News March 2005 Issue

In the News: 03/05

Naproxen Tied To Heart Attack Risk
Following the Vioxx mess and warnings that other COX-2 drugs (Bextra, Celebrex) may pose heart-attack risks, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that naproxen (Aleve) may also increase the risk of heart attack. The agency suspended the use of naproxen during a large Alzheimer’s trial after discovering that the drug appeared to increase the danger of heart attack and stroke by 50 percent. Though naproxen has been available either by prescription or over the counter for nearly 30 years, has been thought to offer some degree of cardiac protection, and had not been found to increase heart-attack risk in earlier studies, the pain-reliever had never been tested in a study of such magnitude and duration. The three-year study, known as the Alzheimer’s Disease Anti-Inflammatory Prevention Trial (ADAPT) and involving 2,400 participants over the age of 70, also tested the celecoxib Celebrex, which although it had been shown to increase heart risk in earlier studies, demonstrated no increased risk in the ADAPT study. NIH officials did admit that the ADAPT study, among the first long-term clinical trials to test naproxen, was examining the drug for uses far different from the uses for which the pain-reliever is currently approved. For the time being, the Food and Drug Administration, acknowledging that conflicting results between previous studies and the ADAPT study may be confusing, has recommended following current dosage recommendations for the drug.

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Resistive Training Tops Low-Intensity Exercise In Hip-Surgery Rehab
 A new study has found that resistive training—supervised exercise using a stationary bike or performing leg exercises with small weights—is more beneficial than low-intensity flexibility exercise in increasing function following hip surgery. The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, were based on a randomized trial of 90 patients age 65 and older who had undergone recent surgical repair of a proximal femur (hip) fracture. Participants were randomly assigned to either six months of supervised resistive training at an indoor facility (45-90 minutes three times a week) or six months of unsupervised low-intensity exercise three times a week at home. Resistive-training patients showed not only an increase in muscle strength when compared to the at-home exercise group but improvements in movement, walking speed, and balance.

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Get A Grip: Sneakers Reduce Fall Risk
Those sneakers may be more useful than for helping you up a slippery path or avoiding a foot fault in that next game of friendly doubles. They may also help prevent falls, the leading cause of injury among older people. According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, wearing something other than sneakers can increase your risk of falling by nearly 30 percent. The study, which monitored 1,371 participants over the age of 65, examined several categories of footwear—sneakers, loafers, heels, lace-up oxfords, and flats. Enjoy going barefoot? Your chances of taking a spill increase even more dramatically;  subjects who went shoeless fell 10 times more often. Researchers concluded that a sneaker’s wider, softer sole prevents slipping as well as tipping on uneven ground.

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Increase Vitamin D To Improve Knee Strength
Increased levels of vitamin D can improve muscle strength and function for patients with knee osteoarthritis who are vitamin D-deficient. Research presented during a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology revealed that in a study of 221 patients, average age 67 years, those with higher levels of vitamin D experienced less pain and disability than those who were vitamin D-deficient. Vitamin D—derived primarily from sunlight and, to a lesser extent, from dietary sources—promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorous needed for bone growth and repair. Since the elderly are less efficient at producing vitamin D from sunlight and absorbing it from food, a vitamin D supplement of 400-600 IU per day is recommended.