Substance Abuse

Loperamide Abuse Emerging As A New Prescription Drug Problem

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According to research from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), roughly 44 people die every day due to overdose from prescription drugs.

Recently, FDA released a report that warns about taking high doses of over-the-counter and prescription drugs such as loperamide, which can lead to abuse and health problems. This stern warning stems from several cases of people who want to achieve heroin-like highs by turning to abusing loperamide.

In this article, we will discuss the emerging problem on loperamide abuse, and how it’s affecting the world at large.

What is loperamide?

Loperamide is an over-the-counter prescription drug used to control diarrhea, and it is available in liquid, tablet and capsule forms. Loperamide hydrochloride is an active ingredient that acts as an anti-motility drug, and works by slowing down the muscular contractions of the intestine.

Loperamide allows more time for water and electrolytes to be re-absorbed, making it effective to control and regulate the movement in the intestinal tract because it acts as a multi-opoid receptor.

The maximum approved dose of Loperamide for adults is 8 to 16 milligrams per day.

Concern on loperamide use

Because Loperamide is an opioid, it can induce adverse brain effects especially when consumed in massive amounts. This can be toxic and may lead to cardiac dysrhytmia and ileus, a form of paralysis of the intestine.

The American College of Emergency Physicians issued and released a case report that reveals how opiod addicts are leaning towards over-the counter medication to address their addiction, leading them to dangerous consequences. The report showcases the rise of use of loperamide as a recreational drug, which has already claimed lives.

The issue of loperamide abuse

Since 2011, the number of oral loperamide abuse posts in web-based forums has increased dramatically. Several of these online discussion boards talk about using loperamide for recreational purposes.

Loperamide abuse is a growing problem in the United States, and there is an increase in the usage of this drug to self-treat opioid addiction. In an online publication of Annals of Emergency Medicine, a case study was published to outline the history of substance abuse and its direct effect to massive loperamide addiction. The case study published in Annals of Emergency Medicine is authored by Dr. William Eggleston of the Upstate New York Poison Center.

The study outlined the case of two patients (with history of substance abuse) who are undergoing opioid withdrawal. Both patients called emergency services and were treated with standard Advance Cardiac Life Support. The research study discussed and documented two loperamide-induced deaths, and highlighted the extreme danger of loperamide abuse.

“Loperamide’s accessibility, low cost, over-the-counter legal status and lack of social stigma all contribute to its potential for abuse,” said Eggleston in a news release.

Loperamide is chemically designed not to have any psychoactive effects and it does not produce a high. High intake of loperamide can reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal but can generate heroin-like effects. Psychoactive effects are recognized when 10 or more loperamide doses more than the recommended amount are taken.

In related news, the Upstate New York Poison Center noted a dramatic increase in relation to loperamide abuse and misuse from 2011 through 2015.

Loperamide does not require a doctor's prescription for purchase.

Loperamide does not require a doctor’s prescription for purchase.

Effects of loperamide abuse

In 2014, more than 47,000 cases of drug overdose were recorded by the FDA. About 61 percent of these account for opioid drug abuse and misuse.

The epidemic and continuous rise of opioid addiction gave birth to another form of drug abuse for addicts who cannot get their hands on prescription painkillers. This drug of choice is anti-diarrhea medication, more popularly known as Imodium and Pepto.

The primary ingredient of these medicines is loperamide, which usually produces psychoactive effects when taken in high dosages. Overdosing on this particular medication can be toxic and life-threatening. Loperamide abuse and overdose can lead to health risks and heart problems.

One potential health issue is cardiac dysrhythmia, a heart ailment characterized by an abnormal heartbeat. It can potentially be life-threatening because the heart rate can range from low to high in a second. There are two classifications in the case of irregular heartbeats:

  • Bradycardia is a slow heart rhythm and is characterized under 60 beats per minute.
  • Tachycardia is a fast heart rhythm with over 100 beats per minute.

Another possible health effect of loperamide abuse is central nervous system and respiratory depression. This medical condition causes slow breathing to the point of stopping. This physiological depression of the central nervous system may result to a decreased heart beat and may lead to loss of consciousness, and eventually to coma and early death. This condition is usually caused by depressant drugs and drug overdose, and it leads to inhibited brain activity.

High dosage of loperamide can also increase the risk of kidney and liver failure, while withdrawal symptoms of the drug may lead to cardiovascular toxicity, severe anxiety and vomiting.

Actions to take against loperamide abuse

Loperamide is fast becoming a drug of choice because it is cheap and readily available over the counter. This is one of the reasons behind the unintended epidemic in the misuse of loperamide.

Based on all of the things mentioned above, the following actions may help address the growing problem on loperamide abuse:

  • It is important that health care professionals be made aware of this dilemma.
  • The federal government must work with health care officials to investigate on this particular drug abuse problem.
  • It is highly recommended to ensure that the use of these drugs should be monitored closely, and possible make loperamide a prescription drug to avoid unnecessary abuse of the medication.
  • Proper information dissemination is needed. All health officials should be aware of the increasing incidence of loperamide abuse and its cardiac toxicity.
  • The drug should be used with precaution and must be carefully directed to the consumers and patients. The proper use of loperamide should be between 8 to 16 milligrams a day, and no more. Anything higher than that must be monitored and prohibited.
Loperamide intake must be monitored closely.

Loperamide intake must be monitored closely.

Final words

Loperamide intake may be habit-forming and may increase a patient’s tolerance for the medicine. In case of loperamide abuse, urgently discontinue the drug and start the appropriate therapy for the patient. There is a high chance that the patient will undergo opioid withdrawal, and several symptoms may manifest such as excruciating physical pain, muscle ache, anxiety and diarrhea.

The biggest take home point in this discussion is that loperamide is an effective drug in treating gastrointestinal problems, and that’s why it’s readily available over the counter. However, since it has addictive properties especially when taken and consumed in large amounts, precaution is a must.

Patients advised to take loperamide must religiously follow the dosing recommendations as prescribed by the doctors and pharmacists. Also, loperamide usage should not taken lightly. Patients and consumers should take the medication only if advised by doctors and health care professionals.

