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The results from a new six year study may bring hope for those who have been forced to use dangerous drugs like statins to lower their cholesterol levels.

Whereas statins reduce LDL cholesterol by preventing it from being made, ezetimibe achieves the same result by preventing LDL cholesterol from being absorbed. The study, discussed at the annual meeting of theAmerican Heart Association, separated subjects into two groups – a group given statins and a group given the new drug ezetimibe. The statin group ended with an LDL of 69, while the ezetimibe group had an average LDL of 54. The second group also suffered 6.4 percent fewer cardiac incidents, such as heart attacks, strokes, and severe chest pain. One prominent observer called the outcome “fantastic” and “a truly spectacular result for patients.”

Statins

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Thrombosis, or blood clots as they are colloquially known, tend to manifest naturally in men more than women. Women, however, are at risk for blood clots primarily because of pregnancy, birth control, and other hormonal therapies men do not generally take, according to StopTheClot.org.

Birth control pills are the most common form of contraceptive used in the U.S., and carry a high risk of blood clotting. Women who take birth control pills are generally three to four times more likely of developing a blood clot than women who do not take the pill.

It should be noted that the chance of a woman developing a blood clot as a result of taking birth control pills is still relatively small. Only about one in 3,000 women develop a blood clot because of birth control, but if a woman has a history of thrombosis in her family, the risk increases significantly.

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A breakthrough in the medical community came for migraine sufferers this November, according to MedicalXPress.com. A study from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine found that nerves in the brains of patients who suffered migraines show abnormalities of the “myelin sheath that serves as insulation around nerve fibers,” MedicalXPress.com reports. The study involved observing 15 patients who underwent a surgical treatment that attempted to reduce the negative effects of serious migraines, and included electron microscopy that assessed the structure of cell nerves in patient's brains. The study also examined the presence and function of cranial proteins in migraine patients.

Ultimately, the study found that patients whose myelin sheath was damaged were more likely to suffer migraines. As a result, one doctor in the study “developed migraine surgery techniques after noticing that some migraine patients had reduced headache activity after cosmetic forehead-lifting.” This type of cosmetic surgery removes some of the muscle and vessel tissue surrounding cranial nerves.

This is great news for people who suffer migraines because migraine drugs have long been very prone to negative side effects in patients. According to Healthline, painkillers, often prescribed and taken for migraines, can have severe side effects affecting the stomach and kidneys and can result in heart attack or stroke. Because these painkillers are so common, doctors sometimes neglect to make their patients aware of how serious of a drug they can be if misused.

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Many risks of anti-depressants are relatively well-known and publicized. One of the most common side effects of anti-depressants occurs when expectant mothers take them. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) have a very high risk of resulting in birth defects in a newborn, reports the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institute for Health (NIH).

By some estimates, between 20 and 30 percent of newborns who are “exposed to SSRIs towards the end of gestation have disorders such as agitation, abnormal muscle tone and suction, seizures and hypornatraemia.” This research was first made public in late 2005, according to NIH, and immediately pregnant women who were taking SSRIs were advised to seek alternative therapies and, in some cases, even encouraged to reevaluate the diagnosis.

And yet birth defects, while perhaps the best-known side effects of SSRIs, may not be the most severe or serious. According to a publication from the Harvard Medical School, SSRIs can also result in serious physical symptoms ranging from insomnia to stomach issues, skin rashes, and joint or muscle pain. The risk of internal bleeding is approximately the same as it is with NSAIDs, found in common medications such as aspirin and naproxen.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its largest recall of medical products ever in 2014, according to the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS). The recall, posted to the FDA's website in August, was of 233 Class I products manufactured by Puerto Rico-based Customed.

The FDA classifies medical devices and products into three categories: Class I have the least potential to harm a user—Class III products are usually those that sustain life. Class I examples can include bandages, enema kits, and any medical product not necessary to keep a person's vital organs functioning. Nearly half of all medical products on the market are classified into Class I, according to the FDA.

The devices recalled by Customed were recalled because of packaging flaws. The products were primarily sterile convenience packs; the recall was initiated because of “adhesion in the sterile packaging,” according to RAPS. If the product was used on a patient, it had the potential to not be sterile and lead to infection, though as of September, no cases had been discovered of a person suffering an infection or side effects because of Customed products. The FDA generally does not wait until a case of injury has been discovered to recall medical products; once the manufacturer is aware of the problem, it is responsible to initiate a recall immediately.

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