I’m always happy to see a story that explores eastern or complementary medicine. Don’t miss how acupuncture can improve angina. Our other two news stories are a reminder to only use medicine when you need it and to use it at the lowest effective dose.
Xeljanz, RA and Colitis Drug
The FDA has added a serious (boxed) warning for Xeljanz 10 mg dose twice a day. Doctors are to advise you that at that dose there is a higher risk of pulmonary embolism (a blood clot that travels into the arteries in the lungs), or death and to report any signs of thrombosis (blood clot) including sudden shortness of breath, chest pain that worsens with breathing, swelling of a leg or arm, leg pain or tenderness, or red or discolored skin in the painful or swollen leg or arm.
The warning includes a directive to only use Xeljanz for ulcerative colitis if you have severe side effects from other drugs or if those other drugs are not effective.
This warning joins other warnings on the label about Xeljanz including the risk of serious infections including tuberculosis and bacterial, leading to hospital or death; invasive fungal, viral and other “opportunistic” infections; and that lymphoma and other malignancies have been observed in patients.
- FDA Adds Boxed Warning on Risk for PE, Death With Higher Dose Tofacitinib (Xeljanz) – MedScape July 26, 2019
Acupuncture and Angina
Chronic stable angina is when you routinely experience pain, discomfort or pressure in your chest when your body is working hard and your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen. Resting makes it feel better. A recent study of 404 people with chronic stable angina was divided into four groups, one including sham (fake) acupuncture, another group with no acupuncture and two groups with acupuncture but in different places — one a deliberately useless place, the other in the traditionally correct places.
All four groups received regular medicine for angina also. The study showed the group with appropriate acupuncture had a better outcome than any of the other three groups.
- Clinical Trial in China on Acupuncture as Added Treatment for Chronic Stable Angina – JAMA, July 29, 2019
An Aspirin A Day Does Not Lower Heart Risk
A daily aspirin is so effective at lowering a second heart attack that millions now take it to ward off a first heart attack or stroke. However, if you don’t have cardiovascular disease, and if you have not had a stroke, aspirin will not help you — and like all drugs, aspirin has side effects. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (link below) support previous research that has concluded that it can make peptic ulcers worse and put you at risk of bleeding in the skull. That’s because aspirin lowers the blood’s ability to clot.
- Prevalence of Aspirin Use for Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in the United States: Results From the 2017 National Health Interview Survey – Annals of Internal Medicine July 23, 2019
- Millions of people take a daily aspirin for heart health. They might not need to – USA Today July 23, 2019