[Loperamide tablets image by Kristoferb via Wikipedia Creative Commons]

Substance Abuse

Fentanyl Lacing Aggravates Danger of Recreational Drugs

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Known as an effective drug for relieving chronic pain, fentanyl is said to be stronger than morphine in providing anesthetic properties to moderate and lessen pain of medical patients. Its mechanism focuses on acting upon the brain and spinal cord receptors so that users may have higher pain threshold and lower reaction to pain.

The drug, once packaged into other forms of drugs like cocaine, invites additional danger to occasional and habitual recreational users given that they do not usually take fentanyl for its opioid function. With little to no knowledge of the effects of fentanyl on their health, recreational cocaine users might suffer from the severe impacts of fentanyl on their system.

In Ottawa, Canada, medical practitioners are alarmed by the increasing possibility of recreational drug users that may be affected by fentanyl intake in the form of cocaine. Given that recreational users may not immediately feel the effect of the drug on them, they might increase their intake, which could possibly lead to more harmful effects to their health.

Patients who are given fentanyl for pain management purposes are closely monitored by their doctors to ensure that there will be no side effects, as reported in this news article. This said, recreational drug users who are not aware that the substances they take in carry fentanyl could really be put in danger and might even die sooner than expected.

It is highly recommended that parents take charge in educating their children on fentanyl intake or any drug substances. To prevent harm and death related to drug abuse, elders, especially parents, should take responsibility of increasing the understanding and raising the consciousness of the youth in communities.

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Pet Health

Most Common Dog Diseases: Signs, Symptoms, Testing, and Treatment

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Like humans, dogs are also prone to sickness, infections, and health issues. Since they could not express how they feel, it is up to dog owners to assess any physical or personality changes that may indicate some medical conditions that could require a trip to the veterinarian’s clinic. Being equipped with as much information as possible could help detect these signs early on to prevent serious complications.

How To Tell If Your Dog is Sick

Strange behavioral changes are one of the first indicators that a dog may be sick and needs some medical attention. Dog owners who are most familiar with their dog’s habits could tell right away if their canine friend is not feeling well. Here are some common behavioral signs:

  • Sudden loss of interest in games or usual activities;
  • Lack of energy or enthusiasm;
  • Restlessness or irritability;
  • Withdrawal;
  • Sudden clinginess;
  • Frequent changes in position or location;
  • Uncharacteristic urination or elimination.

If these sudden changes are observed, dog owners should check for accompanying physical manifestations in order to determine the underlying problem.

Common Dog Diseases

Even the most well-cared dogs are susceptible to diseases and infections. As a dog owner, you need to be aware of the common ailments that afflict canines and to be able to identify the presenting signs and symptoms so that veterinary care can be sought immediately.  Here are some usual canine medical conditions and the symptoms to watch out for:

Heartworms

Heartworms are parasites (Dirofilariaimmitis) that live in a dog’s heart and infest the arteries. These parasites can grow to several inches and produce young ones that spread throughout the dog’s bloodstream.

A dog can get infested with heartworms when he is bitten by a mosquito with microfilaria. The larvae are deposited on his skin where they breed and enter the bloodstream through the veins. They grow into adult worms and reside in the dog’s heart. If the condition is left untreated, the dog could develop heart failure.

The symptoms of heartworm disease include persistent coughing, difficulty breathing, weakness and fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, and fainting. The illness can be diagnosed by using a simple blood test to check for the presence of microfilaria in the blood.

To treat heartworm infestations effectively, the dog usually has to be hospitalized. The vet would inject anti-heartworm drugs to kill the parasites. The treatment can be dangerous because when the adult worms die, they continue to reside in the heart chamber and the arteries where they eventually decompose. As a result, some dogs develop severe inflammation and respiratory failure that could lead to death.

Parvovirus

Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious viral disease that can be life-threatening. It attacks the dog’s cells and causes severe harm in the intestinal tract and the white blood cells. It can cause damage to heart muscles that lead to cardiac diseases.

It especially affects puppies and adolescent dogs that have not been immunized against the virus.  Some breeds including Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire terriers, and German shepherds have been found to be at increased risk of contracting the disease.

CPV is manifested through physical signs such as severe vomiting, loss of appetite, bloody and foul-smelling diarrhea, fatigue, fever, and enlargement of lymph nodes.

Some diagnostics need to be performed to ascertain whether a dog has been infected with CPV. These tests are:

Complete Blood Count

Dogs infected with CPV usually have low white blood cells. A result indicating below normal WBC count is indicative of the disease.

Fecal Antigen Test

The Canine Parvovirus Antigen Test Kit can detect any pathogenic strain of CPV in the dog’s fecal matter. It is highly recommended to test if puppies or unvaccinated dogs have been infected.

Currently, there are no drugs that can kill the virus. The remedies available only provide management of the symptoms to prevent secondary infections. Most dogs do not recover from the disease.

Fortunately, the infection can be prevented by vaccination which usually administered at 6 to 8 weeks of age with booster shots given until the puppy reaches 16 to 20 weeks of age.

Cancer

This is one of the diseases that scare dog parents the most but sadly, it is also becoming more prevalent among the canines, especially among older dogs. Certain breeds such as Boxers, Boston terriers, and Golden Retrievers have been observed to commonly develop a type of cancer called lymphoma.

The presenting signs of this complex disease include the appearance of lumps, persistent sores, abnormal discharges, bad breath, lethargy, unexplained weight loss, black stools, loss of appetite, sudden lameness, and difficulty of breathing.

To diagnose cancer, the veterinarian has to perform a needle biopsy to collect a sample of the tissues where the lump is located. The specimen is sent to a pathologist who conducts a thorough examination to determine whether there is a malignancy and to assess the stage of the disease. Other laboratory exams such as x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, urine tests, and blood tests are also helpful in arriving at the diagnosis.

Treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy.

dog diseases clinic

Diabetes

Diabetes is a complex disorder that is also common among dogs. It is characterized by increased levels of blood sugar that are caused by either underproduction of insulin (Type 1) or inadequate response to insulin (Type 2). Type 1 diabetes is more common.

