Plavix and Heartburn Meds Dangerous Combination

If you are taking Plavix, an anti-clotting medication, you need to know that drugs prescribed to treat heartburn, known as proton-pump inhibitors, may be dangerous to your health. These medications, which include Nexium and Prilosec, can actually increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.

This presents a problem for patients, since their doctor may prescribe a proton-pump inhibitor to lower the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding that is a side effect of taking Plavix. This combination of medications appears to stop patients from reaping the benefits of taking Plavix in the first place, which is to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Several lawsuits have been started alleging that Bristol-Myers and Sanofi Aventis, who manufacture Plavix, failed to warn the public about side effects that may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, ulcers, and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpora, a blood disorder.

Blame Your Genes for Stroke Risk

Your risk of having a stroke or developing early onset coronary artery disease may be genetic. Scientists at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have discovered a single gene defect that causes these two health issues, as well as thoracic aortic aneurysms, ischemic stroke, and Moyamoya disease (a rare disorder affecting the cartoid arteries in the brain).

If someone has the mutated ACTA2 gene, then vascular screening tests can be ordered. Early diagnosis means that appropriate treatment can be started to lower the risk of disability or death. Family history is only one of the risk factors for coronary disease, and your lifestyle choices can help to reduce it.

Here are the basics you need to remember:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a balanced diet that is low in saturated fat.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Find a way to fight stress.
  • Have your blood pressure checked regularly.

Arizona Hospitals Offering Free Stroke Screening

Would you like to know your risk of stroke? Valley residents in Arizona can visit a participating hospital to find out. The hospitals and the American Stroke Association are picking up the tab for the StrokeCheck screenings, which would cost $250-$300 if patients were paying for them.

It’s a small price to pay when you consider that the cost of caring for a stroke patient can add up to $100,000 or more. That figure doesn’t take into account loss of income or other expenses incurred as a result of the stroke.

Providing free StrokeChecks makes good sense, both financially and from a preventive care standpoint. Other hospitals would do well to follow suit and help those at higher risk to take steps to improve their health and lower their risk. Hospitals can provide preventive care, not just places that treat serious medical conditions.

Breastfeeding Good for Moms, Too

We have heard that “breast is best” for babies, but the results of a study published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology indicate that this practice has health benefits for mothers as well. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh examined the health records of almost 140,000 post-menopausal women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative. The study started in 1994. The results indicate that the longer a woman nurses her child, the lower her risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Breast feeding for two years or more during a woman’s lifetime had these benefits:

  • 12 percent lower risk for diabetes
  • 13 percent lower risk for high blood pressure
  • 20 percent lower risk for high cholesterol

For some women, opting against bottle feeding offers a certain degree of protection against the following:

  • anemia
  • breast cancer
  • endometrial cancer
  • osteoporosis
  • ovarian cancer

High Stress on the Job Can Lead to Stroke

With the economic conditions being what they are and companies laying off workers in large numbers, those who are left are expected to work harder to pick up the slack. The increased workload adds more stress to our already stressed-out lives.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to find ways to cope with job stress. If you are middle-aged and work in an environment where you have a lot of demands placed on you but little control over your work, your chances of having a stroke increase dramatically.

It may be tempting, especially for men, to define yourself by the work that you do, but it’s important to stay connected with the important people in your life and to have a life outside of your work. Get some exercise, do some volunteer work, or find a hobby you enjoy.

More Fatal Strokes in Winter

Now you have another reason to welcome spring: People are more likely to have a particular kind of highly-fatal stroke in colder months. Doctors in Hong Kong have found that January is the month when most aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhages occur. The mortality rate for this type of stroke comes in at 50 percent, and most people who have one die on the day of the event.

Changes in atmospheric pressure appear to play a role in whether someone has this type of stroke. Smoking and high blood pressure have also been linked to it as well, which is a good reason for giving up the habit and having your blood pressure monitored regularly.

Low-Dose Aspirin Effective in Preventing Heart Attack and Stroke

Even though one-third of adult Americans take Aspirin in an effort to prevent heart attacks and stroke, the practice was still considered controversial. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released some guidelines that should put the issue to rest. This type of therapy is effective in preventing heart attacks in men between the ages of 45 and 79. Women between the ages of 55 and 79 can take Aspirin to prevent a stroke.

As with all medications, the risk (in this case, stomach bleeding) must be weighed against the possible benefits (preventing a heart attack or stroke). Men under the age of 45 and women who are under the age of 55 who have not had a heart attack or a stroke should not take Aspirin daily as a preventive measure.

Music Helps Restore Sight After Stroke

One of the more troublesome aftereffects of a stroke can be impaired vision. This is due to a condition called “visual neglect.” It causes the patient to have trouble seeing objects that are on the opposite side to the portion of the brain affected by the stroke. If the stroke was on the right side of the brain, the person’s vision will be affected when they try to see objects on the left, and vice versa. This symptom is present, even if the stroke didn’t affect the part of the brain that is associated with the sense of sight. In some cases, the patient may not finish food on one side of their plate or shave only one side of his face because of the vision difficulties this condition creates.

In a study conducted by Imperial College London, stroke patients who had visual neglect were asked to perform tasks under three kinds of conditions: listening to music they enjoyed, listening to music they didn’t like, and in silence. The participants were asked to identify certain colors or a red light from the vision field affected by the vision neglect. When they were asked to perform the task while listening to music they found enjoyable, they had greater success than when they tried to do the same activity in silence or while listening to music they didn’t like. It’s possible that the pleasant experience helps the brain to send signals more efficiently.

Researchers have stated that more work needs to be done in this area to delve into why a pleasant experience, such as listening to music, helps the brain work better following an event like a stroke. They will also want to see whether people with other forms of neuropsychological impairments have the same experience. Other pleasant experiences may help to improve brain functioning as well, and further studies will try to isolate what these are.

Drinking Coffee May Help Reduce Risk of Stroke

If you enjoy a good cup of coffee as part of your daily routine, there is no need to give it up if you are concerned about your risk of stroke. A study that followed a group of 83,000 women for 24 years has found that a moderate intake of this popular beverage will lower your risk of stroke. Notice that I said moderate. Drinking four cups or less on a daily basis will lower your risk of stroke by 20 percent, and filling up your cup with Java should not be done instead of other good lifestyle choices like getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet and leading a smoke-free lifestyle.

Abnormal EKG Reading and Stroke Deaths Linked

The combination of an ischemic stroke and an abnormal heart cycle is not a good one. This set of symptoms means that the patient is more likely to die within three months than someone who does not have any abnormal electrical activity in his or her heart.

An EKG measures the electrical activity in the patient’s heart. When the electrical signals take too long to pass through the upper and lower chambers of the heart, it can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Medications

Ischemic stroke is the most common form of this health problem, and it is caused when the vessels supplying the brain are obstructed. According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 Americans has a stroke (either a new or recurrent one).