Heart disease danger: Vast majority of patients given wrong drug doses

Thursday, November 08, 2012 by: Sherry Baker, Health Sciences Editor
Tags: heart drugs, side effects, blood clots

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(NaturalNews) Cardiology researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute say they've found startling evidence that millions of Americans with coronary artery disease are at increased risk for serious problems like uncontrolled bleeding or developing blood clots. The reason? The drugs they are taking as prescribed by their doctors are the wrong dose for their bodies.

The new study, just released at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2012 in Los Angeles, suggests that vast numbers (in all, about 75 percent) of heart disease patients taking two common blood-thinning drugs appear to be receiving the wrong dosage levels. So why is this a problem? Because at too small of a dose, the drugs don't prevent clots (and comes with side effects which can include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, vision changes and seizures). And at too high levels, the Big Pharma meds can cause life-threatening internal bleeding.

The specific drugs in question are clopidogrel (Plavix) and prasugrel (Effient). Both are commonly prescribed by doctors to prevent harmful blood clots that can cause a stroke or heart attack. In fact, the current guidelines recommend that all patients should take the same standardized dose of one of these pills. But in their study of 521 patients, researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found the one-size-fits-all dose is not only ineffective for huge numbers of patients, it may be dangerous.

50 percent of the patients in the study taking clopidogrel were not getting enough of the drug to prevent clotting most effectively and a quarter were getting too much. Half of patients taking prasugrel were getting excessive amounts of the drug, which could lead to dangerous bleeding. Only a quarter of the patients taking either drug were receiving a correct dose.

"There's a sweet spot, an appropriate range for each patient. But we found that not many people are falling into that range," said cardiologist Brent Muhlestein, MD, a cardiac researcher at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, in a press statement. "We showed that by performing a simple blood test to see whether or not the blood is clotting properly, we can determine whether patients are getting an appropriate, individualized dose of the medications. The test is easy to perform, but not widely used."

The Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute study calls for personalized treatment for patients. The researchers say this could slash pharmacy bills for many patients who are being over-dosed with the powerful blood thinners. The annual cost for one of the medications is more than $1,800 and taking the lowest effective dose could conceivably cut their bill in half.

Anyone concerned about strokes should be aware that there's a safe and natural way to lower your risk. As Natural News has previously reported, multiple studies have already shown a strong association between a high consumption of fruits and vegetables and a lower stroke risk. For example, research published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association by Dutch scientists found frequently eating the white flesh of foods like pears and apples could lower the risk of stroke by 52 percent.


About the author:
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.

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