The symptoms of the disease include changes in appetite, weight loss, increased thirst, dehydration, increased urination, vomiting, urinary tract infections, fatigue, cataract formation, and blindness. If left untreated, complications such as kidney disease and renal failure can result.

To arrive at a diagnosis of diabetes, the veterinarian will usually order laboratory exams such as blood tests and urinalysis. Meanwhile, a test kit called the PetConfirm Canine Combo can check for conditions such as diabetes, kidney diseases, and urinary tract infection. The kit also comes with a reusable P-Scoop Urine Collector, which makes urine collection hassle-free.

Another wellness kit which is non-invasive and pain-free is the PetConfirm – Instant General Wellness Health Home Testing Kit for Dogs. It can detect blood, glucose, and protein in the dog’s urine. It is also recommended for the screening of conditions such as diabetes, kidney diseases, and urinary tract infections.

Diabetes can be managed with oral medications, insulin injections, and dietary changes.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections are also common among dogs, with the females being more susceptible. Infections can occur in the lower urinary tract, in the bladder, or in the kidneys.

UTIs are caused by various types of bacteria or fungi that have entered the bladder or urethra. If left unchecked, the infections could spread to the kidneys and cause serious ailments.

Among the symptoms of UTIs are frequent urination, painful urination, incontinence, increased thirst, low-grade fever, fatigue, and depression.

To detect UTI, a urinalysis is usually performed. Dog owners can also resort to home test kits such as the PetConfirm – Instant Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Early Screening Home Urine Testing Kit For Dogs, which can detect early signs of UTI. Urine samples may be conveniently collected using the P-Scoop Extendable Dog Urine Collector.

The infections are normally treated using antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Some herbal remedies are also helpful.

Kidney Failure

When a dog has kidney failure, his body becomes unable to remove wastes from the blood. This causes toxins to build up in the blood, a condition called uremic poisoning. The disease can be acute or chronic.

Acute kidney failure occurs suddenly and is often an offshoot of a type of poisoning or a reaction to certain drugs. This type of disease is highly fatal and requires hospitalization.

Chronic kidney failure develops gradually and is more common. It is caused by a diet high in phosphorus and low in calcium. It may also occur secondarily to other conditions such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.

The common symptoms of acute kidney failure include dehydration, walking with stiff legs, arched back, and little or no urine output. On the other hand, chronic kidney failure may manifest signs such as increased thirst, frequent urination, pale appetite, weight loss, nausea or vomiting, constipation, and fatigue.

Kidney failure may be detected through a blood test that measures the concentrations of the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine levels. A veterinarian may also order a urine test.

Home test kits such as those mentioned in No. 4 are helpful for homeowners who can perform the screening in their homes before going to a veterinarian for confirmation tests. Because kidney failure can be fatal, early detection through regular screening can save or prolong the dog’s life.

Treatment of kidney failure includes fluid therapy to address dehydration. Dietary changes are also necessary. The dog must be fed foods that are low in protein, phosphorus, calcium, and sodium. These foods include eggs, cottage cheese, and milk.

Dogs are also prescribed Vitamin D supplements to improve phosphorus and calcium absorption.

Rabies

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that is transmitted through a dog bite or through contact with the saliva of an infected animal.

The typical symptoms of rabies include irritability, aggression, restlessness, biting or snapping, fever, hypersensitivity, loss of coordination, seizures, paralysis of the jaw muscles, paralysis of the hind legs, foaming at the mouth, excessive salivation, weakness, and loss of appetite.

There are no tests to confirm rabies in live animals so it is best to be aware of these symptoms. If the dog has been bitten by a wild animal, the veterinarian should be contacted immediately.

There are also no treatments for rabies and the infection results in death. However, the disease is preventable through vaccination.

dog rabies

Conclusion

These are some of the most common diseases that afflict canines. Knowing them helps the dog owners to recognize the symptoms and be prepared to administer the remedies when they become necessary. Also, understanding breed predispositions could provide information about what probable diseases to expect, and how to prevent them.

However, it is important to maintain regular check-ups, screenings, and vaccinations or booster shots to ensure that the pet has a strong immune system to avoid as well as combat infections.  Dog owners should invest in health and veterinary services to keep their dogs healthy.

Observing proper nutrition, regular exercise, supplementation regimens, and good habits are also some of the best ways to prevent dog diseases.

Substance Abuse

Kratom Ban Expanding In More U.S. States

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More states are on a mad rush to ban kratom, the new substance that serves as an opioid replacement and is a hundred times less deadly than synthetic opioids. Despite earlier accounts of the therapeutic effects of kratom, Alabama became the latest state to ban the plant and place its active ingredients on the controlled substance list, according to a news release.

Originating from Thailand and Malaysia, kratom is still relatively new in the United States. It was banned by the Thai government in 1943 due to fears that it could destroy the opium tax revenue that the nation depended on. With cannabis no longer on the list of banned substances, it looks like there is a new plant that is set to take its place.

Kratom is available in different varieties—red vein, green vein, and white vein. Popular branded capsules with different names such as Krave are already in circulation, prompting some states to ban the plant-based drug.

The American Kratom Association revealed that anti-kratom legislation is already in the works in the states of Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky. Democrat Senator Arthur Orr was the sponsor of the Alabama bill that placed kratom’s active ingredients mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine as Schedule I.

While natural kratom is a relatively harmless plant, the active ingredient mitragynine binds opioid brain receptors – the same receptors that react to morphine, heroin, and oxycodone. Although it is much less potent than painkillers or heroin, kratom has similar qualities such as withdrawal symptoms as well as the habit-forming nature that all opioids have. Mitragynine does not bind strongly as synthetic opioids, but the same principle applies.

If there is one redeeming quality of kratom, it has to be its ability to become a gateway drug in order to escape opioid addiction. It may come in handy to a pill popper or a heroin addict. Still, a lot of research may be needed to fully understand the controversial plant, including its benefits and risks.

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Pet Health

All You Need To Know About Dog Health

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The term “health is wealth” is applicable not only to humans but also to our canine friends.

Whether it’s an adult or a puppy, you would want your dog to have a clean bill of health. Dogs serve as your protector, exercise buddy, and companion. However, they will not be able to do all of these things if they are unhealthy.

