ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Obesity May Raise Kids' Allergy Risk
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Music Therapy For Prehistoric Man?
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
For All Their Plusses, Pets Pose a Risk for Falls, Too
Improved Hip Implants Can Last 20 Years
CANCER
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Herb May Counter Liver Damage From Chemo
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
CAREGIVING
Few Hospitals Embracing Electronic Health Record Systems
ER Less Likely to Diagnose Stroke in Younger Folks
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Grapefruit-Heavy Diet Helped Spur Dangerous Clot
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
The Food Irradiation Story
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Greener Neighborhoods Mean Slimmer Children
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
EYE CARE, VISION
Green Tea May Ward Off Eye Disease
Cases of Age-Related Farsightedness to Soar
Autistic Children Make Limited Eye Contact
FITNESS
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
Keep Fire Safety in Mind as You Celebrate
Cocaine Spurs Long-Term Change in Brain Chemistry
More Single Women Are Having Babies
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Swine Flu Closes Three Schools in NYC
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
When It Comes to Toys, Shop Smart, Shop Safe
Folic Acid Reduces Infant Heart Defects
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
MEN'S HEALTH
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
For Baby and Mom Alike, Breast-Feeding May Be Best
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
SENIORS
Common Antioxidant Might Slow Parkinson's
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
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Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack

(HealthDay News) -- People who have had a heart attack may be able to reduce the risk of another attack by 45 percent by taking a purified extract of Chinese red yeast rice, a new study suggests.

What's more, the need for bypass surgery or angioplasty was reduced by one third, and death from cancer was reduced by two-thirds among those taking the extract, called Xuezhikang (XZK).

"A purified form of Chinese red yeast rice significantly reduced the risk of having another heart attack," said lead researcher Dr. David M. Capuzzi, director of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Although the results of the study are encouraging, people shouldn't run out and start taking Chinese red yeast rice to prevent heart attacks, Capuzzi said. He noted that the Chinese red yeast rice in health-food stores isn't pure. "This particular preparation [used in the study] was made by a biotech company. So the purity of the components was assured," he said.

In the study, almost 5,000 people in China who'd had a heart attack were randomly selected to receive capsules containing XZK or a placebo. The XZK capsules contained a combination of lovastatin, lovastatin hydroxyl acid, ergosterol, and other components, the report said.

During five years of follow-up, the researchers found that 10.4 percent of those receiving a placebo had a second heart attack, compared with 5.7 percent of those receiving XZK.

Also, those treated with XZK were 30 percent less likely to die from a cardiovascular problem and 33 percent less likely to die from any cause. And the need heart surgery or angioplasty was reduced by one third, the researchers reported.

The findings are published in the June 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Capuzzi said a drug that includes Chinese red yeast rice may soon be used much the same way as cholesterol-lowering drugs to prevent heart attacks.

One heart expert thinks this study shows that Chinese red yeast rice may be another way to lower cholesterol, thereby preventing heart attack.

"Numerous clinical trials have established that statin medications in conjunction with lifestyle modification reduce the risk of recurrent cardiovascular events and prolong life in patients with prior myocardial infarction [heart attack] and elevated, average, or below average cholesterol levels," said Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center at the University of California, Los Angeles.

This new study may extend these prior findings to the statin medication lovastatin, which is derived from Chinese red yeast, Fonarow said.

"However, it is very important to note, as the authors do in the paper, that the various components of the specific XZK preparation used in this trial have not been adequately studied for its consistency, stability, and individual pharmacologic properties. As such, further study is required," Fonarow said.

Another expert thinks that red yeast rice might confer an extra measure of protection against heart attack.

The extract of red yeast rice contains lovastatin, a drug that has been proven to improve cholesterol profiles and decrease risk of heart attack, said Dr. Byron Lee, an associate professor of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco.

"However, the improvement in the patients on the extract is far beyond what you would expect with lovastatin alone, so maybe there is some other natural component in the extract that is conferring the extra benefit," Lee said. "That would be quite exciting."

Chinese red yeast rice is rice that has been fermented by red yeast. This rice has been used in China for many centuries as a food preservative, food coloring, spice, and in rice wine. Red yeast rice remains a staple in China, Japan and in Asian communities in the United States.

Red yeast rice also has been used as a medicine for more than 1,000 years. It has been used to improve blood circulation and treat indigestion and diarrhea, the study authors said.

-Steven Reinberg

More information

For more on Chinese red yeast rice, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.



SOURCES: David M. Capuzzi, M.D., Ph.D., director, Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program, Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia; Gregg C. Fonarow, M.D., director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, University of California, Los Angeles; Byron Lee, M.D., associate professor, cardiology, University of California, San Francisco; June 15, 2008, American Journal of Cardiology

Last Updated: June 13, 2008

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