PHARMACY

Women with gout at greater risk of heart attack than men

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK New research published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases indicate that women with a complex form of arthritis are more likely to experience a heart attack than men.

Researchers based their findings on a population study of more than 9,500 gout patients and 48,000 people without the disease, ages 65 years and older. All participants were drawn from the Canadian British Columbia Linked Health Database, which covers the entire province of British Columbia (population 4.5 million) and contains long term information on healthcare use.

The cardiovascular health of all the participants was tracked for an average of seven years, during which time 3,268 fatal and nonfatal heart attacks occurred. Of these, just under a third (996) were in women.

Compared with women who did not have gout, those who did were 39% more likely to have a heart attack of any kind and 41% more likely to have a nonfatal heart attack. Additionally, the risks were significantly higher among women than men, who were only 11% more likely than those without the disease to have a fatal or nonfatal heart attack.

Gout is typically caused by inflammation in the joints as a result of excess uric acid deposits.

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Artificial pancreas may benefit young Type 1 diabetes patients

BY Alaric DeArment

LONDON Sleeping overnight with an artificial pancreas system benefits children and teenagers with Type 1 diabetes, according to a study published in the Feb. 5 issue of The Lancet.

The study, funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge in England, had participants aged 5 to 18 spend the night in a hospital using a combination of commercially available blood glucose sensors and insulin pumps controlled by a computer program that determined insulin dosage based on blood glucose levels.

The study found that the patients had targeted blood glucose levels for twice as long when they used the artificial pancreas system than when they used conventional therapy.

“These studies show that automated systems not only can help people manage diabetes by maintaining good control, they will also improve quality of life for the people with Type 1 diabetes and their families by lowering the risk of hypoglycemia,” University of Cambridge Institute of Metabolic Science researcher and lead study author Roman Hovorka said. “These results suggest that closed-loop devices may be able to significantly lower the patient’s risk of developing complications later in life by reducing or even overcoming the burden of hypoglycemia.”

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FDA issues warning over safety of Tysabri use

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. Patients using a drug for treating multiple sclerosis may be at increased risk of developing a deadly brain infection, the Food and Drug Administration said Friday in a warning to healthcare professionals and patients.

The FDA said that 31 patients using the drug Tysabri (natalizumab), marketed by Elan Corp. and Biogen Idec, had developed progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML, as of Jan. 21. The drug’s safety labeling has been updated to reflect the risk. Still, the agency said the benefits of the drug outweigh the potential risks.

PML is caused by the JC virus, a virus that occurs naturally in most adults but is kept in check by the body’s immune system. When the immune system becomes compromised due to diseases such as AIDS or the use of immune-suppressing drugs, the risk that the virus will multiply and cause irreversible and fatal damage to the brain increases.

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