In this article, we will discuss some tips and advice on keeping your dogs healthy.

dog ownership outdoors

Basic Health Requirements of Dogs

Just like humans, dogs have basic needs that should be addressed by their masters. This is necessary for them to stay healthy and continue doing the activities that they engage in.

Water

dog swimming

The amount of water that your dog will drink depends on certain factors:

  • Body size
  • Overall health
  • Level of activity
  • Age and diet
  • Air temperature and humidity

On the average, a healthy dog would need about 50 to 60 ml of water per kilogram of weight on a daily basis. An 18-kilogram canine needs to drink about a liter of water per day. For dogs that mostly rely on dry dog food, two liters of water a day is required.

You should watch out for any signs of dehydration, which include the following:

  • Dry nose
  • Dry gums (note that gums of a healthy dog are pink)
  • Wrinkling of skin if you pinch the back of the neck

In addition, be careful in giving too much or too little water to your dog. The former could put them at risk of infection or diabetes. The latter, on the other hand, might also put them at risk of an underlying illness like parvovirus infection or pancreatitis.

Food

dog food bowl safety

Not all foods are alike as far as dogs are concerned. Some of them cannot be easily digested by the dog. Examples of these foods include:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Chocolate or food that contains caffeine
  • Onion and garlic
  • Raw eggs and fish
  • Nutmeg, mushrooms, walnuts
  • Yeast dough

Dogs should be fed at least once every 24 hours. In the case of large breed dogs, they are prone to gastric dilation and hence should be fed smaller meals 2 to 3 times daily. After weaning, puppies should be fed at least thrice daily until they have reached two-thirds of their ideal adult weight and then two times a day until they reach their mature weight.

If you prefer feeding them a homemade diet, make sure that it is complete and has balanced nutrition. A properly formulated recipe must be used and should be appropriate to the life stage of the dog.

Shelter

dog sad alone in house

Dogs are prone to forming habits quickly. They will sleep in the same location where they were trained to do so. For indoor dogs, they need shelter with moderate temperature and well-ventilated. Outdoor dogs need a place that protects them from wind, rain, and other weather hazards. The house should allow the dog to enter completely, turn a full circle, and lie down.

Dogs prefer loose bedding such as straw. They need a place where they can sleep comfortably and will not get wet, especially during cold weather. The space should be kept clean and comfortable. It should have proper air circulation to prevent respiratory diseases. Dogs should be kept in a place where the temperature is as close to their comfort zone depending on their breed, age, and health status.

Signs of Health Issues

Depending on the breed, dogs may be prone to a variety of health issues. Some problems are more common than others. For instance, big dogs can experience bone and joint problems while smaller breeds are likely to experience organ and breathing problems. Here are some common health issues you need to watch out for:

Arthritis

This is the most common health issue in older dogs. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis but you can make it easy for your pet dog. You can help slow down the aging process as well as arthritis though proper diet and nutrition. For severe arthritis, consult a veterinarian for proper prescription.

Worms

Worms in dogs can lead to weight loss, swollen belly, diarrhea, and lack of energy. Your vet might be able to prescribe medicine for your dog. Make sure to regularly conduct fecal checks to be sure that all the worms are gone.

Allergies

There are different kinds of allergies in dogs. Watch out for any change in behavior. Symptoms could include lack of energy and cough or sneeze. Treatment of allergy requires changing the food of your dog and the shampoo you are using for bathing the dog.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a respiratory infection that can be easily transmitted from one dog to another during interaction. Common symptoms include lethargy, coughing, leaky nose and eyes and loss of appetite. Kennel cough can be prevented through the administration of vaccines.

Vomiting

Vomiting could be due to a number of factors. It is suggested to assess the behavior of your dog which caused them to vomit and see if there could be more serious issues. If there is nothing to worry about, they might just have eaten something. However, for persistent vomiting, you better have it checked out by a vet.

 Obesity

Obesity is something that is easily noticeable. You need to pay attention to your dog’s weight and have it checked regularly. You can keep obesity in check through a change a diet and regular exercise. Make sure to consult your vet before making drastic changes in diet.

Common Dog Diseases

Some dogs are susceptible to diseases. Thanks to the availability of dog vaccines, what used to be prevalent diseases have become less common. Puppies can be vaccinated as early as 4 to 6 weeks depending on the situation and the advice of the vet. The milk of the mother can also give puppies disease-fighting antibodies which can last for up to 16 weeks.

dog health veterinarian

Here are some common diseases that can afflict dogs:

Diabetes

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs include changes in appetite, excessive thirst, and vomiting. If not treated right away, diabetes results to urinary tract infection (UTI) and cataract.

You should take your dog to the vet for regular insulin injections.  Oral medications and a high-fiber diet can also reverse the effects of diabetes. You may also find help in home testing kits for dogs.

Cancer

Just like in humans, cancer is one of the biggest dog killers and one of the most expensive to treat. It account for 50% of disease-related pet deaths. Symptoms of dog cancer include unusual odor, lumps, drastic weight loss, and lasting behavioral changes.

Rabies

The development of vaccines has somehow controlled the prevalence of rabies among different dog breeds. Still, your dogs are at risk of rabies even if they have received their shots. Symptoms include heavy, thick drool, and aggressive behavior. Make sure your dogs get their shots yearly.

Distemper

Canine distemper is due to a highly contagious, airborne virus. It affects the dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous systems. Symptoms include runny eyes and nose, fever, cough, and diarrhea. It often leads to nervous twitching, paralysis, and seizure.

Hepatitis

Hepatitis in dogs affects the liver, kidney, and blood vessels. It is a viral disease that is transmitted through urine, feces, or saliva of infected animals. Symptoms of hepatitis include fever, swollen tissues, and hemorrhage.

Corona

Corona affects the gastrointestinal tract and has symptoms that are similar to parvovirus infection but milder and can be effectively treated.

Importance of Proper Dog Nutrition

Proper nutrition is vital in ensuring the health of your canine pet. Given the variety of options to choose from in the market, deciding on what to feed your dog can be a difficult choice. Aside from doing some research, you may also consult your veterinarian on the best nutrition to give your dog.

dog feeding

Generally, there are two choices when it comes to healthy dog diet, namely home-prepared and commercially available. Let us differentiate the two.

