Health Highlights: Sept. 9, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Benefits of Statins Underestimated: Review

The benefits of widely-used cholesterol-lowering statin drugs have been underestimated and the potential harms exaggerated, according to a large review published Thursday.

In 2012, about 26 percent of American adults were using statins, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite their widespread use, there have been reports of the drugs causing side effects such as diabetes, muscle pain and weakness, and increased risk of bleeding stroke, CNN reported.

In the review, researchers examined all available evidence on statins and concluded that the benefits far outweigh any potential harms.

For example, daily use of 40 mg of the statin atorvastatin for five years by 10,000 patients would prevent 1,000 people with pre-existing heart conditions from having major cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, strokes and coronary artery bypasses, CNN reported.

It would also prevent 500 cardiovascular events in people who are at increased risk due to factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure, but don’t have a heart condition, according to the review published in The Lancet journal.

The review also said that for each 1 mmol/L reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol achieved with statin therapy, the risk of coronary death, heart attack, stroke and coronary bypass surgery falls 25 percent for each year statins are taken after the first year, CNN reported.

The researchers also assessed the potential harms of statins and concluded that among 10,000 patients taking the drugs, there would be five cases of muscle weakness, 10 bleeding strokes, 50 to 100 new cases of diabetes, and up to 100 cases of other problems such as muscle pain.

“The reality is that the harms associated with statins are tiny,” said review leader Rory Collins, professor of medicine and epidemiology, University of Oxford, U.K., CNN reported.

“There have been problems of people believing the harms are common,” he noted.


Egyptian Strawberries Linked to Hepatitis A Outbreak in 7 States

Frozen strawberries from Egypt have been linked to a foodborne hepatitis A outbreak that’s affected 89 people in seven states, U.S. health officials say.

Thirty-nine of the patients have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

There have been 70 cases in Virginia, 10 in Maryland, 5 in West Virginia, and 1 each in New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Wisconsin.

Investigators traced the outbreak to frozen strawberries from Egypt that were used in smoothies sold before Aug. 8 at Tropical Smoothie Cafe outlets in Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe says it has switched to another strawberry supplier for all its restaurants nationwide.

Hepatitis A is a serious illness that affects the liver. Symptoms include yellow eyes or skin, abdominal pain, or pale stools. Symptoms of hepatitis A infection can take up to 50 days to appear.

Leave a Reply