Herbs, heart drugs combo can hurt you
Researchers are warning that popular herbs and supplements, including St. John's wort and even garlic and ginger, do not mix well with common heart drugs and can also be dangerous for patients taking statins, blood thinners and blood pressure medications. St. John's wort raises blood pressure and heart rate, and garlic and ginger increase the risk of bleeding in patients on blood thinners, the researchers said. "This is not new research, but there is a trend toward more and more use of these compounds, and patients often don't discuss with their doctors the compounds they are using on their own," said Dr. Arshad Jahangir, senior author of a paper in Tuesday's issue of The Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Serotonin, SIDS may be linked
Babies who die of sudden infant death syndrome may have low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical involved in regulating breathing and other vital functions. Harvard researchers who made the discovery said that it took them a step closer to understanding why babies who appeared to be perfectly healthy might die suddenly, and that it could eventually lead to development of a screening test to identify at-risk infants. The paper was published this month in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Surgery touted for obese teens
Gastric-banding surgery appears to be significantly more effective than lifestyle interventions in helping severely obese teenagers lose weight and keep it off, a new study suggests. In the United States, the banding procedure, in which an adjustable device on the stomach creates feelings of fullness with less food, is available to adolescents only through research studies. But with the health benefits of such surgery becoming more obvious, some hope the band will be approved for adolescents. The study, in The Journal of the American Medical Association, included 50 Australian teens ages 14 to 18 with a body mass index over 35 (considered severely obese). Half received the surgery; the other half took part in diet, exercise and followup. After two years, teens who had surgery lost about 79 percent of their excess weight, compared with about 13 percent in the lifestyle group. But obesity expert Dr. Michael Goran noted, "Surgery has potential side effects, and . . . doesn't replace lifestyle changes, which is why that's recommended as a first line of attack."