Home-prepared food

Preparing home-prepared diets requires more time and research on your part. While they may be great alternatives to commercially available nutrition, incorrect preparation can put your dog at risk.

Commercially -available food products

For those who are not into home-prepared dog food, there is kibble or canned options available. Just make sure that the diet should have high meat content or some of the ingredients should at least have meat.

When looking for proper nutrition for your dog, you can check out different websites or forums. They often have recommendations on what is the best food for your dog.

Dog/Health Maintenance Tips

Just like bringing your toddler or infant to the pediatrician, a regular visit to the veterinarian can help monitor any conditions or behavior that can affect your dog’s overall health and well-being. In the same way, regularly visiting your vet is one of the best ways you can ensure the health and well-being of your canine pet.

Sending your dog to the vet regularly offers a wide range of benefits:

1. Early Disease Detection

A regular visit to the vet paves the way for early detection of any serious illness. This way, if the vet suspects that your pet is in an early stage of a disease, treatment can be started earlier thus preventing it from developing into its later stages.

2. Prevention Can Be Planned

Another advantage of regular visits to the vet is that once the disease is detected, the vet can come up with the right prevention plan for your pet for the coming years. They can recommend the right product, give the right dosage, or suggest alternative treatment methods.

3. Correct Bad Habits

Regular consultation with your veterinarian provides the perfect opportunity to discuss important issues regarding your pet dog. If there is behavior that needs corrective action, the vet is the right person to recommend the right course of action for such behavior.

dog fight bite

Conclusion

Some people consider dogs as part of the family. They give them a nice place to stay, provide them with the most nutritious food, and even buy clothes and toys for them. Just like the way they will treat humans, owners want to make sure that their pet dogs are in the best state of health.

By having knowledge of common diseases, issues, and basic needs, dog owners would be able to understand ways on how to provide the best care for their pet canine.

Helpful online resources:

https://www.lovethatpet.com/dogs/health/basic-preventative-health/

http://www.ctsanimals.ca/va1040/com/assets/data/pdf/kennel/needToKnow1d_10.pdf

http://www.caninejournal.com/dog-health-issues/

https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/4h/4-h-852-w.pdf

http://www.dogster.com/dog-food/dog-nutrition

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Health & Wellness Substance Abuse

Breast Cancer Treatment Effectiveness Decreased By Cigarette Smoking

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Smoking may reduce the effectiveness of breast cancer treatment.

This was according to new research, which revealed that smoking had little or zero effect on the benefit of other drugs, such as chemotherapy or tamoxifen as well as radiation treatment. However, lead researcher Helena Jernstrom revealed in a news release that the findings of the study need confirmation. When confirmed, smoking status must be considered when choosing the kind of breast cancer therapy.

In breast cancer patients taking aromatase inhibitors, smokers were three times at risk of their cancer returning than nonsmokers, the researchers revealed. However, the study could not develop a cause-and-effect link.

Common aromatase inhibitors such as Arimidex (anastrozole), Aromasin (exemestane), and Femara (letrozole) hindered the production of estrogen in postmenopausal women. It lowers the amount of estrogen needed for the stimulation of the hormone receptor-positive breast cancer cells.

Hormone receptor-positive breast cancer is the most common type of breast cancer, which accounts for 2 of every 3 cases. The American Cancer Society reveals that early detection and treatment can mean 100 percent survival of the patients for more than five years.

The study involved more than 1,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer in a 10-year period from 2002 to 2012. From that number, 1 in 5 women were found to be smoking before breast cancer surgery. The research revealed that women 50 years and up who underwent treatment with aromatase inhibitors fared considerably worse during the follow up period if they smoked than if they didn’t.

As only a small percentage of smokers quit during the treatment, Jenstrom said that there is no information on whether quitting smoking while taking aromatase inhibitors will increase the effectiveness of the drug.

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Drug Testing Substance Abuse

Heroin Abuse Truths, Detection, and Treatment

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Heroin addiction has become a serious epidemic in the United States. The report entitled “Results from the 2014 National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health” prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Services (SAMHSA) showed that for that year, about 586,000 people of ages 12 or older  who were living in the country had a heroin use disorder.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported similar findings and pointed out that between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths had quadrupled. In 2013 alone, more than 8,200 people died from heroin overdose.

Following the warnings issued by the CDC, the White House called for intensified efforts to address the growing crisis and to prevent further escalation of the heroin abuse problem.

Heroin Use and Addiction

Heroin is a highly addictive substance that is synthesized from morphine. The latter is derived from the opium that naturally occurs in an Asian poppy plant. After being chemically processed, heroin is sold in white or brown powder form. It can also take the form of a black sticky substance (black tar heroin). Black tar heroin, however, is tainted with other substances such as coffee, burned cornstarch, or dextrose.

The drug may be smoked, snorted, or injected directly into the veins. When used intravenously, it is two to four times more potent than morphine.

Heroin may be introduced intravenously via injection.

Heroin may be introduced intravenously via injection.

Regardless of the manner of ingestion, the substance enters the brain rapidly where it is quickly converted back to morphine. It then binds itself to the opioid receptors, the cells in the brain which are associated with perceptions of pain and reward. The effects are similar to those caused by prescriptive opioid analgesics.

When administered intravenously, users immediately experience a “rush” or an elevated sense of pleasure and euphoria that can occur within a few seconds from the use. This is followed by a feeling of calmness and the users would shift between states of drowsiness and wakefulness.  Heroin is used and abused for the “rush” or pleasurable feelings that the drug elicits.

Immediate Effects of Heroin

Aside from experiencing euphoria, followed by a sense of general well-being and calmness, users have also reported negative effects. These include dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, flushed skin, and clouded mental abilities. Soon after, the users are likely to experience a different set of symptoms. The “delayed” symptoms include drowsiness, slowed breathing, slowed heart rate, heaviness of the extremities, and uncontrollable itching of the skin.

