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Most parents are against teen tattoos

(Reuters Health) – Parents who’ve said “no” to teen tattoos need not feel alone. A new U.S. survey finds that 78 percent of parents wouldn’t even consider allowing their teenager to get inked.

The nationally-representative poll asked parents of kids between the ages of 13 and 18 for their attitudes about tattoos. Most, 75 percent, thought the earliest a teen should be allowed to have a tattoo was at age 18 or older, according to the results published by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

Those numbers include some parents who have tattoos themselves: 32 percent of those surveyed.

The subject had not yet come up in many households, with just 27 percent of parents of teens aged 16 to 18, and 11 percent of parents of kids aged 13 to 15 reporting that their child had asked about getting body art. Five percent of parents said their teen already had a tattoo.

“It’s important for parents to know what other parents are thinking,” said Dr. Gary Freed, a pediatrician at the University of Michigan and the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and co-director of the National Poll on Children’s Health. “It is increasingly becoming a topic of conversation in homes across America.”

A Pew Research Center study found that some 38 percent of young people aged 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo.

Among Mott Poll participants, 1 in 10 parents said a tattoo would be “okay” as a reward or to mark a special occasion. Those parents were among the 22 percent who weren’t adamantly opposed to tattoos in teens, Freed said.

Freed thinks that parents whose children have insisted that everyone else is getting a tattoo will be encouraged by the new survey results.

Parents’ biggest worries involved the potential health effects of getting inked: 53 percent said that they were very concerned about infection or scarring, while 50 percent said they were very concerned about diseases such as hepatitis or HIV being transmitted to their teen through unsanitary needles.

That doesn’t mean parents were completely anti-tattoo. Nearly two-thirds, 63 percent, agreed that getting a tattoo is a form of self-expression similar to hair dying and clothing choices.

Nevertheless, they expressed concerns that tattoos might have social consequences. Half of parents surveyed were very concerned that an employer might judge or stereotype their teen unfavorably because of a tattoo, while 24 percent worried that a teen tattoo would reflect badly on the parents themselves. The biggest concern, however, was that teens might come to regret getting a tattoo later on.

Parents’ concerns about the potential for future regret are certainly justified, said Dr. Sarah Chamlin, a professor of pediatrics and dermatology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“Most tattoos cannot be completely removed,” said Chamlin, who was not involved with the new survey. “It is a permanent decision in many cases.”

Often there’s a hint of the tattoo left in the skin even after the body art is removed, Chamlin said. “Look at the movie stars who have tried to remove theirs and you can often still see the tattoo faintly.”

The risk for health effects is also real, Chamlin said. “There are a number of problems we’ve seen with tattoos,” she added. “There can be allergic reactions to skin dyes. An itchy rash at the site can show up years later. You can also get a skin infection and scarring.”

Complications such as transmission of blood-borne diseases are less likely “so long as the practitioners are safely using their equipment and keeping it clean,” Chamlin said.

To avoid those kinds of issues, Freed suggests caution in choosing a tattoo artist: “Make sure if you do get a tattoo that the tattoo artist wears gloves and that everything gets sterilized.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2nU9Oy4 Mott Poll Report, online August 20, 2018.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

U.S. health secretary says agency can eliminate drug rebates

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said it was within his agency’s power to eliminate rebates on prescription drug purchases, a key element of the Trump administration’s plan to lower prescription medicine costs.

Such rebates are negotiated in the United States by pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) to lower the cost of medicines for their clients, including large employers and health plans that cover tens of millions of Americans.

Drugmakers say they are under pressure to provide rebates to the few PBMs that dominate the market, which include CVS (CVS.N), Express Scripts (ESRX.O) and UnitedHealth’s Optum (UNH.N), and that those payers do not pass on enough of those savings to patients – a contention the PBMs dispute. The drugmakers say the rebates force them to raise the price of their therapies over time to preserve their business.

The Trump administration has been receptive to that argument. Azar, in an interview with Reuters on Friday, said rebates created a perverse incentive to continuously raise drug prices.

