October 1, 2011

Free Cholesterol Test, Blood Pressure Check and Diabetes Screening

Posted in heart disease, Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips, Helpful Heart Links tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:32 am by keepyourhearthealthy

Kroger logo

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In this tough economy Kroger hopes to attract more customers by offering Free Health Screenings at participating pharmacies.  Heart disease patients know the importance of annual cholesterol checks but they can get quite costly for those without health insurance.  This new Health Screening option can provide a little relief in the expense of maintaining a healthy heart.

Kroger grocery stores throughout the U.S. are advertising these free Health Screenings which include:

  • Cholesterol Check (reportedly includes Total Cholesterol, LDL, Triglycerides and HDL)
  • Blood Pressure Check
  • Diabetes Screening
  • Body Mass Index

A licensed pharmacist performs the tests and discusses the results with you.  Most likely you will be given a copy of your test results so that you can bring them to your doctor for review.  Heart disease patients experiencing financial stress can use this free screening as their annual cholesterol test.  As long as you bring the results to your doctor and the numbers are at “heart disease goal,” there should be no need to obtain a second test.  If there are changes made to your cholesterol medication, a second test will need to be done to verify the medicine is working.

People who want to take advantage of this opportunity need to make an appointment by calling the national Kroger number 1-877-444-9689.  It is important to see a cardiologist at least once a year if you have heart disease so please do not use this as a substitute for your yearly heart check-up.  Find more great tips about cutting costs and maintaining a healthy heart in the book What To Do When You Have Heart Disease.

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November 21, 2010

New Cholesterol Drug Increases HDL and Lowers LDL

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips tagged , , , , , , , at 2:34 am by keepyourhearthealthy

 

photo by Suat Eman

For several years now, the drug companies have been trying to discover the ultimate drug to increase HDL.

 

It’s just not that easy to increase your good cholesterol (HDL) with prescription drugs.  Right now, niacin is the best way to increase HDL but it has the significant drawback of skin flushing.  People who take niacin at first feel very hot and their skin may turn red like a temporary sunburn.

Given all the problems with niacin, a new class of drugs to increase HDL have been attempted on several occasions.  One of these new drugs has finally passed the phase 3 trials and may actually go on to FDA approval in the near future.  Anacetrapib is being manufactured and tested by Merck for treating dyslipidemia (high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol).  The studies so far are quite promising but many are weary.  Pfizer had a similar drug being tested in the same class of drugs but Pfizer’s drug was taken out of testing due to significant problems.

Cardiologists all over would love to have a better option for treating low HDL.  Right now though, we can only wait and see how the remaining trials work out for this promising new drug!

November 10, 2010

How Low Should Your LDL Go?

Posted in New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:56 am by keepyourhearthealthy

An example of a heart attack, which can occur ...

Image via Wikipedia

Over the past 10 to 20 years, there has been much debate over how low a person’s cholesterol should go.  The latest study is suggesting we should go even lower than the lowest recommended number so we can prevent more heart attacks.

Several years ago, the guidelines for cholesterol treatment in patients with heart disease changed.  For quite some time, the recommendation had been to treat LDL to less than 100.  The guidelines were then changed to allow cardiologists the “option” of more aggressive treatment to less than 70.  Many studies have proven that higher doses of statins results in lower LDL and fewer heart attacks.

Researchers in the UK and Australia say that we should now consider lowering LDL to less than 50 based on their new research.  They reviewed 26 different trials and found a 22% risk reduction in major vascular events (ie. heart attacks and strokes) when patients were given high dose statins and treated to lower LDL numbers.  Their report also showed that lowering LDL to less than 50 was safe for people at high risk of cardiovascular events.

One of the other points the researchers discussed in their report includes which statins are best to use.  Predictably, the more expensive statins are the most potent such as Lipitor and Crestor (hence, you get what you pay for!).  The researchers discourage the use of the weak statins such as Pravachol (pravastatin) or Zocor (simvastatin).  They did mention that Zocor and Pravachol might be used together for better results but most cardiologists shy away from prescribing 2 statins at the same time.  This method is highly unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Overall, this study brings up the question one more time of how low we should be treating LDL in heart patients.

In some cardiology practices, they may be very conservative in their use of potent statins.  These types of cardiologists will probably resist any changes to the current guidelines.  Other cardiology practices may welcome a lower LDL target so they can give more appropriate, potent statin therapy to the patients at greatest risk.  Patients in general do not like increases in statins due to the possible side effect of muscle aches.  However, if more patients understand the significant benefits of drugs like Lipitor and Zocor they are more likely to tolerate the changes.  It will be interesting to see what, if any, changes this new study will bring about in the near future.

September 19, 2010

Is It Time To Throw Away The Non-Stick Pans?

Posted in Heart Disease in the News, Heart disease tips, New Heart Studies tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:55 pm by keepyourhearthealthy

FreeDigitalPhotos

Many major news networks this week reported a new study that showed an association between a chemical used in non-stick pans and higher cholesterol levels in children.

The study looked at approximately 12,000 children in the Ohio River Valley area because these children drink water with high amounts of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid).  PFOA is a “water repellant” chemical found in many parts of our environment including tap water, microwave popcorn bags, non-stick pans, wood sealants, carpet care liquids, dental floss and much more.

While PFOA is known to be toxic and carcinogenic in animals, research has not officially proven that it is harmful to humans as well.  There are lawsuits against PFOA manufacturers currently for the possibility of harm against humans in areas with high levels surrounding the manufacturing plants.  This latest study has brought up another possible harmful side effect of increased cholesterol.  However, it should be noted that the children with higher levels of PFOA from drinking tap water had less than a 4 point increase in their LDL compared to the children with lower PFOA. In other words, a child with high PFOA might have had an LDL of 120 compared to a child of low PFOA who might have had an LDL of 116.

For heart disease patients, getting your LDL to less than 100 and even less than 70 is vital.  If you are needing an extra boost to lower your cholesterol and you have concerns about PFOA, you could consider filtering your drinking water, avoiding non-stick pans, quitting microwave popcorn and use only organic cleaners to clean your carpets.  The risk right now is really quite small but more studies may prove otherwise!