Wednesday, July 7, 2004; Page A07
Study Finds Heparin as Effective as New Blood Thinner for Heart Patients
A newer blood thinner is no better than the old standby heparin at treating victims of heart attacks or chest pain, according to two major studies involving nearly 14,000 patients.
The newer drug, enoxaparin, is more convenient to use, but it also caused modest increases in bleeding, the studies found. The studies appear in today's Journal of the American Medical Association. One was funded by enoxaparin's maker, New Jersey-based Aventis Inc.
In an editorial, David Moliterno, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Kentucky at Lexington, said the results "look pretty darn lackluster," given earlier, smaller studies clearly favoring enoxaparin over heparin. He estimated that 30 percent of heart patients receive enoxaparin.
A third study -- also funded by Aventis -- analyzed results from six studies including the two new ones and found that enoxaparin was more effective than heparin. But other doctors questioned the findings, because the analysis included older data from when treatment practices were different.
Chinese Blame Migratory Birds For Latest Outbreak of Avian Flu
Bird flu has been detected in central China, and the outbreak is being blamed on migratory birds, an Agriculture Ministry official and state media said about four months after China declared victory over the virus.
Authorities have started culling poultry within a 1.9-mile radius of a chicken farm in Chaohu city in Anhui after the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu emerged near Chaohu Lake, the official said by telephone. Poultry within a 3.8-mile radius were being vaccinated.
There have been no human infections, the official said.
Migratory birds were to blame, state television said.
"We are concerned about the possible spread of this outbreak, as we are with any outbreak," World Health Organization spokesman Roy Wadia said by telephone, hours after the Chinese government informed the WHO of the outbreak.
Thailand has two new outbreaks of the H5N1 bird flu, which killed eight people in the country earlier this year, Deputy Agriculture Minister Newin Chidchob said. Authorities slaughtered more than 8,000 chickens on the farms and the outbreaks have been brought under control, he said.
Soy Powder Not a Good Substitute For Estrogen Pills, Report Says
A new study casts doubt on the value of soy powder as a substitute for estrogen pills. Dutch researchers said soy did not increase bone density in postmenopausal women and did not improve their memory or cholesterol levels.
Many women and doctors have been looking for alternatives to estrogen because of recent findings linking estrogen-progestin supplements to heart disease, breast cancer and senility. Soy contains compounds called isoflavones that mimic the effects of estrogen, and it was thought that soy, like estrogen, might ward off osteoporosis and relieve other symptoms of menopause.
The study appears in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.
-- From News Reports
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
_____Avian Flu Facts_____
Q. What is avian flu?
A. Avian influenza is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. The disease, which was first identified in Italy more than 100 years ago, occurs worldwide.
Q. Is avian flu contagious?
A. Yes. All birds are thought to be susceptible to infection with avian influenza, though some species are more resistant to infection than others. The first documented infection of humans with an avian influenza virus occurred in Hong Kong in 1997, when the H5N1 strain caused severe respiratory disease in 18 humans, of whom 6 died.
Q. What are the symptoms of avian flu?
A. Published information on human infection is limited to studies of the 1997 Hong Kong outbreak. Symptoms included fever, sore throat, cough and, in several of the fatal cases, severe respiratory distress secondary to viral pneumonia.
Q. How do you treat avian flu?
A. The quarantining of infected farms and destruction of infected or potentially exposed flocks are standard control measures aimed at preventing spread to other farms and eventual establishment of the virus in a country’s poultry population.
Q. How can you protect yourself against avian flu?
A. Workers involved in the culling of poultry flocks must be protected, by proper clothing and equipment, against infection. These workers should also receive antiviral drugs as a prophylactic measure.
Q. How effective is the vaccine?
A. Vaccination of persons at high risk of exposure to infected poultry, using existing vaccines effective against currently circulating human influenza strains, can reduce the likelihood of co-infection of humans with avian and influenza strains.
• WHO Fact Sheet
• CDC: Avian Flu Information
Source: World Health Organization