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ACE Inhibitor May Cut Diabetics' Heart Risk

April 06, 1998

People with diabetes and hypertension who receive an angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor have a dramatically lower risk of heart attacks and stroke compared with those who receive the calcium channel blocker amlodipine, according to researchers from the University of Tennessee in Memphis.

Half of all diabetics have hypertension and as a result, have a high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Marco Paho and his colleagues studied 380 patients, half of whom received the ACE inhibitor fosinopril and half who received amlodipine.

Over the 3 1/2 years of the study, they report in the April issue of Diabetes Care, those who received fosinopril had 51% fewer major cardiovascular events, including heart attacks, strokes and angina requiring hospitalization.

Effects of Smoking May Harm Women More Than Men

Smoking is more dangerous in women than in men, according to a report in the April 3 British Medical Journal. Dr. Eva Prescott and her colleagues at the Kommunehospitalet in Copenhagen studied 24,000 men and women for 12 years.

They found that the smoking-related risk of a heart attack was 50% higher in women than in men of the same age. They suggested that women may be more susceptible to the harmful effects of smoking, perhaps because of an interaction between hormones and the components of tobacco smoke.

CDC Sets Down Guidelines for Women's Iron Needs

Federal health officials last week issued their first recommendations for preventing, detecting and treating iron deficiencies in women and children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said adolescent girls and women of childbearing age should get 15 milligrams of iron a day through their diets.

Only about one-fourth of this group gets the recommended amount, the CDC said. Women of childbearing age should be screened for iron deficiency anemia, which affects 3% to 5% of women, it said in a statement.

Pregnant women should take low-dose iron supplements to meet the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance for them--30 milligrams of iron per day. Women need more iron during pregnancy because of growth of the fetus, placenta and other maternal issues; failure to get enough can cause premature births or low birth weights.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the United States, affecting 7.8 million adolescent girls and women of childbearing age. It also affects 700,000 children aged 1 to 2, the CDC said.

Another Effect of Wet Weather: Mold

The California Department of Health Services warned last week that because of the unusually wet winter, many homeowners are now finding mold in unusual places including on window frames and sills, and along baseboards and walls. Molds increase the risk of asthma and allergies, and produce symptoms such as watery and itchy eyes, sore throat, cough, nasal and sinus congestion, and headaches.

To remove the mold, the department recommends using a solution of one cup of bleach per gallon of water. Wear protective clothing and rubber gloves, and provide adequate ventilation.

Four Supplements a Day May Keep Disease Away

Taking four supplements a day--vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium and a multivitamin containing folic acid--could cut people's risk of having a heart attack by 40%, protect vision during aging, prevent 50,000 hip fractures annually, and reduce by half the number of babies born every year with neural tube defects such as spina bifida, according to a report released last week.

"We now have a substantial body of data showing that if everyone took a few supplements every day, they could significantly lower their risk of a multitude of serious diseases," said Dr. David Heber of UCLA, one of the study's authors. The report, released by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, concluded that most Americans do not get all the nutrients they need in their normal diets.

On-the-Job Coffee Cup May Be Brewing Bacteria

That coffee cup you use at work may be harboring a broad variety of bacteria, some of them quite dangerous, according to a new study by microbiologists Charles Gerba and Ralph Meer of the University of Arizona. They swabbed dishes, sinks, cups, dishrags, sponges, counters and spoons in a dozen offices in Tucson.

They reported in Dairy Food and Environmental Sanitation that 40% of the cups had unhealthy bacteria, especially cups with lids, which they described as particularly effective breeding grounds. Sponges and sinks were a prime source of the bacteria, which could readily be transferred to eating utensils. They recommended cleaning with hot, soapy water followed by bleach.

--Compiled by THOMAS H. MAUGH II

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