More Conflicting Findings on Avandia
New study results conflict with recent evidence that has questioned the safety of the diabetes drug Avandia. While prior research has linked the drug to an increased risk of heart failure, the new findings, presented Monday at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting in Orlando, suggest that Avandia is associated with a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, or death, HealthDay reports. The study of nearly 2,400 participants compared people taking Avandia or Actos, another diabetes drug, to those who were taking neither medication and found a 28 percent lower cardiovascular risk in the group on Avandia. Yet, a new review of studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Avandia hiked heart attack risk by 28 to 39 percent, according to HealthDay. Another new large-scale study found that patients on Avandia had a higher risk of serious cardiovascular problems.
In February, U.S. News contributor January Payne wrote about the concerns plaguing Avandia. She offered advice from experts on what people should—and shouldn't—do if they are currently taking Avandia. [Read more: 6 Things You Should Know About Avandia.]
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Got Diabetes? Do These Things or You May Go Blind
Diabetic retinopathy, when tiny blood vessels inside the retina are damaged by diabetes, is the most common diabetic eye disease, and is the chief cause of adult blindness in the United States. Yet it's a problem that can be prevented or slowed if warning signs are heeded and steps are taken early to ward off the condition, U.S. News's January Payne writes. Symptoms include blurry or double vision, pain or pressure in the eyes, problems seeing out of the corners of the eyes, as well as seeing flashing lights, rings, or dark or floating spots. People with diabetes are also at higher risk for developing cataracts and glaucoma, and at a younger age than those who don't have diabetes. So what can you do to prevent diabetes-related eye complications? Start by making it a lifelong goal to take proper care of your condition, Payne writes.
Because diabetic retinopathy is caused by high glucose levels damaging small blood vessels in the eyes, "the single most important way to help reduce the risk of vision loss from diabetic retinopathy and from diabetes is to optimize blood glucose control," says Abdhish Bhavsar, a Minneapolis-based ophthalmologist and a clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
A new study by researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center, recently presented at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting in Orlando, looks at people who have lived with type 1 diabetes relatively free of complications for 50 years or more. About 40 percent of the people in this group didn't have serious eye disease, which researchers think could be due to genes or other protective factors. Those who escaped serious eye problems also had "fairly good blood sugar control," says Jennifer Sun, lead study author and an ophthalmologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center, who says the findings emphasize the importance of proper blood sugar control, not just for eye health, but to prevent other complications of diabetes, too. [Read more: Got Diabetes? Do These Things or You May Go Blind.]
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5 Fitness Gadgets: Miracle or Misleading?
Weighted belts, sneakers, and jewelry, marketed as "wearable workouts" that aid in weight loss and tone muscles while you go about your business, are increasingly popular. But do they work? Are they worth the money?
"None of these products are truly necessary to get in shape," says Madelyn Fernstrom, founding director of the University of Pittsburgh Weight Management Center and a diet and nutrition expert at UPMC-University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "You could ignore all these things, buy a good pair of walking shoes and a $20 pedometer, and you're all set. That being said, they're not all negative. If these products add perceived value to your workout—if they're the mental boost that's going to get you moving each day—they're worth every penny." U.S. News's Hanna Dubansky asked Fernstrom to give her take on some of the toning and calorie-burning wearable workouts on the market, such as sneakers made by Sketchers called "Shape-Ups."
By forcing you to change your gait, these boat-shaped sneakers claim to strengthen the legs, buttocks, back, and abdominals. "If your foot is uneven, you're going to work harder and expend more energy," says Fernstrom. "Whether or not they make you lose weight, you will certainly use more muscle groups." The company recommends wearing them for no more than 45 minutes initially to prevent sore muscles, and Fernstrom suggests that individuals with leg and back problems in particular try them out cautiously. But for those who find the kicks comfortable, she gives them a thumbs up: "If they get you walking more, that, to me, is the best motivation of all." [Slide Show: 5 Fitness Gadgets: Miracle or Misleading?]
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