News May 2007 Issue

In The News: 05/07

Common Pain-Relievers Linked to Elevated Hypertension In Men

Although previous studies have shown an association between common analgesics and hypertension (high blood pressure) in women, a study has found that men who use such widely available pain-relievers as acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory

drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, and aspirin are also at increased risk of elevated blood pressure. In research reported in the February 26 issue of

Archives of Internal Medicine, of 16,031 men (average age 64) who took part in the study, 1,968 developed hypertension after four years. Compared with men who did not take analgesics, those who took acetaminophen six or seven days a week had a 34 percent higher risk of hypertension. Those who took NSAIDs for the same period had a 38 percent higher risk, and those who took aspirin had a 26 percent higher risk. The study’s authors concluded that all three types of analgesics might inhibit the effects of bodily chemicals that relax the blood vessels, decreasing blood pressure. Acetaminophen, they also suggested, may impair cell function or reduce the proper functioning of blood-vessel lining.

Different Leg Lengths May Increase Arthritis Risk

If your legs are uneven in length, you may be courting increased

risk of knee and hip arthritis. According to findings presented at the American College of Rheumatology in November 2006, a leg-length difference of as little as two centimeters (approximately four-fifths of an inch) could increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Researchers examined 3,161 men and women with OA and found that 6.4 percent of them had legs of different lengths. Compared to people with normal-length legs, those with leg-length differences of two centimeters or more were more likely to develop arthritis in the hip (32.5 vs. 26.1 percent) and arthritis in the knee ( 45.3 vs. 29 percent). They were also more likely to experience greater severity of the disease. The takeaway message: Shoe lifts or orthotics may prevent knee or hip arthritis, or at least keep it from getting worse.

Clinical Tool Determines Need For Spinal X-Ray

A French research team has developed six parameters to predict the need for spine radiography to determine vertebral fractures in

women with osteoporosis. Investigators studied 410 women with osteoporosis (average age 74), of which 215 were diagnosed with at least one vertebral fracture. After examining the latter group, researchers came up with six predictors of vetebral fracture: age, back-pain intensity, height loss, history of nonvertebral fractures, localization of back pain, and sudden occurrence of back pain. On an index with a maximum score of 16, a score of 7 was associated with a 43 percent probability of an existing vertebral fracture. Women with fractures were, on average, 3.1 years older and 1.9 cm shorter than non-fracture subjects. Pain associated with a vertebral fracture was also found to be more intense and more likely to occur suddenly. Investigators claim the simple index will help identify women with osteoporosis and back pain who should have radiography. Vertebral fractures occur in approximately 20 percent of postmenopausal women, significantly increasing the risk for later hip fracture.

Osteoporosis Drug May Help Arthritis Pain

Risedronate (Actonel), a medication prescribed to strengthen aging

bones, may also protect your joints, according to a recent report published in

Arthtitis & Rheumatism. Investigators studied 2,483 men and women with osteoporosis to determine the effects of the drug, which is normally used to treat bone loss. Blood tests revealed that risedronate not only stabilized bone loss, but appeared to slow the breakdown of cartilage. Although X-rays did not show dramatic changes in the structure of the patients’ joints, they did not show significant progression of osteoarthritis. The study’s authors suggested that medications affecting bone loss should be evaluated further for their potential effects as arthritis therapies.