Azar, a former top executive at drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co, is trying to deliver on President Donald Trump’s promises to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Americans, which Trump made a major priority during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The Department of Health and Human Services last month proposed regulations that would scale back protections for rebates that might otherwise be illegal under a federal anti-kickback law.

The PBM industry has challenged that move, saying HHS cannot eliminate rebates on its own and would need Congress to change the federal statute. The ultimate responsibility for high drug prices, those companies say, lies with the manufacturers who set those prices.

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), which represents pharmacy benefit managers, has said the administration’s proposal to scale back protections for rebates raises “troubling questions,” but did not comment on Azar’s latest remarks. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) did not respond to a request for comment.

Azar contends that the current rebates are a product of previous HHS regulation. “What one has created by regulation, one could address by regulation,” he added.

He did not say when such new regulations, which are being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, might take effect. “The question of rebates may very well be fundamental to the issue of how you reverse these constant incentives to higher list prices (for medicines).”

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar listens to U.S. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduce him during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

CAMPAIGN ISSUE

The cost of healthcare, and prescription drugs specifically, is expected to be a major campaign issue ahead of November elections, in which Democrats are seeking to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate from Trump’s Republicans.

In May, Trump unveiled a “blueprint” comprising dozens of proposed policies to give the government greater leverage over drug prices, but did not support changes to give the federal government’s Medicare health plan for seniors direct negotiating power with drugmakers. Critics say that has spared the pharmaceutical industry any real challenge to its pricing practices.

Azar defended the administration’s actions, noting that more than a dozen leading drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Merck & Co (MRK.N) and Celgene Corp (CELG.O), had pledged to hold off on further price increases this year.

“They are seeing where this is going, they are seeing that we are ticking off the blueprint items one by one,” Azar said. “We are not dependent on the voluntary action of pharmaceutical companies. We are not counting on their goodwill or their altruism. … They’re just changing because they see that’s the future.”

Critics say the drug price pledges by major drugmakers are largely window dressing.

Since May, HHS has given Medicare Advantage health plans, which are administered by private-sector health insurers, new tools to lower prescription drug costs.

The agency’s Food and Drug Administration has unveiled a plan to boost the use of biosimilars, which are cheaper versions of expensive biotech medicines. Azar has directed the FDA to establish a working group to study how to import drugs safely from other countries if a drugmaker dramatically raises prices.

The actions have already sparked concerns. Last week, a leading group of rheumatologists met with Azar to discuss concerns over changes to Medicare Advantage that could force some patients to try a less effective, cheaper medication for a period of time before their health plan would cover a more expensive therapy.

HHS said Azar emphasized the agency’s interest in lowering drug prices but expressed openness to alleviating burdens that could be placed on physicians as a result of the new rule.

Azar said he spoke with Trump every few days, either in person or over the phone and that in every conversation, the president wanted to hear about progress on lowering prescription medicine costs.

“I have never once had a meeting or phone call with the president where we have not talked about drug pricing,” Azar said.

Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Peter Cooney and David Gregorio

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Moderate 'bad cholesterol' levels tied to early death for healthy people

(Reuters Health) – Healthy adults who don’t keep their LDL-C, or “bad cholesterol,” in check are more likely to die prematurely from cardiovascular disease than peers with lower cholesterol levels, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 36,375 adults with no history of heart disease or diabetes and a low 10-year risk for events like heart attacks or strokes. Most had levels of the type of cholesterol that builds up in blood vessels and can lead to blood clots and heart attacks, known as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), below the threshold that usually leads doctors to prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs.

During the study follow-up period of about 27 years, 1,086 people died of cardiovascular disease and 598 died from coronary heart disease.

Compared to people with very low LDL-C levels under 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood, individuals with LDL-C levels ranging from 100 to 159 mg/dL had a 30 to 40 percent higher risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. With LDL-C levels of 160 mg/dL to 189 mg/DL, people had a 90 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular causes. LDL-C levels of at least 190 mg/DL, which is where guidelines suggest statin use even for otherwise healthy people, carried 70 percent greater risk.

