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ERs May Need to Rethink Opioid Prescription Practices

Posted 3 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, May 19, 2017 – People in U.S. emergency rooms may receive unnecessary opioid painkiller prescriptions for minor injuries such as a sprained ankle, a new study finds. This practice – which varies widely depending on what area of the country you're treated in – potentially boosts the risk that patients will become dependent on the drugs. "The substantial variation in prescribing patterns of such extremely addictive medications for minor injuries results in many thousands of pills entering the community and places patients at an increased risk of continued use and potentially addiction," said lead author Dr. M. Kit Delgado. He's an assistant professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine. "It's vital that we identify and understand the root causes of this growing issue," Delgado said in a school news release. The ... Read more

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It's Often Family to the Rescue During Opioid ODs

Posted 6 days ago by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, May 17, 2017 – The tragic scenario has become far too familiar: A mother, a father or a sibling discovers the lifeless body of a loved one who has overdosed on opioids. But a new study suggests that family members may be able to play a lifesaving role in some of these instances, mostly because of increased access to an antidote that can reverse an otherwise deadly ending. Sometimes, even the victims can rescue themselves from a potentially fatal overdose. Researchers in Massachusetts looked at people who underwent training in using the antidote – known as naloxone (Narcan, Evzio) – and found that family members used it in about 20 percent of slightly over 4,000 rescue attempts. Almost all rescue attempts were successful. "Individuals who use opioids are likely to use naloxone on both friends and family" who overdose, explained study author Dr. Sarah Bagley, an assistant ... Read more

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Blood Thinners May Prevent Dementia in Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Posted 9 days ago by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, May 12, 2017 – Blood thinners are often prescribed to prevent strokes in people with the abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation. But a new study suggests these drugs may also help keep dementia at bay. The researchers said that the key is to start blood thinners, such as warfarin, soon after atrial fibrillation is diagnosed. That's true even for people at low risk of a stroke who wouldn't normally be given blood thinners. "We found that people who are on warfarin – the most common blood thinner used to prevent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation – experienced very low rates of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease," said lead researcher Dr. T. Jared Bunch. He's director of heart rhythm research at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Murray, Utah. Atrial fibrillation is a common heart abnormality that affects nearly 3 million American adults. ... Read more

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High Rates of Hepatitis C in Pregnancy Mirror Opioid Epidemic: CDC

Posted 11 days ago by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, May 11, 2017 – Chalk up another potential consequence of the U.S. opioid epidemic: The prevalence of hepatitis C infections among pregnant women nearly doubled between 2009 and 2014, U.S. health officials report. Hepatitis C – which is caused most often by injection drug use – rose 89 percent nationwide among pregnant women. Increases were most notable in West Virginia and rural counties in Tennessee, areas hard-hit by the heroin and prescription painkiller epidemic, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. Nationwide, 35 infants a day were exposed to the contagious liver disease, on average, study authors said. "We have seen a dramatic increase in opioid use in pregnancy and in the number of infants having drug withdrawal," said report author Dr. Stephen Patrick, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. "Taken together, this suggests that ... Read more

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Energy Drinks May Make Rare Heart Condition More Dangerous

Posted 13 days ago by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, May 9, 2017 – Energy drinks can be deadly for people with a certain genetic heart condition, a small study warns. Called long QT syndrome (LQTS), the condition affects 1 in 2,000 people and can cause a rapid, irregular heartbeat that can sometimes be fatal. "The potential cardiovascular risk of energy drinks continues to emerge as an important public health issue," said lead investigator Christopher Semsarian, a professor at the University of Sydney in Australia. "The population most at risk is teenagers and young adults, representing the population these drinks are most heavily marketed towards. Since energy drinks are widely available to all ages and over the counter, it is important that cardiovascular effects of these drinks are investigated," he added. Previous research has shown that energy drinks can cause serious heart problems in people without genetic heart disease, ... Read more

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Babies Born Addicted to Opioids Often Struggle With Learning

