ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
The Zen Way to Pain Relief
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Tequila Plant May Help Fight Bone Loss
Breast-feeding Might Shield Women From Rheumatoid Arthritis
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
CANCER
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
Newborn Screenings Now Required Across U.S.
Caregivers Face Multiple Strains Tending Older Parents
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
An Oral Approach to Heart Disease
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Drug May Not Help Diabetes-Related Eye Damage
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
Chamomile Tea May Ward Off Diabetes Damage
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Lots Of Vegetables, Olive Oil May Extend Life
Eating Vegan or Raw-Vegan at Regular Restaurants
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Chemicals in Carpets, Non-Stick Pans Tied to Thyroid Disease
Researchers ID Genetic Markers for Esophageal Cancer
Old-Growth Forests Dying Off in U.S. West
EYE CARE, VISION
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
Glaucoma Associated With Reading Impairments in Elderly
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
FITNESS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
Good Warm-Ups Could Halve Sports Injuries
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
GENERAL HEALTH
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Swine Flu Fatality Rate a 'Little Bit' Higher Than That of Seasonal Flu
Healthy Living Adds Years to Life
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Men, Not Women
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Babies Cared For In Others Homes Might Become Heavy Toddlers
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Positive Brain Changes Seen After Body-Mind Meditation
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Before Conceiving, Take Folic Acid for One Full Year
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
SENIORS
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
Protein Deposits May Show Up Before Memory Problems Occur, Study Says
Fitness Fades Fast After 45
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Simple Carbs Pose Heart Risk for Women
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Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- Preliminary research suggests people who suffered fatal cardiac arrest were more likely to have taken antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs than those who survived heart attacks.

But the findings haven't been confirmed elsewhere, and it's not clear whether the medications directly cause any problems. Those who take the drugs could have other medical issues that contribute to a higher death rate, the researchers noted.

"It is too early to give concrete advice" to patients who take the drugs, said study author Dr. Jussi Honkola, a researcher at the University of Oulu in Finland. "We need further studies about this possible relationship."

In other words, there's no indication that anyone needs to change the drugs that they take for conditions such as depression and anxiety.

At issue is sudden cardiac death -- when someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly, often within minutes, after the heart stops functioning properly. Heart attacks can lead to cardiac arrest and then sudden cardiac death. But heart attacks are technically something else -- the death of heart tissue because blood flow is disrupted.

A variety of conditions can cause sudden cardiac death, including the clogging of arteries caused by coronary heart disease.

And, "despite many years of intensive research we still don't know how to identify people who are at risk for sudden cardiac death," Honkola said.

In the new study, the Finnish researchers examined the medications taken by 321 victims of cardiac death compared with those taken by 609 patients who survived heart attacks.

The findings were to be released Thursday at the Heart Rhythm Society's annual meeting, in Boston.

The study doesn't reveal specifically which psychiatric drugs were examined, but it does say that those who died of cardiac death were more likely to have taken one of three types.

Almost 11 percent of those who suffered sudden cardiac death took antipsychotics, compared to 1.4 percent of those who survived heart attacks. The numbers for antidepressants were 7.4 percent and 3 percent, respectively, and 18.4 percent and 5 percent for benzodiazepines, which include drugs such as Xanax.

Those who survived heart attacks were more likely to take aspirin and the heart drugs known as beta blockers.

The findings "are interesting, even provocative, but much more work remains to be done in order to have a high degree of confidence in the results," said Dr. Robert A. Harrington, director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C.

"For now, society should insist upon randomized clinical trials during and after the drug approval process that test therapies in patients who will likely take the drugs in 'real life,'" Harrington said.

That means those who take part in tests of drugs represent those who ultimately take them when it comes to their medical conditions and the other drugs that they're taking, he explained.

More information

Learn more about sudden cardiac death from the American Heart Association.



SOURCES: Jussi Honkola, M.D., researcher, University of Oulu, Finland; Robert A. Harrington, M.D., professor, medicine, Division of Cardiology, and director, Duke Clinical Research Institute, Durham, N.C.; May 14, 2009, presentation, Heart Rhythm Society annual meeting, Boston

Last Updated: May 14, 2009

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