Heroin overdose can cause a suppression of breathing that affects the delivery of oxygen to the brain. It can also cause respiratory depression. Both effects are fatal and can lead to coma, permanent brain damage, and death.

Long-Term Consequences

Various studies have been conducted to determine the long-term effects of heroin use disorder. Among the effects that have been established are the following:

Health consequences

Heroin abuse has been linked to a number of serious health risks and medical complications. These include bronchial and lung infections such as pneumonia, liver diseases such as hepatitis, kidney diseases, heart diseases, collapsed veins, skin abscesses and infections, arthritis, seizures, constipation, and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Sharing of needles among fellow drug users also tremendously increases the chances of contracting HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne viruses.

Pregnant women are at risk of miscarriage and premature birth. They also place the unborn child at risk of low birth weight and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS is a condition where a child is born with drug dependence and exhibits withdrawal symptoms.

Among non-pregnant women, heroin abuse can cause hormonal imbalance and inconsistent menstrual cycles.

In addition, those who consume street heroin are at a high risk of overdose and death because these variants may be mixed with other addictive and toxic substances.

Tolerance and addiction

Chronic use of heroin can lead to tolerance and a user will need to use higher amounts of the substance in order to achieve the same results. Over time, he will develop a physiological dependence on heroin which is manifested by an uncontrollable compulsion to consume the drug despite knowledge of its harmful effects. This compulsive behavioral pattern is called substance use disorder, abuse, or addiction.

As with other cases of substance use disorder, the abuser will experience several withdrawal symptoms whenever he tries to quit using the drug. These symptoms include restlessness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, body malaise, cold sweats, chills, involuntary spasms, muscle and bone pain, fever, and intense drug cravings. These can manifest anywhere between 6 to 24 hours from discontinuation of drug use.

Heroin is extremely addictive and regardless of the chosen route of administration, a user has a high probability of developing tolerance and dependence. Once addicted to the substance, an abuser’s solitary objective is to use the drug.

Behavioral and social changes

Heroin addiction substantially affects a person’s behavior and character. As an abuser’s life revolves around drug use, drug acquisition, and recovery from use, his daily routines and concerns are significantly altered.

Addicts may begin to display sudden changes in behavior such as lying, stealing, underperformance in school or work, loss of motivation, loss of self-esteem, lack of concern for personal appearance and hygiene, lack of interest in hobbies and social activities, disassociation from friends and family members, and hostile behavior.

These changes will give rise to more serious problems that are likely to upset his family and home life, interpersonal relationships, employment, social standing, and financial stability or status.

Effects on the brain

Some research studies have shown that repeated use of heroin alters both the physical structure and function of the brain. These changes can lead to long-term neuronal and hormonal imbalances that are difficult to reverse.

Heroin use disorder also causes a corrosion of the brain’s white matter. This affects the person’s ability to make decisions, analyze and solve problems, control behavior, and cope with stressful situations and environments.

Heroin abuse affects a person's brain, health, and psyche.

Heroin abuse affects a person’s brain, health, and psyche.

Detection and Diagnosis

Knowing the initial signs and symptoms of heroin use and addiction can help a person detect if a family member, friend, or co-worker is abusing the drug. Tell-tale physical indicators include flushed skin, vomiting, sweating, and shallow breathing.

The behavioral changes that indicate drug abuse include impaired reasoning and judgment, changes in mood, aggression, irritability, depression, neglect of appearance, underperformance in work or school, financial problems, frequent lying, and criminal tendencies.

Heroin addicts also use a number of paraphernalia such as syringes, hypodermic needles, spoons, cotton or q-tips, cigarette filters, lighters, aluminum foil, glass or metal pipes, and rubber balloons where they sometimes store heroin. Finding these in their possession or hidden in their drawers or medical cabinets strongly suggest that they are abusing heroin.

The drug is retained in the body and may be detected via drug test within 24 to 48 hours from last use. A urine test is the most common method for determining whether a person has recently smoked or ingested an opioid. A hair opiate test may detect heroin for up to 90 days from the last use.

What’s great about recent developments in the field of heroin drug testing is that home-based test kits are now available in the market. Some of these products include IDenta Confirm Heroin Substance Detector and iCassette Premium Complete OPI2000 Urine Drug Test Kit.

Aside from these standard drug tests, a person suspected of heroin use must also be evaluated by a physician or drug counselor to confirm whether or not he suffers from heroin use disorder.

Treatment Options

Treatment options are available for heroin abuse including behavioral and pharmacological approaches. Either treatment method may be resorted to in order to re-establish a person’s normal brain functions. For most abusers, however, a combination of both approaches is necessary to achieve effective results.

Below is a brief discussion of these therapies:

Pharmacological treatment

Research investigations have established that the use of medications in the treatment of opioid and heroin addiction effectively manages withdrawal symptoms, promotes abstinence and supports retention of learning gained from behavioral therapies.

During the detoxification phase or the period during which the body eliminates the effects of the drug, a patient experiences withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be managed or relieved by the administration of certain medications. Some of the medicines that have been clinically proven to be effectual are the following:

  1. Methadone

Methadone is a slow-acting opioid agonist that has been used to treat heroin addiction since the 1960s. It is designed to deliver the same effects of an opioid but at lower doses to control drug cravings until the patient can successfully wean off the substance.

  1. Buprenorphine

This drug also suppresses drug cravings but unlike other opioids, it averts harmful side effects. Like Methadone, it is also administered orally and as such, prevents the “rush” or “high” that is produced by heroin or other opioid drugs.

  1. Naltrexone

Naltrexone works by blocking the opioid receptors and preventing the drug from taking an effect on the patient. It is non-addictive. Recently, the FDA approved a long-acting formulation in an injectable form called Vivitrol which is administered once a month.

  1. Naloxone

As with Naltrexone, Naloxone also blocks the effects of opioids. It is used as an emergency treatment to reverse the effects of heroin overdose. It is available in injectable and nasal spray forms.

