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Low Thyroid Function Linked to Heart Disease in Arthritis

It’s well established that inflammatory types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Now, a Dutch study shows that if in addition to the arthritis you have hypothyroidism – a condition in which the thyroid gland produces an insufficient amount of hormones – your risk is even higher.

“Evidence is accumulating,” explains study co-author Michael T. Nurmohamed, MD, PhD, a rheumatologist at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. “Rheumatoid arthritis as well as hypothyroidism are independently associated with an increased cardiovascular risk, such as heart attacks and strokes. If you have both, then the risk is amplified,” he says. The study was published online in March in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Read More (courtesy Jennifer Davis, Arthritis Today)

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Consumer Reports: Most medical implants have never been tested for safety

With medical products on the market ranging from hip replacements to implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, patients would think that if doctors are using such devices, they must be safe.

That’s not always the case.

According to Consumer Reports, .metal on metal hip replacements, knee replacements, and other medical implant devices are rarely rigorously tested to assure patient safety and effective. Most of the time, manufacturers of such products have done little more than file the required FDA paperwork.

The Consumer Reports article also states the only safety “testing” that usually occurs is in bodies of unsuspecting patients. As a result, most of metal on metal joint replacement implants have had a very high failure rate, with symptoms ranging from extreme pain to subsequent corrective surgeries.

DePuy recalled 93,000 ASR XL hip replacement devices in 2010 worldwide after it became clear that the metal on metal implant failed more often than average and produced serious injuries, which resulted in several lawsuits.

Medical devices that haven’t undergone rigorous testing before going on the market have shown increased risks of cancer in patients, shifting/slippage of the device(s), nerve damage, chronic pain, abnormally high levels of chromium and cobalt levels in the blood, hearing loss, visual problems, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and anxiety, among other problems.

Consumer Reports suggests that patients do their research before considering any type of medical implant. In my case, I’ve taken non-invasive treatment options for my own severe osteoarthritis. Once those are exhausted, then only will I look into quality knee replacements.

Additional Resources:

Consumer Reports: Conditions & Treatments – Replacing a Joint

CBS News: Investigation: Most medical devices implanted in patients without testing

Dangers of metal on metal hip replacements featured on NPR

KING 5: More problems with metal-on-metal hip replacements, study says

Chronic Conditions Management Workshops Now Online

A workshop on managing chronic conditions developed by the Patient Education Research Center at the Stanford University School of Medicine is now available free of charge online.

Better Choices, Better Health offers the same benefits as the in-person workshops, but with the convenience of reaching out to more patients via the Internet.

As with the in-person groups, Better Choices, Better Health participants with conditions such as diabetes and arthritis are led by trained facilitators on topics about managing pain and fatigue and improving their quality of life.

Several of the facilitators who also suffer from similar chronic conditions also help participants learn about different treatment options, find suitable ways to exercise and eat healthy, and have better communication with family members and physicians.

Click here to get more information and to find out how to sign up for the online Better Health, Better Choices programs.

This entry was posted on March 22, 2012, in News.

New FDA Guidelines Released For Biosimilars

The Food and Drug Administration released a guidelines draft for “biosimilars,” less expensive, “generic” versions which are closer to becoming available on pharmacy shelves

Biosimilars will be substitutes for biologic products already used to treat a variety of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and diabetes.

More information on the new regulations for biosimilars can be read at this link.

This entry was posted on March 21, 2012, in News.