Compared to people with LDL-C levels below 100 mg/dL, people with LDL-C of 100 to 129 mg/DL died of cardiovascular disease about 1.8 years sooner and people with LDL-C of 160 mg/dL or higher died around four years sooner, the researchers calculate.

“The biggest take-home message from this study is that it demonstrates that having a low 10-year estimated . . . cardiovascular risk does not eliminate the risk posed by elevated LDL cholesterol or (other forms of bad cholesterol) over a course of a lifetime,” said lead study author Dr. Shuaib Abdullah, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and VA North Texas Health Care System.

“Life-style interventions, such as avoiding diets high in saturated and trans-fatty acids, increasing fiber intake, maintaining ideal weight, and engaging in regular aerobic activity may lower LDL cholesterol and have been associated with improved cardiovascular outcomes,” Abdullah said by email.

“In those individuals in whom LDL cholesterol or (other forms of bad cholesterol) remain elevated despite these interventions, statins may be considered after discussion with the health care provider about their risks and benefits,” Abdullah advised.

Prescribing statins, or cholesterol-lowering drugs, to healthy people at low risk for death from heart attacks or strokes has been controversial partly because these drugs were tested primarily in intermediate- and high-risk groups, the study authors note in Circulation. Research to date hasn’t offered a clear picture of whether statins can help younger, healthier people live longer.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology advise against statins for low-risk individuals unless LDL-C levels are at least 190 mg/dL. These recommendations also urge doctors to discuss the pros and cons of statins with low-risk individuals who have LDL-C levels of at least 160 mg/dL.

Based on the study results, these discussions should lead more low-risk patients to consider statins, the authors conclude.

The study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how slightly elevated, but not dangerously high LDL-C levels might kill people, or if statins would reduce their risk of death.

Still, the results suggest that more people may want to consider treatments to lower LDL-C when it reaches 160 mg/dL instead of waiting for it to hit 190 mg/dL, said Dr. Christie Ballantyne, coauthor of an accompanying editorial and chief of cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“Lipoproteins play a fundamental role in the disease process of (hardening of the arteries),” Ballantyne said by email. “The bad lipoprotein particles carry LDL and (other bad cholesterol) which gets into the artery wall and sets of an inflammatory process which not only leads to plaques and blockages but also causes the plaques to be unstable and rupture with blood clots than cause the artery to be blocked off leading to heart attacks and strokes.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2Laom5N and bit.ly/2N3WaDm Circulation, online August 20, 2018.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

U.S. health secretary says agency has power to eliminate drug rebates

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said it was within his agency’s power to eliminate rebates on prescription drug purchases, a key element of the Trump administration’s plan to lower prescription medicine costs.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar listens to U.S. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders introduce him during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 11, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Such rebates are negotiated in the United States by pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) to lower the cost of medicines for their clients, including large employers and health plans that cover tens of millions of Americans.

Drugmakers say they are under pressure to provide rebates to the few PBMs that dominate the market and that those payers do not pass on enough of those savings to patients – a contention the PBMs dispute. The drugmakers say the rebates force them to raise the price of their therapies over time to preserve their business.

The Trump administration has been receptive to that argument. Azar, in an interview with Reuters on Friday, said rebates created a perverse incentive to continuously raise drug prices.

Azar, a former top executive at drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co, is trying to deliver on President Donald Trump’s promises to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Americans, which Trump made a major priority during his 2016 presidential campaign.

The Department of Health and Human Services last month proposed regulations that would scale back protections for rebates that might otherwise be illegal under a federal anti-kickback law.

The PBM industry has challenged that move, saying HHS cannot eliminate rebates on its own and would need Congress to change the federal statute. The ultimate responsibility for high drug prices, those companies say, lies with the manufacturers who set those prices.

