early start, Medline issued a release recommending the company’s BioMask facemask as adequate protection against contracting the flu.

BioMask is a Food and Drug Administration-cleared antiviral medical facemask that has been found to inactivate flu viruses — including the H3N2, this year’s dominant strain — as well as other laboratory-tested flu viruses, the company reported. “BioMask should be one of the most important items in any home’s medicine cabinet or traveling first-aid kit right alongside hand antiseptics, adhesive bandages, alcohol pads, tape and exam gloves,” stated Lorri Downs VP clinical services, infection prevention and patient safety for Medline. “BioMask can help protect patients who are at home and especially at-risk groups, such as children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immunities, as well as healthcare workers.”

According to the company, BioMask inactivates 99.99% of the tested flu viruses on five minutes contact. 

BioMask is sold under Medline’s Curad brand name.

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