Behavioral therapies

Following detoxification and withdrawal, a patient must undergo behavioral therapies that involve counseling sessions delivered individually or in group sessions. These forms of counseling are available in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Therapists utilize a number of psychotherapy approaches to help the patients develop coping mechanisms, self-control, and new life skills, among others. The goals of behavioral therapies include strengthening the patient’s motivation and commitment to treatment, helping him sustain abstinence, and rebuilding his self-esteem to enable him to regain a normal and productive life.

The various techniques include contingency management, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivation enhancement therapy, 12-step facilitation therapy, and family counseling.

In addition to group support programs, specialized treatment facility centers also offer various outdoor, sports, and recreational activities to help patients utilize exercise as a stress-coping technique.

Other forms of therapies include journalizing, art, drama, music, yoga, and meditation.

Heroin addicts need the help of their loved ones during recovery.

Heroin addicts need the help of their loved ones during recovery.

The Bottom Line

It is possible to recover from heroin abuse and to regain a normal life. However, in order to find the light at the end of the tunnel, an addict must first confront the problem head on and seek professional help. Sadly, most users are unaware of their deteriorating conditions and the inception of their treatment often lies in the hands of their family members, friends, and loved ones who must initiate intervention mechanisms.

As government agencies, state authorities, and private sectors contribute various efforts to combat this national epidemic, private individuals in the home, school, or workplace must also rise to join the battle. Anyone who suspects a loved one to be in danger of heroin abuse must strive to help address the issue by reaching out to the proper rehabilitation centers and health professionals for assistance.

If every person and sector in society is actively involved in this fight, the crisis can be conquered by saving one life at a time.

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Medical Marijuana Substance Abuse

TestCountry Talks About Synthetic Marijuana in K2 Spice Webinar

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The global threat of illicit drugs continues to instill fear and grip the hearts of millions of individuals who have witnessed the adverse effects of drug abuse. Amidst the huge number of substances being abused in today’s generation, more and more drugs are coming up every so often, reeling in more victims and destroying more families.

It is in this light that TestCountry decided to launch a webinar about synthetic marijuana (more commonly known as K2 or Spice). The webinar discusses some facts about synthetic marijuana, its effects on the human body, and its impact on society.

Here’s a snippet of the synthetic marijuana webinar:

Synthetic marijuana can be made with hundreds of different liquid chemicals that are blended with Acetone and then sprayed onto dried, shredded plant material. Commercial chemistry labs mostly concentrated in China and Pacific Rim countries produce these chemicals on-demand for distributors. K2 can be more potent than natural THC, potentially having much more dangerous side effects.

Watch the webinar through this link.

Addiction Home Health Hazards Substance Abuse

Is Kratom Use Good or Bad for Your Health?

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Controversy is now surrounding the use of a relatively new drug called Kratom. While it has been used for thousands of years in some Asian countries, it has not been introduced in Europe and the United States until recently. Debates abound as to the benefits and adverse effects of ingesting the substance.

While it is becoming more popular among Americans who use it for both medical and recreational purposes, there is a pronounced lack of research and clinical data to support the claims of its therapeutic properties.

Since further studies on the benefits, drawbacks, and safety of Kratom use are yet to be pursued, users of Kratom and the public in general, are strongly advised to be armed with the available information about the substance.

What is Kratom?

Kratom or ketum refers to a tropical, evergreen tree of the coffee family that thrives in the jungles of several Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Bali, and Sumatra. It is scientifically called Mitragyna speciosa and its leaves contain potent amounts of compounds called alkaloids.

In Asia, the substance is ingested by chewing the leaves, whether raw or dried. Most users, however, prefer to crush the leaves and dissolve the powder in liquids such as water. The leaves themselves may also be brewed into a tea.

kratom abuse

In the United States, Kratom may be purchased in leaf form but the drug is more commonly sold in capsules that contain the powdered material. It may be taken by either smoking the powder from the capsule or drinking the tea brewed from the leaves. More ingenious users, however, extract a resin from the evaporated water of the Kratom tea and convert the substances to pellets which can be swallowed.

Others mix Kratom with drinks or food to mask the bitter taste. Among the popular practices are mixing or blending the substance with yogurt, peanut butter, honey, juice, chocolate drinks, and milkshakes.

The reported effects of Kratom are contradicting and vary according to the amounts taken. Lower doses promote a stimulating effect while higher doses produce a sedating outcome.

Reported Uses of Kratom

Kratom was first documented by a Dutch botanist named Pieter Korthals in 1839. The substance was traditionally used in some parts of Asia for its various medicinal properties. Currently, it is used both for both recreational and therapeutic purposes.

Here are some of its known uses:

Traditional medicine

The use of Kratom was initially explored in Thailand where it was incorporated into traditional medicinal practices to treat maladies such as diarrhea, chronic pain, and anxiety. In earlier years, it was commonly used by laborers to boost their moods and energy levels after long hours at work. Later, it was utilized to treat opioid dependence.

In neighboring countries, Kratom has been used to cure other illnesses such as intestinal infections, muscle pain, and cough.

Pain reliever

Two of the alkaloids contained in Kratom called Mitragynine and 7-OH-mitragynine have strong analgesic properties. Though the effect produced is less potent than morphine, the drug is still effective in the treatment of chronic pain.

Among the conditions that can be efficiently managed by Kratom are migraines, back pain, chest pain, neck pain, vascular pain, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, scoliosis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

While Kratom is not classified as an opiate, it behaves similarly to opiates. Thus, it has been used as a substitute for opium in some areas like Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries whenever the latter is not available.

In the United States, many users have resorted to Kratom as an alternative to prescription drug medications such as methadone and other opioids.

Treatment of opiate withdrawal

Kratom works by binding mu opioid and delta receptors in the brain. It has been said to affect a user the same way that opiates do. As such, it may be effective in the treatment of opioid dependence. It has been said to be valuable for the management and suppression of opiate withdrawal symptoms including cravings, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.

However, though there has been a significant increase in the number of users who prefer Kratom as a remedy to relieve withdrawal symptoms that arise from chronic opioid use, there is a lack of significant clinical studies to merit a conclusion as to the efficacy of Kratom in the treatment and management of opioid addiction.

Sexual performance enhancer

Several users claim that using Kratom promotes sexual endurance and performance. The alkaloids in Kratom extracts aid in enhancing libido and sexual pleasure among both men and women.