Azar contends that the current rebates are a product of previous HHS regulation. “What one has created by regulation, one could address by regulation,” he added.

He did not say when such new regulations, which are being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget, might take effect. “The question of rebates may very well be fundamental to the issue of how you reverse these constant incentives to higher list prices (for medicines).”

CAMPAIGN ISSUE

The cost of healthcare, and prescription drugs specifically, is expected to be a major campaign issue ahead of November elections, in which Democrats are seeking to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate from Trump’s Republicans.

In May, Trump unveiled a “blueprint” comprising dozens of proposed policies to give the government greater leverage over drug prices, but did not support changes to give the federal government’s Medicare health plan for seniors direct negotiating power with drugmakers. Critics say that has spared the pharmaceutical industry any real challenge to its pricing practices.

Azar defended the administration’s actions, noting that more than a dozen leading drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), Merck & Co (MRK.N) and Celgene Corp (CELG.O), had pledged to hold off on further price increases this year.

“They are seeing where this is going, they are seeing that we are ticking off the blueprint items one by one,” Azar said. “We are not dependent on the voluntary action of pharmaceutical companies. We are not counting on their goodwill or their altruism. … They’re just changing because they see that’s the future.”

Critics say the drug price pledges by major drugmakers are largely window dressing.

Since May, HHS has given Medicare Advantage health plans, which are administered by private-sector health insurers, new tools to lower prescription drug costs.

The agency’s Food and Drug Administration has unveiled a plan to boost the use of biosimilars, which are cheaper versions of expensive biotech medicines. Azar has directed the FDA to establish a working group to study how to import drugs safely from other countries if a drugmaker dramatically raises prices.

The actions have already sparked concerns. Last week, a leading group of rheumatologists met with Azar to discuss changes to Medicare Advantage that could force some patients to try a less effective, cheaper medication for a period of time before their health plan would cover a more expensive therapy.

HHS said Azar emphasized the agency’s interest in lowering drug prices but expressed openness to alleviating burdens that could be placed on physicians as a result of the new rule.

Azar said he spoke with Trump every few days, either in person or over the phone and that in every conversation, the president wanted to hear about progress on lowering prescription medicine costs.

“I have never once had a meeting or phone call with the president where we have not talked about drug pricing,” Azar said.

Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Peter Cooney

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Roche's Alecensa latest beneficiary of faster China drug approvals

ZURICH (Reuters) – Chinese regulators are speeding up drug approvals, with Roche’s Alecensa cancer medicine the latest beneficiary in a market that is growing increasingly important for international pharmaceuticals companies’ growth plans.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche is pictured on the company’s headquarters in Basel February 4, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann (SWITZERLAND)/File Photo

China’s National Drug Administration backed the Swiss drugmaker’s Alecensa to treat a kind of lung cancer, called anaplastic lymphoma kinase-, or ALK-positive, less than a year after European and U.S. approvals.

Reporting by John Miller

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Third African swine fever outbreak hits China's hog herd

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s Ministry of Agriculture said on Sunday 88 hogs had died from African swine fever in the eastern city of Lianyungang, the third outbreak this month, as the highly-contagious disease threatened to spread through the world’s biggest pig herd.

A total of 615 hogs have been infected since Aug. 15 with the swine fever in Lianyungang, in Jiangsu province, where authorities have banned the movement of hogs, related products and animals that are easily infected both into and outside the affected area, the ministry said.

Emergency measures, including culling and disinfecting animals, have brought the outbreak in the city’s Haizhou district under “effective control,” the ministry said.

The ministry did not answer a call or immediately respond to a fax seeking comment on how it is acting to contain the spread of the swine fever.

The Jiangsu cases are the third outbreak of African swine fever in China this month. The disease, for which there is no available vaccine, had never previously been detected in East Asia. It does not affect humans.

By road, Lianyungang is about 1,300 kilometres (808 miles) south of Shenyang, the provincial capital of Liaoning province, where China’s first case of the fever was reported on Aug. 3.

