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New drug best at stroke prevention

A new drug tops standard treatment in preventing strokes caused by a common heart rhythm problem called atrial fibrillation, according to a study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress.

“Apixaban resulted in an additional 21 per cent relative reduction in stroke and systemic embolism” compared to warfarin, Christopher Granger, a professor at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

“It also resulted in a 31 per cent relative reduction in major bleeding, as well as an 11 per cent relative reduction in overall mortality."

Warfarin, developed in the 1950s, is taken by millions of people worldwide who have had or are at risk of having strokes.In phase III clinical trials -- the last step before commercialisation -- Granger and colleagues divided more than 18,000 patients in 39 countries into two groups.

One group took five milligrammes of apixaban twice a day for an average of 1year 8 months and the other warfarin, which is adjusted in dosage depending on the result of frequent blood tests.

Unlike warfarin, apixaban does not require constant monitoring to insure that the dosage remains within a desired range. Warfarin levels can be thrown off by a change in diet, or other medications.

Climate change to worsen childhood asthma in future

Climate change may trigger a surge in asthma-related health problems in children and more emergency room (ER) visits in the next decade, according to a new study.
 Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers found that the changing levels of ozone could lead to a 7.3 per cent increase in asthma-related emergency room visits by children, ages 0-17.

 Lead researcher Perry Sheffield, MD, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine, and her colleagues used regional and atmospheric chemistry models to reach its calculations.

 “Our study shows that these assessment models are an effective way of evaluating the long-term impact of global climate change on a local level,” said Dr. Sheffield.  “This study is a jumping off point to evaluate other outcomes including cost utilization, doctors’ visits, missed school days, and a general understanding of the overall burden of climate change on children with asthma,” she added. Dr. Sheffield and her team concluded that better measures to reduce carbon pollution that contributes to global climate change should be implemented.

Tomato-based extract promotes healthy blood flow

 A product made from ripe tomato extract that claims to promote improved blood flow important for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system will be showcased next week at Vitafoods Asia, a major trade show in Hong Kong.

The developers of Fruitflow, a concentrated tomato extract in syrup form, claim the product inhibits platelets from clumping and aggregating, a known cause of heart attacks, stroke and venous thrombosis.

Platelets are important for normal blood clotting after an injury and circulate in the blood as smooth, disc-shaped structures. But factors like smoking, obesity, stress and raised cholesterol can cause the cells to become spiky and form dangerous, unwanted blood clots that clog arteries and lead to heart disease and strokes.

A 2006 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and led by Provexis, which holds the patent for the formula, also found significant reductions in the build-up of platelets as soon as three hours after consumption. Similarly, researchers in Japan found a nutrient in tomatoes that could tackle the onset of vascular disease. The study, published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research this year, identified a compound that enhanced fatty acid oxidation, which can lead to the development of vascular diseases.

Fruitflow is the first ingredient of its kind to receive an approved health claim from the European Food Safety Authority and could become the latest superingredient to infiltrate the functional foods market currently dominated by products with added probiotics, green tea, and vitamin D.

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