Posted 20 days ago by Drugs.com

WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2017 – Babies exposed to opioid painkillers in the womb are more likely to need special education services by the time they reach school age, a new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found. Many infants born with an addiction to opioids – a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) – wind up lagging behind other children in school, said Dr. Mary-Margaret Fill. She's a CDC officer assigned to the Tennessee Department of Health. Fill and her colleagues found that, compared with kids without the syndrome, Tennessee children born with NAS were: 44 percent more likely to be referred for evaluation of potential developmental delays. 36 percent more likely to meet their state's criteria for educational disability. 37 percent more likely to receive help with educational and developmental difficulties. "These children were more likely to have ... Read more

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Opioid Use by Iraq, Afghanistan War Vets Mirrors Rest of U.S.: Study

Posted 28 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, April 27, 2017 – U.S. veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars use opioid painkillers at rates similar to that of the general population, a new study finds. Researchers analyzed pharmacy claims data from the U.S. Veterans Health Administration. They found that 23 percent of these combat veterans were prescribed an opioid in a given year. About two-thirds took them for a short time; the rest took them for longer periods. "We found that use of opioids among veterans was characterized by use of moderate doses prescribed for fairly long periods of time," study co-author Teresa Hudson said. Hudson is a research scientist with the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. "However, chronic use among this group of veterans appeared to be lower than that of veterans who served in other time periods," Hudson added in a RTI ... Read more

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Drugs Now Involved in More Fatal U.S. Crashes Than Alcohol Alone

Posted 28 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, April 27, 2017 – In vehicle crashes that claim American lives, illicit drugs are now more likely to have played a role than the use of alcohol on its own, a new report says. The trend comes as more states legalize marijuana and the nation faces a troubling rise in opioid abuse and drug overdose deaths, the researchers noted. In 2015, drugs were detected in 43 percent of drivers who suffered fatal injuries, a higher percentage than cases involving alcohol alone, the report found. The report was by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org). "As drunk driving has declined, drugged driving has increased dramatically. And many of today's impaired drivers are combining two or more substances, which has a multiplicative effect on driver impairment," Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of ... Read more

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Opioid-Related Deaths Might Be Underestimated: CDC

Posted 25 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

TUESDAY, April 25, 2017 – America's prescription drug abuse epidemic may be even more deadly than expected, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests. Some opioid-related deaths may be missed when people die from pneumonia and other infectious diseases spurred on by drug abuse. Their death certificates may only list the infection as the cause of their demise, explained CDC field officer Victoria Hall. That means a number of drug-related deaths are not being counted, since surveillance systems mainly track overdose deaths. "It does seem like it is almost an iceberg of an epidemic," Hall said. "We already know that it's bad, and while my research can't speak to what percent we are underestimating, we know we are missing some cases." More than half of a series of drug-related unexplained deaths in Minnesota between 2006 and 2015 listed pneumonia as the ... Read more

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Common Food Nutrient Tied to Risky Blood Clotting

Posted 25 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, April 24, 2017 – A nutrient in meat and eggs may conspire with gut bacteria to make the blood more prone to clotting, a small study suggests. The nutrient is called choline. Researchers found that when they gave 18 healthy volunteers choline supplements, it boosted their production of a chemical called TMAO. That, in turn, increased their blood cells' tendency to clot. But the researchers also found that aspirin might reduce that risk. TMAO is short for trimethylamine N-oxide. It's produced when gut bacteria digest choline and certain other substances. Past studies have linked higher TMAO levels in the blood to heightened risks of blood clots, heart attack and stroke, said Dr. Stanley Hazen, the senior researcher on the new study. These findings, he said, give the first direct evidence that choline revs up TMAO production in the human gut, which then makes platelets (a type of ... Read more

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FDA Medwatch Alert: Codeine and Tramadol Medicines: Drug Safety Communication - Restricting Use in Children, Recommending Against Use in Breastfeeding Women

