Roundup: Daily Aspirin Debate, STDs Skyrocket and Children's Medicine Recalls

Aspirin Therapy Questionable for Those Not at Risk for Heart Disease, Stroke

Aspirin therapy — which refers to taking a low-dose aspirin every day to reduce risk of another heart attack, stroke or other heart problem — is a well known preventive measure. But does a daily aspirin help those without any known risk factor?

The risks associated with aspirin therapy — particularly internal bleeding — are not likely worth the potential benefits for those without heart or stroke risk factors, according to new research presented recently at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich, Germany. The findings of the latest studies on low-dose aspirin represent the largest studies to test the effectiveness of the aspirin-as-blood-thinner treatment in people who don’t yet have heart disease or a blood vessel-related problem.

In one of the studies, researchers gave aspirin or dummy pills to 12,546 people who were thought to have a moderate risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke within a decade because of other health issues. After five years, 4 percent of each group had suffered a heart problem — far fewer than expected, suggesting these people were actually at low risk, not moderate risk. Other medicines they were taking to lower blood pressure and cholesterol may have cut their heart risk so much that aspirin had little chance of playing an important role, says the study leader, J. Michael Gaziano, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

One percent of the aspirin takers in the study suffered from stomach or intestinal bleeding, mostly mild— twice as many as those on the fake pills. Aspirin users also had more nosebleeds, indigestion, reflux or stomach pain. Bayer sponsored the study, which was published by the journal Lancet.

In a separate study, Oxford researchers in England randomly assigned 15,480 adults with type 1 or 2 diabetes — but otherwise in good health and with no history of heart problems — to take either aspirin, 1 gram of fish oil supplement, both substances, or dummy pills every day. After more than seven years,, there were fewer heart problems among aspirin users but more cases of serious bleeding.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of medical experts, recommends initiating low-dose aspirin use for the primary prevention of heart disease (CVD) and colorectal cancer in adults aged 50 to 59 years who have a 10 percent or greater 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) — and are not at increased risk for bleeding. You would need to consult with your physician to determine your 10-year risk for CVD.

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Diagnosed Cases of STDs in U.S. Set New High, Says CDC 

Cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDS) are on the rise in the U.S., according to new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Nearly 2.3 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were diagnosed in this county in 2017, surpassing the record set in 2016 by more than 200,000, CDC researchers said this week.

“We are sliding backward,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “It is evident the systems that identify, treat, and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point.”

Here’s the breakdown from the CDC:

Gonorrhea diagnoses increased 67 percent overall (from 333,004 to 555,608 cases according to preliminary 2017 data) and nearly doubled among men (from 169,130 to 322,169). Increases in diagnoses among women — and the speed with which they are increasing — are also concerning, with cases going up for the third year in a row (from 197,499 to 232,587).

Primary and secondary syphilis diagnoses increased 76 percent (from 17,375 to 30,644 cases). Primary and secondary syphilis are the most infectious stages of the disease.

Chlamydia remained the most common condition reported to CDC. More than 1.7 million cases were diagnosed in 2017, with 45 percent among 15- to 24-year-old females.

The CDC said in a statement that what is needed to help reverse this troubling trend is a “renewed commitment from health care providers — who are encouraged to make STD screening and timely treatment a standard part of medical care, especially for the populations most affected.”

The threat of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is of major concern to the CDC. If gonorrhea becomes resistant to all combinations of antibiotics, the disease could become untreatable.

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Several Children’s Medicines Recalled

Pfizer has recalled one of its children’s Advil products due to mismatched dosing instructions printed on the measuring cups and packaging.  The measuring cup packaged with 4-ounce bottle of bubble-gum flavored liquid children’s Advil was marked in teaspoons, while the instructions on the label were written in milliliters.

The mismatch poses a threat of children overdosing from taking wrong dosages the medicine, Pfizer said. The recall affects one lot, R511229, that was distributed throughout the country between May and June. Bottles marked with an expiration date of November 2020, UPC code 3-0573-0207-30-0 and NDC code 0573-0207-30 should be thrown away, and retailers should pull it from shelves, Pfizer says.

In another recall, dozens of Dr. King’s children’s medicines were recalled last week due to possible microbial contamination.  King Bio Inc., manufacturer of the homeopathic medications, said a small portion of its over-the-counter children’s medicines, including those used to relieve cough, fever, stomach aches, nosebleeds and earaches, tested positive for microbial contamination, which “could cause infections that may require medical intervention.”

After further investigation, the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) issued a warning to consumers to stop using and dispose of the recalled Dr. King’s products. Subsequently, King Bio voluntarily recalled hundred of its products and supplements, including drugs for pets. If consumed, humans and pets could contract a “life-threatening” infection that could “require immediate, critical medical attention.”

A full list of the recalled Dr. King’s medications is posted on the company’s website.

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