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Medication News for Seniors - Statins Help Lower Heart Attack, Stroke Risk for People with Diabetes

separator A recent study has shown that statin drugs, which help lower cholesterol, can decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke by one third in people who have diabetes. Even study participants who had low levels of so-called “bad” cholesterol experienced a reduction in risk.

In the study, there were 6,000 people with diabetes, 90 percent with type 2 and 10 percent with type 1. The statin drugs helped a wide variety of people—those who had had diabetes for different periods of time, those who were all ages, including 65 and older and those who had high blood pressure. Additionally, the statins helped reduce the rate of second cardiovascular events among people who had already had one event.

Diabetes is very common in older people, so the study results are especially important for them. Satins are sold under the names Zocor, Mevacor, Pravachol, Lescol and Lipitor. If you have diabetes and your doctor recommends a statin medication for you, be sure to stick with it.

Source: The Lancet, 14 June 2003; The British Heart Foundation

New Drug Slows Moderate, Severe Alzheimers

A new drug called memantine appears to slow the progress of moderate to severe Alzheimers disease. At this stage of the illness, patients can no longer take care of themselves, and generally need help dressing, bathing and making simple food. A recent study showed that memantine blocks the activity of a brain chemical called glutamate. Too much glutamate can damage or kill nerve cells.

Memantine has few side effects. The recent study shows that it can work for at least six months, but it may also be effective for a longer period of time. Further study is needed to determine whether this is the case.

The Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved memantine, but it is reviewing the drug.

New England Journal of Medicine, 3 April 2003
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