ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
Taking the Mystery Out of Hypnotherapy
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Study Examines How Rheumatoid Arthritis Destroys Bone
Stem Cells Might Treat Tough Fractures
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
CANCER
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Higher Vitamin D Intake Could Cut Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
Medication Errors Could Be Cut: Experts
Depression, PTSD Common Among Lung Transplant Patient Caregivers
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Health Tip: Are You Anemic?
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
DENTAL, ORAL
Study Links Osteoporosis Drugs to Jaw Trouble
A Sweet Way to Shield Baby's Teeth
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
DIET, NUTRITION
Brown Rice Tied to Better Heart Health in Study
The Raw Food Diet
Heart Disease May Be Prevented By Taking Fish Oils, Study Shows
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger
Preparing for a Chlorine Gas Disaster
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
EYE CARE, VISION
Omega-3 Foods May Lower Eye Disease Risk
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Stem Cells Repair Damaged Corneas in Mice
FITNESS
Brisk Walk Can Help Leave Common Cold Behind
Keep Safety in Mind While Your Kids Are Cooling Off in the Water
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Psychiatric Drugs Might Raise Cardiac Death Risk
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
Gene Variation Found in Boys With Delinquent Peers
MEN'S HEALTH
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
The Unmedicated Mind
Love Hormone May Ease Discussion of Painful Topics
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Yoga's Benefits Outweigh Risks for Pregnant Women
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Health Tip: Be More Comfortable During Childbirth
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
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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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