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Nice: Aspirin a 'smokescreen' to drugs reducing clots

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has said that aspirin has become a 'smokescreen' to drugs that reduce blood clots.

Dr Campbell Cowan, chair of the Guideline Development Group, said: "Aspirin has been a little bit of a smokescreen to anticoagulation. We now know it is not safer and it's questionable whether it has any effect at all."

Nice: Aspirin a 'smokescreen' to drugs reducing clots. Credit: Daniel Reinhardt/DPA/Press Association Images

But he said that patients should not stop taking aspirin automatically, but instead make an appointment with their GP to discuss their options.

Seven thousand strokes and 2,000 premature deaths could be avoided if people with an irregular heart rhythm were diagnosed and medicated properly, research suggests, as just half of those who should be on anticoagulants are.

New advice for doctors treating heart condition

New guidance released has advised doctors to prescribe newer medications rather than using the "smokescreen" of aspirin to treat a common heart condition.

Aspirin had commonly been used to treat atrial fibrillation (AF), a heart rhythm disorder, which affects 1.5% of the population.

New advice for doctors treating heart condition. Credit: Stephen Kelly/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The most up-to-date research from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) advises doctors not to prescribe it to AF patients but to use instead anticoagulant drugs which prevent blood clots forming.

Around 200,000 patients in England are currently on aspirin for their AF.

Polar bear DNA 'may help fight obesity'

New research suggests polar bears' genes may hold the answer to fighting heart problems linked with obesity in humans.

Analysis of polar bears' DNA suggests their genes have mutated to cope with their high-fat diet. Credit: Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press/Press Association Images

Scientists believe the bears' genetic make-up has adapted so that they can eat a diet containing very high levels of fat without any sign of heart disease.

Lead researcher Professor Rasmus Neilsen, of the University of California at Berkeley, said learning more about the bears' DNA may allow scientists "to modulate human physiology down the line".

Wearable blood monitors 'could warn of heart attacks'

The wearable devices would provide a significant boost to the existing equipment, such as monitors (above), in monitoring a patient's heart. Credit: Tim Ockenden/PA Archive

Scientists have hailed a breakthrough in a bid to develop a wearable blood monitor which could give an early warning of an impending heart attack.

Researchers in the US have identified two biomarkers whose levels drop dramatically within two weeks of a heart attack.

The plasma levels of the two biomarkers, known as microRNAs, seem to disappear from the blood prior to an attack.

Dr Oxana Galenko, who is leading the research in Salt Lake City, said the findings may make it possible to eventually create an "alarm" device that can be worn.


NHS: Statins save 7,000 lives a year in the UK

A 2012 Oxford University study, published in The Lancet medical journal, showed that even very low-risk patients benefited from taking cholesterol-lowering statins.

Rory Collins, professor of medicine at Oxford University, worked on the research and said the number of people who could begin taking statins as a result of the new Nice guidance "would be in the the order" of around five million.

He added: "The evidence is very strong that the treatment is cost-effective at these lower levels. Doctors are now in a position to offer statins on this basis."

He said it was up to individual patients to decide whether they wanted to take statins, based on their risk assessment, but Nice's strategy would "reduce the burden on the health service".

The NHS estimates that statins save 7,000 lives a year in the UK.

Millions more people 'to be prescribed statins'

Millions more people in the UK could be prescribed cholesterol-lowering statins in a bid to prevent more cases of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Millions more people in the UK could be prescribed cholesterol-lowering statins, following new guidance. Credit: Press Association

In draft guidance to the NHS, which is subject to consultation, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) has cut the threshold in half for when doctors should consider prescribing the drugs to patients.

Statins are taken by as many as seven million people in the UK but this could rise dramatically - with experts predicting as many as five million more may have them prescribed.

At present, people with a 20 percent risk of developing cardiovascular disease within 10 years are offered statins, but this is being cut to include all people with a 10 percent risk of developing cardiovascular disease within 10 years.

Scientists say eating nuts linked to lower death risk

Scientists believe that the more nuts people eat, the less likely they are to die over a period of 30 years.

Dr Ying Bao, who co-authored the research from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, said:

In all these analyses, the more nuts people ate, the less likely they were to die over the 30-year follow-up period.

– Dr Ying Bao from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston

Here is a breakdown of some of the results from the analysis:

  • The results from the analysis showed that all-cause death rates were reduced by 11 per cent in people who ate nuts once a week.
  • 13 per cent in those who ate them two to four times a week.
  • 15 per cent when nuts were consumed five to six times a week.
  • Individuals with a daily nut habit were 20 per cent less likely to die over three decades.

Eating nuts 'significantly' reduces health risks

The study found nut-eaters were leaner, less likely to smoke, and more likely to exercise. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/Press Association Images

New research suggests a person's chances of dying from heart disease or cancer is reduced "significantly" by eating nuts, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr Charles Fuchs, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, who led the study said: "The most obvious benefit was a reduction of 29 per cent in deaths from heart disease - the major killer of people in America."

He added that there was also a 11 per cent reduction in the risk of people dying from cancer.

The study also found that nut-eaters tend to be more health conscious than average members of the public.

The findings, drawing on data on almost 120,000 US men and women.

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