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Health Tips ... from UPI

By LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Senior Science Writer   |   Jan. 30, 2004 at 9:00 AM   |   Comments

LEG PATIENTS CAN BENEFIT FROM HEART DRUG

A study shows leg bypass surgery patients can benefit from drugs used to clear out heart arteries and prevent heart attacks. Yet, the study shows, only about half of such patients get the medications. The study indicates millions of other patients with less severe leg artery blockages should get a full-body cardiovascular checkup, say the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center researchers. They report the drugs can help patients with painful blockages in leg blood vessels. The results suggest vascular surgeons should ensure their patients are receiving appropriate drugs before performing leg bypass surgery to reroute blood flow around a severely clogged leg artery, says lead author and vascular surgeon Dr. Peter Henke. "Patients who were taking statins before their leg bypass operation had better patency, or openness, of their bypass graft, and a lower risk of leg amputation after surgery," he notes. "Those taking ACE inhibitors had a lower risk of dying after the operation."


BEADS FOR FAMILY PLANNING

Georgetown University's Institute for Reproductive Health has developed CycleBeads and the Standard Days Method for natural family planning. The system lets a woman know on which days pregnancy is and is not likely. The method can be used to both prevent and procure pregnancy, its developer says. On a color-coded strand of CycleBeads, each bead represents a day of the menstrual cycle, and the color helps a woman determine if she is likely to be fertile that day, says Victoria Jennings, institute director. She says studies show the Standard Days Method to be more than 95 percent effective at preventing pregnancy by indicating the most fertile days. The CycleBeads can help women know on which days unprotected intercourse is most likely to lead to pregnancy. "Clearly there is a need for a simpler, easier method of natural family planning -- and that is where the Standard Days Method and CycleBeads can really fill a void," says Jennings, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and developer of the method.


DRUG SHOWS EFFECTIVENESS AGAINST ASTHMA ATTACKS

Scientists say the asthma drug Xopenex (levalbuterol) can ease symptoms of an asthma attack faster than the standard treatment. The study, published in the American Journal of American Medicine, shows patients receiving Xopenex left the hospital sooner than those getting the standard generic drug racemic albuterol. The study of 91 ER patients, conducted at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit by Dr. Richard Nowak, vice chair of emergency medicine, evaluated the safety and effectivenss of Xopenex for acute asthma. The incidence of asthma, particularly among inner city residents, is increasing, Nowak notes, and patients with asthma who are not treated properly re-enter the hospital significantly sooner than those given appropriate therapies.


FIRST TB VACCINE TRIAL IN 60 YEARS BEGINS

Researchers are beginning human safety testing of a tuberculosis vaccine, the first such U.S. trial in 60 years. The new vaccine is made with several proteins from the bacterium that causes the lung disorder that kills 2 million people each year. The trial is being conducted by the Seattle biotechnology company Corixa and vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals of Belgium. "This is the first recombinant tuberculosis vaccine to reach human trials in the United States," says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which funded the research. "Indeed, this is the first new TB vaccine to be tested in our country in more than 60 years." The trial will enroll 20 volunteers to assess the vaccine's safety and the dosage that elicits the strongest anti-TB immune response. The currently available TB vaccine, called BCG, offers some protection against the form of the disease most often contracted by very young children, but its effectiveness wears off over time. Also, BCG is not very effective against pulmonary TB, the most contagious form of the disease, Fauci says.


(EDITORS: For more information about LEG, contact Kara Gavin at (734) 764-2220. For BEADS, Cindy Aisen at (317) 843-2276 or cfa3@georgetown.edu. For ASTHMA, Chris Seger at (212) 299-8888. For TB, Anne Oplinger at (301) 402-1663 or aoplinger@niaid.nih.gov)

© 2004 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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