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Breast cancer drug may cause heart health problems among those with history of heart disease, diabetes

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK — A new study published in the Annals of Oncology found that a certain breast cancer drug may pose an increased risk of heart problems in elderly patients with a history of heart disease and/or diabetes.

After examining the records of 45 women between the ages of 70 and 92 years that have been treated with trastuzumab since 2005, 12 of the patients (26.7%) developed heart problems. Additionally, 33% of the women with a history of heart disease developed either asymptomatic and symptomatic heart problems as a result of taking trastuzumab, compared with only 9.1% of women without such a history, and 33.3% of women with diabetes developed problems, compared with only 6.1% without the condition. When trastuzumab treatment was stopped, all but one of the women fully recovered, while five of them were able to restart the treatment.

Study author César Serrano, who conducted the research while working as a clinical fellow at the Department of Medical Oncology Breast Cancer Centre at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona, said that "this is the first study specifically to assess trastuzumab-related cardiac toxicity and the cardiovascular factors that are associated with an increased risk in a selected population of elderly breast cancer patients."

Serrano, who now is a postdoctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said that based on the results, "[we] think that it is reasonable to refer elderly breast cancer patients to a cardiologist if one or more cardiovascular risk factors are present before or during treatment with trastuzumab. Moreover, a closer surveillance of early symptoms and cardiac function is highly recommended."

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Loblaw to extend Get Checked Now program

BY Allison Cerra

BRAMPTON, Ontario — Canada-based drug store chain Loblaw has extended its Get Checked Now diabetes program, the company announced Thursday.

The program, which is offered at participating in-store Loblaw pharmacy and DRUGstore pharmacy locations, offers personalized computerized diabetes risk assessments, as well as a customized printout for patients. This year, however, Loblaw said the Get Checked Now program will offer two types of education sessions led by a Canadian Diabetes Association community presenter, as well as diabetes-friendly cooking classes and dietitian-led store tours, which will show patients how to read food labels and make healthy food choices.

"Working with the Canadian Diabetes Association is another example of Loblaw’s commitment to help Canadians live healthier lives," Loblaw SVP pharmacy Bobbi Reinholdt said. "Our pharmacists can provide personalized diabetes risk assessments at any time as well as education on managing diabetes, including diabetes medication reviews. Loblaw and its pharmacies aim to support Canadians’ healthier lifestyle goals in a one-stop shop experience."

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CDC: People live longer if they practice one or more healthy lifestyle behaviors

BY Allison Cerra

ATLANTA — According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people that practice one or more healthy lifestyle behaviors are likely to live longer.

The researchers, which analyzed data collected from the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III Mortality study — a mortality follow-up of NHANES III survey participants aged 17 years and older who were recruited from 1988 to 1994 and followed through 2006 — discovered that those that engaged in all four healthy behaviors, which include not smoking, eating well, getting regular exercise and limiting alcohol consumption, were 63% less likely to die early, compared with people who did not practice any of the behaviors. Among the subjects examined, 47.5% had never smoked, 51% were moderate drinkers, 39.3% had a healthy diet and 40.2% were adequately physically active. The researchers noted that the percentage of people who reported low-risk behaviors did not differ significantly by gender. What’s more, Mexican Americans had more healthy behaviors when compared with whites and African-Americans.

The research was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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