Study: Some heart patients undoing drug benefits

March 12, 2009 By MARIA CHENG , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- European heart patients are taking more medication than ever before to lower their blood pressure and cholesterol, but bad habits such as overeating and smoking are undermining the drugs, a new study says. Despite big increases in heart patients on medication, most still have high blood pressure and nearly half have high cholesterol.

Researchers interviewed more than 8,500 in eight countries. Patients were on average about 60 years old, and had a history of problems.

The experts found that more young patients are smoking, and more patients are fatter and diabetic compared with similar groups from 12 years ago.

The study was published Friday in the medical journal, .

"In terms of the lifestyles of patients with , everything is moving in the wrong direction," said Dr. David Wood, one of the paper's authors and a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Imperial College in London.

The study was supported by the European Society of and paid for by pharmaceutical companies that make heart drugs.

Researchers also found that the numbers of patients taking drugs to lower their cholesterol was seven times higher in 2006-2007 than in 1995-1996. About 43 percent of patients still had .

And while more people now take medications to lower their , Wood said that hadn't made any difference. "The response of physicians is just to give more and more drugs, but what we need is a comprehensive lifestyle program."

Experts said trends were similar in the United States.

"Even if we advise patients to lose weight, they have to walk out the door and do that themselves," said Dr. Alfred Bove, incoming president of the American College of Cardiology.

Bove, who was not linked to the study, said more patients were now being treated for high blood pressure, but millions were unaware they even had a problem.

In the last decade, deaths due to heart disease have dropped by about 30 percent in the United States and 45 percent in Britain. But the rates are leveling off, and experts worry the surge in obesity and diabetes will reverse previous successes.

Even with advances such as medications, heart stents and angioplasties, Dr. Daniel Jones, a past president of the American Heart Association, said that fighting heart disease "is like swimming upstream."

Jones, who was not connected to the Lancet study, warned that the widespread use of heart drugs has masked the effects of the obesity epidemic and that it would be even worse without them.

"We know that giving medications will reduce patients' risk, but we shouldn't put all our eggs in that one basket," he said. "We need to work harder on preventing problems at their root."

--

On the Net:

http://www.lancet.com

http://www.americanheart.org

http://www.acc.org

http://www.escardio.org

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Glucocorticoids offer long-term benefits for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

November 22, 2017
Glucocorticoids, a class of steroid hormone medications often prescribed to patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), offer long-term benefits for this disease, including longer preservation of muscle strength and ...

Baby-boomers and millennials more afflicted by the opioid epidemic

November 21, 2017
Baby-boomers, those born between 1947 and 1964, experienced an excess risk of prescription opioid overdose death and heroin overdose death, according to latest research at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. ...

Sensor-equipped pill raises technological, ethical questions

November 17, 2017
The first drug with a sensor embedded in a pill that alerts doctors when patients have taken their medications was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, raiding issues involving privacy, cost, and whether patients ...

New painkillers reduce overdose risk

November 16, 2017
Scientists on the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have developed new opioid pain relievers that reduce pain on par with morphine but do not slow or stop breathing—the cause of opiate overdose.

Separating side effects could hold key for safer opioids

November 16, 2017
Opioid pain relievers can be extremely effective in relieving pain, but can carry a high risk of addiction and ultimately overdose when breathing is suppressed and stops. Scientists have discovered a way to separate these ...

US regulators approve first digital pill to track patients

November 14, 2017
U.S. regulators have approved the first drug with a sensor that alerts doctors when the medication has been taken, offering a new way of monitoring patients but also raising privacy concerns.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.