A second outbreak was reported on Thursday about 600 kilometers (373 miles) east of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province in central China.

The pigs found to be infected in Zhengzhou had traveled from a live market in Heilongjiang province, which, like Liaoning, is in China’s northeast.

Liaoning has culled more than 8,000 hogs in an attempt to contain the outbreak, while a unit of WH Group, the world’s top pork producer, said it had culled 1,362 pigs at the slaughterhouse where the Zhengzhou cases were discovered.

Reporting by Tom Daly and Muyu Xu; Editing by Darren Schuettler

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

China sacks six senior officials at food and drug regulator over vaccine scandal

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China said on Saturday it has sacked six senior officials at its food and drug regulator after a safety scandal at vaccine maker Changsheng Biotechnology Co Ltd revealed failings at the government body including inadequate supervision.

In a posting on its website, the State Administration for Market Regulation said that among officials dismissed were Ding Jianhua, who headed two departments at the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA). The same statement was posted on the CFDA’s website.

Changsheng was accused in July of falsifying data for a rabies vaccine and manufacturing an ineffective vaccine for babies, sparking widespread public anger and multiple probes including police investigations.

The Changsheng case exposed that the CFDA officials “did not provide sufficient supervision, strong enough oversight, nor were they strict enough in their inspections”, the posting said.

While there were no known reports of people being harmed by the vaccines, regulators ordered Changsheng to halt their production and recall the rabies vaccine. Changsheng has apologized and said it is cooperating with investigations.

On Friday, Beijing said it had sacked a senior provincial official and was probing a former top drug regulator. Xinhua also reported that more than 40 government officials, including seven at the provincial level, have been held accountable for the scandal and some have been sacked.

In a separate Saturday report, Xinhua said the central province of Hubei has removed six government officials from their posts in relation to another inferior vaccines case involving Chinese company Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.

The company on Friday said on its website that it has dismissed its deputy general manager in charge of production and warned or fined eight other employees.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Art tours tied to easing of chronic pain

(Reuters Health) – Art museums may have an analgesic effect on chronic pain, a small study suggests.

Chronic pain sufferers who took guided tours of art museums felt less discomfort and unpleasantness related to their pain shortly afterward, researchers found.

The researchers invited 54 visitors to the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California, who reported experiencing chronic pain to participate in private hour-long tours led by gallery staff. Tours included about three to five objects, and study participants were given places to sit in a gallery that was closed to other museum visitors to make the experience calmer and easier to navigate for individuals with mobility issues.

The tour leaders’ dialogues focused on participants’ experiences rather than the art object and its history. In addition, the tour guides emphasized inclusivity by, for example, underscoring that the museum is a public organization.

Before the tours, and again afterward, researchers asked participants about their pain levels and the extent to which they felt socially disconnected. Overall, 57 percent of participants reported pain relief after the tour, and most of them reported feeling less unpleasantness due to pain when it was over. Most of them also reported feeling less socially disconnected.

“The experience of chronic pain is complex, and it involves an intermingling of physical sensations and emotional reactions to those sensations,” said study leader Ian Koebner, director of integrative pain management at the school of medicine at the University of California, Davis in Sacramento.

“But that is not the whole picture,” Koebner said by email. He added, “The individual’s experience of pain – both physical and emotional – is always embedded within a social context (that) can greatly impact the individual’s experience of pain.”

While previous research has linked physical pain with social disconnection, it’s not clear how to translate this into better care for patients, Koebner said. The goal of the current study was to see if experiencing art in a social context might help ease pain as well as feelings of isolation or disconnection.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how viewing art in a museum setting might directly reduce pain or feelings of disconnection, researchers note in Pain Medicine. It’s also possible the impact of art on pain sensations might be different for people who don’t enjoy museums than it was for the study participants who came to the museum on their own.

Still, it’s possible that the subjective experience of beauty in art might help reduce pain or take people’s minds off their discomfort.