Posted 20 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

ISSUE: FDA is restricting the use of codeine and tramadol medicines in children. These medicines carry serious risks, including slowed or difficult breathing and death, which appear to be a greater risk in children younger than 12 years, and should not be used in these children. These medicines should also be limited in some older children. Single-ingredient codeine and all tramadol-containing products are FDA-approved only for use in adults. FDA is also recommending against the use of codeine and tramadol medicines in breastfeeding mothers due to possible harm to their infants. As a result, FDA is requiring several changes to the labels of all prescription medicines containing these drugs. These new actions further limit the use of these medicines beyond the 2013 FDA restriction of codeine use in children younger than 18 years to treat pain after surgery to remove the tonsils and/or ... Read more

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Don't Give Kids Medicines With Codeine, Tramadol: FDA

Posted 20 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

THURSDAY, April 20, 2017 – Parents shouldn't give their children any medications containing the narcotics codeine or tramadol, because they can cause life-threatening breathing problems, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday. Warning labels on medications with codeine or tramadol will be strengthened to reflect these potential dangers, the FDA said in a statement. Nursing mothers should also avoid using these drugs, since they can pass unsafe levels of opioids to their babies through their breast milk, the agency said. Children's bodies tend to process opioids more quickly than most adults, due to their smaller size. That can cause the level of narcotics in their bloodstream to rise too high and too quickly, risking overdose, the agency explained. Tramadol is a prescription drug that is only approved for adults to treat pain, the agency noted. Codeine products are ... Read more

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Rehab Services Lacking in States Hit Hard by Opioids

Posted 7 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

FRIDAY, April 7, 2017 – Opioid treatment programs for low-income Americans are in short supply in areas where they're needed the most, a new study contends. Lack of affordable access is particularly apparent across the Southeast, researchers said. The finding follows the Trump Administration's announcement last week that it would be establishing a new commission to focus on the nation's growing opioid epidemic. Opioid medications include oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicoprofen), codeine, morphine and others. Heroin is also a potent opioid. "In the midst of an escalating opioid epidemic, treatment in opioid treatment programs are almost nonexistent for low-income Americans – (meaning) Medicaid enrollees – in a majority of the country," said study lead author Amanda Abraham. She's an assistant professor of public administration and policy at the University of Georgia. ... Read more

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Keys to Heart Disease Care: Communication and Trust

Posted 4 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, April 3, 2017 – People with heart disease may fare better when they feel they can trust and talk to their doctor, two new studies suggest. In one study, researchers found that heart patients who thought their doctors were good communicators were more likely to take aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs. They were also less likely to land in the ER. In the other study, patients were more apt to take their blood pressure medication if they generally trusted the medical profession. It's no secret that communication and trust are important in any doctor-patient relationship, according to Dr. Victor Okunrintemi, the lead researcher on the communication study. What's not clear is how those things affect heart patients' health, said Okunrintemi, who is based at Baptist Health South Florida in Miami. The new findings, he said, don't prove that doctors can keep their patients out of ... Read more

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Can Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Lower Cancer Death Risk?

Posted 4 Apr 2017 by Drugs.com

MONDAY, April 3, 2017 – Millions of Americans take low-dose aspirin every day for heart health. In doing so, they may also slightly lower their risk of dying from several cancers, a large new study suggests. Researchers found that among more than 130,000 U.S. adults, those who regularly used aspirin were 7 percent to 11 percent less likely to die of cancer over the next few decades. The risks of dying from colon, breast, prostate and – for men – lung cancer were all lower among regular aspirin users, compared to non-users, the findings showed. The findings add to evidence that aspirin has cancer-fighting abilities, the researchers said. But they also stressed that people should not start popping a daily aspirin in the hopes of avoiding cancer. There is strong evidence, from research in general, that low-dose aspirin may lower the risk of colon cancer, said Dr. Ernest Hawk, a ... Read more

Related support groups: Cancer, Aspirin, Excedrin, Colorectal Cancer, Aggrenox, Alka-Seltzer, Fiorinal, Excedrin Migraine, Arthritis Pain, Ecotrin, Fiorinal with Codeine, Arthritis Pain Formula, Bayer Aspirin, Soma Compound, Norgesic, Excedrin Extra Strength, Norgesic Forte, Percodan, Anacin, Levacet

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