ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Pharoah's Wine Jar Yields Medicinal Secrets
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Relaxation Tapes or Mozart Lower Blood Pressure
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Safe Toys for Dogs
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
Health Tip: Back Pain in Children
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
CANCER
Method for Treating Cervical Lesions May Pose Pregnancy Risks
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
CAREGIVING
Baby's Sleep Position May Not Affect Severity of Head Flattening
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
Tainted China Formula Caused High Rate of Kidney Stones in Kids
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
Health Tip: After Liposuction
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Acupuncture May Ease Anxiety Over Dental Work
DIABETES
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Fruit Even Healthier Than Thought: Study Shows
Asparagus May Ease Hangover
Fasting on Alternate Days May Make Dieting Easier
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Fish in U.S. Rivers Tainted With Common Medications
Agent Orange Exposure Tied to Prostate Cancer Return
Most Mt. Everest Deaths Occur Near Summit During Descent
EYE CARE, VISION
Protein Might One Day Prevent Blindness
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Clues Found to Brain Mechanism Behind Migraines
FITNESS
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Barefoot Best for Running?
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Winter's Bitter Cold Poses Health Dangers
Research Confirms How Valuable A Healthy Lifestyle Can Be
Go To Work But Skip The Car
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Too-Low Blood Pressure Can Also Bring Danger
Women Who Run May Benefit From Extra Folic Acid
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
MEN'S HEALTH
Countdown to Hair Loss
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Cinnamon Breaks Up Brain Plaques, May Hold Key to Fighting Alzheimer’s
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise Boosts Bone Density in Breast-Feeding Moms
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Breast-Feeding Benefits Moms and Babies
SENIORS
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Natural Therapies for Menopause
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
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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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