Health Buzz: New Blood Thinner Outdoes Plavix and Other Health News

New nutrition labeling systems; avoiding the pain of arthritis by building thigh muscles.

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Experimental Clotbusting Drug Outperforms Plavix in Trial

New research finds that Brilinta, a drug developed to stop blood clots, works better at preventing heart attacks and death than Plavix, which is one of the world's top-selling drugs, Reuters reports. More than 18,600 patients participated in a study that compared Brilinta, which is made by AstraZeneca, with the Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb drug Plavix. Researchers found that patients taking Brilinta were 16 percent less likely to die from heart disease or stroke, according to Reuters, with no higher risk of severe bleeding. They did find a slightly higher chance of spontaneous intracranial and gastrointestinal bleeding in patients taking Brilinta. The researchers reported their results at the European Society of Cardiology annual meeting in Barcelona and online in the New England Journal of Medicine. Brilinta, unlike Plavix, must be taken twice a day. The drug will be submitted for regulatory approval in the United States and Europe in the fourth quarter of this year.

Consider 6 ways to reduce inflammation without taking a statin along with 5 ways to prevent stroke. For the latest in heart news, see U.S. News's page on heart health.

More Nutrition Information Systems Hit the ShelvesDo They Work?

Over the past few years, grocery stores—including Hannaford and Food Lion, with the Guiding Stars program, as well as SuperValu's Nutrition IQ program—have rolled out their own rating systems aimed at helping shoppers make informed buying decisions.

There's a new kind of nutrition information system rolling out this fall, and rather than on shelf tags, you can find it right on the packaging of foods manufactured by PepsiCo, Kellogg Co., Unilever, Kraft Foods, and other companies, U.S. News's Katherine Hobson reports. The Smart Choices program puts a green check on the front of products produced by participating manufacturers as long as the foods meet certain nutritional standards. It also shows calories and serving size. Should you make your purchasing decisions based solely on the check? Hobson finds out just how reliable are Smart Choices and other programs that rate packaged foods.

Read about 8 fixes nutritionists want on food labels and 7 must-dos before you buy a functional food.

Can You Avoid Arthritis Knee Pain by Building Thigh Muscles?

Millions of older women suffer the pain and stiffness of arthritis, especially in their knee joints, which can severely curtail everyday activities like climbing stairs or getting out of a car. It turns out there may be a way to protect our knees and avoid the discomforts of aging: strong thigh muscles. That's according to a University of Iowa study published last week, which found that women who had the strongest thigh muscles were about 50 percent less likely to develop knee pain compared with those with the weakest muscles, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports. The study didn't find the same association in men.

Previous research has shown that strong quadriceps muscles (located in the upper half of the leg) help protect against cartilage loss behind the kneecap and also provide crucial support for the joint, Kotz writes. However, strong thigh muscles don't appear to actually prevent osteoarthritis in the knee; about 10 percent of the female participants developed knee arthritis over the 2½-year study, according to X-rays. Read more.

View our strength-training guide that includes exercises for your thighs. And learn what else you can do to strengthen your thighs.

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Corrected on : Corrected on 09/01/09: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the drug Brilinta is available in Europe. It will be submitted for regulatory approval there in the fourth quarter of this year.