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Weekly News Summary – 29th August 2017

Welcome back to this week’s new edition of the news summary blog. We keep you up to date with all the need-to-know health news. This edition will cover the key health stories from 21st to 28th August. This week a study has indicated that gum disease may be linked to developing Alzheimer’s disease. A group of researchers have also suggested that doctors should test patients’ urine to make sure they are taking medication and a new anti-inflammatory drug has been found to cut the risk of suffering a heart attack.

A Taiwanese study has found that people with a 10 year or longer history of chronic periodontitis had a small but significant increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Chronic periodontitis is a type of gum disease that causes damage to the gums and underlying bone, eventually leading to tooth loss if left untreated. Previously, other studies have speculated that there might be a link between gum disease and dementia. However, the participants in this study had already been diagnosed with dementia so it is hard to conclude a cause and effect relationship. An explanation for the link might also be that those suffering with dementia may have poorer oral hygiene causing an increase in gum disease progression.

Researchers at the University of Manchester tested 238 patients with high blood pressure and discovered that almost one third were not taking their medication on a regular basis. They concluded that to improve compliance, patients should be given regular urine tests to ensure they are taking their medication correctly. The patients in the study were given regular urine tests to determine who was taking their medication. Following the testing, over 80% of participants took their medication correctly or improved compliance. This resulted in an average drop in blood pressure by 20 to 30mmHg between their first visit and their final visit.

A study of 10,000 people found that an anti-inflammatory drug could cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The trial of the drug canakinumab found a 15% reduction in the risk of a repeat heart attack amongst those who took it. Currently, heart attack patients are given cholesterol-lowering statins and blood-thinning drugs such as warfarin to reduce the risk of future episodes. Canakinumab is a drug currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and works by reducing inflammation. Critics of new treatment say that the drug is not cost effective and can produce severe side effects such as serious infections.  

Words: Joelle Booth

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