In Thailand, it is also customarily used to prevent premature ejaculation during sexual intercourse. It has been reported that consuming even as little as one gram of Kratom powder can boost the libido for as long as 12 hours.

Anti-depressant

When used appropriately, some strains of Kratom have stimulating effects that help uplift moods and promote feelings of satisfaction. The substance is said to be beneficial for those undergoing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and similar conditions.

Taking too much of drug, however, can produce the exact opposite effect as ingesting large doses of Kratom is known to induce sedation.

Cognitive enhancer

Many users claim that Kratom produces energizing effects similar to caffeine. The stimulating effects support improved focus, concentration, and memory. The drug has been found to promote cognitive functions and to enhance mental acuity. Some users who exhibit ADHD symptoms have reported that using the substance has helped them focus on challenging mental activities. It is said to be more efficient than most nootropic supplements in the market.

Relaxant and sedative

Consuming larger doses of Kratom leaves or extracts can promote calmness and relaxation. It helps to manage stress, anxiety, and tension. The drug is also known to improve sleep quality. Many users claim that taking Kratom helps them sleep for longer periods but it does not give them a “hangover” feeling in the morning. Thus, many prefer using the substance over prescription sedatives.

Recreational use

In recent years, recreational use of Kratom has spread over the United States. Users claim that Kratom emulates the effects of MDMA and low-dose marijuana but produces the right balance of relaxation and stimulation. Young professionals maintain that using the drug is a good way to unwind after a long day at work.

It has also become a social drug as its effects help users feel more outgoing and energized during gatherings or social activities.

Adverse Effects

While most users in the United States do not report having encountered any problems with using Kratom, consumption of the substance at higher or more frequent doses may produce adverse reactions. Some of the side effects include dry mouth, nausea, reduced appetite, sleeping disorders, bowel obstruction, and darkening of the skin.

In Southeast Asia, however, where the use of the drug is more widespread, there have been accounts of more severe reactions such as delusion, aggression, and schizophrenia. Chronic users have also reported experiencing withdrawal symptoms that include irritability, weight loss, insomnia, diarrhea, muscle spasms, and fever. It is suspected that these effects were brought about by either having ingested the substance in larger doses or having used Kratom in conjunction with other drugs or intoxicating beverages.

Whether or not Kratom is highly addictive is largely debated. Narconon asserts that habitual use can increase tolerance and develop compulsion or addiction. Because of the reports gathered from other countries where it is largely consumed, it is recommended that users exercise caution in taking Kratom. It is advised that the drug should not be used more than twice a week to reduce the possibility of developing dependence.

New users should not attempt to experiment with larger doses as the physiological effects of the drug vary from person to person.

In addition, using the substance in conjunction with other drugs and opiates is strongly discouraged as overstimulation can result in increased blood pressure. When used with sedatives or benzodiazepines, it can cause over-sedation, central nervous system depression, and respiratory distress.

There has, however, been no reported case of overdose or death arising from the use of Kratom.

Legality of Kratom Use

Although the use of Kratom has been accepted to be part of Thailand’s culture and traditional practices, it has actually been outlawed since 1943 when the Kratom Act was passed. The law criminalized possession of Kratom leaves, planting, and cultivating Kratom plants.

However, implementing the law posed an enormous challenge to the Thai government because eradication efforts included setting fire to rainforests where the trees naturally flourish. The results were detrimental to the wildlife and ecosystems of the country.

In 1979, Kratom was included in the Narcotics Act and was classified as a Category 5 substance. Regulatory efforts continue to persist in Thailand where the use of the substance is most prevalent.

Kratom is illegal in other countries such as Malaysia, Myanmar, Australia, and Denmark.

In the United States, Kratom has not been declared illegal by the Federal Government. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Kratom is currently not included in any of the categories under the Controlled Substances Act.

Some states, however, have passed legislation prohibiting use and possession of Kratom. The jurisdiction includes Alabama, Indiana, Vermont, Illinois, and Tennessee.

In other parts of the country, Kratom continues to be available for purchase whether over the counter at various shops, or over the internet. No license or prescription is required to buy, possess or use the drug. Some users previously imported the leaves from some Asian Pacific countries until 2015, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated this practice by issuing directives for the immediate seizure of such shipments from listed vendors.

There have been increasing reports of emergency room visits resulting from Kratom use. The patients either complained of adverse reactions to the substance or of withdrawal symptoms. But more statistical data and scientific information are needed before the drug can be appropriately classified. The same information will validly determine whether regulatory or criminal legislation must be passed and enforced.

In the meantime, medical practitioners are rushing to find whatever resources they could to enable them to manage and treat patients who may present signs of Kratom tolerance, dependence, or withdrawal.

It is hoped that current users of Kratom who take it either as an alternative to prescription drugs or as a choice for recreational habits would use the substance responsibly and moderately to avert the negative effects that are already known or published.

Health & Wellness

Study: Higher Risk Of Death In People With Heart Disease and Diabetes

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Findings of a new research from a global study revealed that the combination of Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease can be lethal.

Spearheaded by a physician from UConn Health, the study concluded that patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes admitted into the hospital for congestive heart disease have a 1-in-4 chance of dying within the next one and a half years. The new findings present a grim picture of the outcome of diabetes patients with severe heart diseases.

Dr. William B. White, who is the study’s principal investigator, said that patients diagnosed with both acute coronary syndrome and Type 2 diabetes require more attention to prevent a cardiac attack. Dr. White is also a professor at the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at UConn Health. He also adds that congestive heart failure is likely for people with Type 2 Diabetes, as reported in a news release.

With these new findings, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now requires all new diabetes drugs to be formally tested for their potential effects on heart and stroke outcomes.

Patients with Type 2 diabetes are two to three times at risk of heart disease compared to the general population. This is attributed to obesity and other illnesses such as hypertension and high cholesterol levels which can lead to both diseases. The hormone insulin is also reportedly a contributor to heart disease. Insulin is needed by patients with Type 2 diabetes for their treatment.

The results of the new study were presented during the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) in New Orleans. It was also published online in the ADA journal Diabetes Care.

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