Roundup: Early Menopause & Heart Risks; ‘Drug Take Back Day’; and Timing of Blood Pressure Meds

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October 25, 2019


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Menopause Before Age 50 Linked to Higher Risk of Heart Disease, Researchers Say

Early menopause — which affect women before the age of 50 — could increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.

The study’s authors said that women who reached menopause when they were aged 40 to 44 were 40 percent more likely to have a “non-fatal cardiovascular” issue, such as angina, a heart attack or stroke, before age 60, compared to women who reached menopause at age 50 or 51.

Menopause is when a woman has not had a menstrual period for 12 months. Menopause occurs, on average, at age 51.

Reaching menopause at 45 to 49 was linked to a 17 percent increased heart disease risk, researchers found. The findings, published in the Lancet: Public Health, are based on a review of data from 15 studies, involving 301,438 women in the United States, Britain, Australia, Japan and Scandinavia.

“Early or premature menopause might be considered an important factor in risk stratification of cardiovascular disease for women,” the study states. “Preventive measures should consider this association as part of active management of cardiovascular disease risk factors for women.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, accounting for 1 in 5 deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Heart Association (AHA) stresses that menopause does not cause cardiovascular disease. However, certain risk factors increase around the time of menopause.

Morever, a high-fat diet, smoking or other unhealthy habits over the years can take their tool at around that time of life for women, the AHA statesd. At the time of menopause, blood pressure tends to go up, as do levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” type) and triglycerides. The AHA also says that lower levels of the natural horomone estrogen, a normal side effect of menopause, may also play a role in developing heart disease.

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DEA Adds Vaping Devices to Items Accepted on ‘Drug Take Back Day’

For the first time, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will accept vaping devices and e-cigarette cartridges at any of its drop-off locations during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which is tomorrow, Oct. 26.

The DEA cited concerns across the United States “over illnesses and death caused by vaping and the high youth vaping initiation rates” as factors in its decision to accept vaping products.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which is held twice a year in April and October, has received growing public support since its inception in 2010. The public is urged to turn in prescription drugs that are not being used or have expired. Studies have found that most abused prescription drugs were gotten from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs.

The DEA cannot accept vaping devices containing lithium ion batteries, however. Anyone who can’t remove a battery in a vaping device is encouraged to consult with stores that recycle lithium ion batteries.

“The DEA encourages individuals to help make the community safer by removing unwanted prescription medications from their homes,” the agency said in a statement. “This semi-annual event is a chance to do that anonymously and safely.”

The public can find a nearby collection site at www.DEATakeBack.com or by calling 800-882-9539.

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Study: Morning May Not Be Best Time for Taking Blood Pressure Meds

When should you take your medicine to control high blood pressure? The answer: Whatever time your doctor tells you.

However, the findings of a new study out of Europe is contradicting what most doctors tell their patients, which is to take their meds in the morning. Blood pressure medication may provide a greater benefit if taken at night, rather than in the morning, according to research published Tuesday in the European Heart Journal.

The study of more than 19,000 high blood pressure patients concluded medication that works overnight, when they are asleep, reduces the risk of heart-related death and disease nearly in half.

Compared with the patients who took their pills in the morning, those who take them at night had a more than 40 percent lower risk of suffering a heart attack, heart failure, a stroke or requiring procedures to open clogged coronary arteries.

Nonetheless, researchers urged patients with high blood pressure to speak with their doctors before making any changes to their blood pressure medication timetables.

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