“I think art, in the broadest sense of the word, is an experience, not an object,” Koebner said. “And I believe that experience, which includes a sense of meaning, inspiration and connection may be analgesic.”

Many places, not just museums, hold the potential to facilitate this experience, Koebner added.

While art might work for some people, music or theater or other activities like gardening or walking could also have similar outcomes for people suffering from chronic pain, said Helen Chatterjee, a biology professor at University College London who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Psychological improvements in mood, self-esteem, confidence, quality of life, reductions in anxiety and stress, learning and acquisition of new skills, and development of social bonds, are shared across a range of different types of activities,” Chatterjee said by email. “The explanation for this is likely that the underlying mechanisms going on in the body are the same; in other words, all of these tasks are immersive, physically, cognitively and emotionally, and usually occur in social groups.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2L1Ggrq Pain Medicine, online July 24, 2018.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Many people take drugs that interfere with their blood pressure pills

(Reuters Health) – People who take pills to lower their blood pressure often take other drugs that reduce the pills’ effectiveness, a recent study suggests.

Researchers studied data on 521,028 adults prescribed blood pressure pills for the first time and 131,764 people taking at least four different pills to lower their blood pressure.

Roughly 18 percent were also taking drugs that make blood pressure pills less effective, the study found. These include medicines like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, or hormones.

“In some cases, use of these blood pressure-interfering medications may be justified and the potential side effect of elevations in blood pressure may be acceptable to patients,” said study leader Andrew Hwang of the High Point University Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy in North Carolina.

“But in other cases . . . there may be significant opportunities to switch to alternative treatments or reassess the need for continuing the interfering treatment,” Hwang said by email. “If these drugs can be discontinued, it’s possible we can reduce the prescribing cascade – that is, reduce the need for using additional medication to treat a side effect of another medication.”

Patients may not realize the risks, the findings suggest.

Among people recently prescribed blood pressure medications for the first time, 58 percent later refilled prescriptions for drugs known to increase blood pressure, the study found.

Among people prescribed four or more blood pressure drugs, 65 percent refilled drugs known to increase blood pressure after stepping up their blood pressure treatment regimen.

Patients who need blood pressure medicine should ask their doctor if any of the other medications they’re taking might interfere, said Dr. Gunnar Gislason, a professor of cardiology at Copenhagen University Hospital Herlev and Gentofte and director of research at the Danish Heart Foundation.

And if blood pressure drugs are not working, it’s important to consider not just other drugs that might influence blood pressure but also herbal medications that often are considered harmless, Gislason, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email.

The way different drugs can increase blood pressure varies, Hwang said.

“Some drugs, such as NSAIDs and hormones, elevate blood pressure mainly by causing the body to retain excess fluid,” Hwang noted. “This effect counteracts the mechanism of some blood pressure medications like diuretics (water pills), which cause the body to get rid of fluid.”

“Other drugs can cause blood pressure elevation by constricting the blood vessels, increasing heart rate, or by a combination of mechanisms,” Hwang added. “There are also some drugs, such as acetaminophen, that we know increase blood pressure, but we don’t know how.”

The study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, wasn’t designed to prove whether or how certain prescription drugs might interfere with the effectiveness of blood pressure medicines or increase blood pressure.

Another limitation is that it focused only on patients who were taking prescribed medicines that can interfere with blood pressure drugs, and many painkillers like acetaminophen and naproxen are available over the counter without a prescription in the U.S., the study authors note.

“Although this study cannot tell us the reasons why the prescription rate of blood pressure-interfering medication is so frequent, it may explain why in (the) U.S. population blood pressure control is still very poor,” said Dr. Liffert Vogt of Amsterdam University Medical Center.

“Poorly controlled blood pressure (is) a major cause of heart disease and stroke,” Vogt, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “For that reason, prescribing drugs that contribute to poor blood pressure control should be carefully considered.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2OLgv0v American Journal of Hypertension, online July 25, 2018.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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