HEART LIFTING Drivers being treated for life-threatening irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, have less than half as many accidents as the general population, despite more than 1 in 5 reporting episodes of dizziness or palpitations while driving. The study of 627 people, all of whom were on medication or had a Dick Cheney-like defibrillator, means that some patients could get back on the road to a normal life faster.
ACE THAT COUGH Irritating, dry coughs are a common side effect of ACE inhibitors, and the main reason people stop taking them for high blood pressure and heart conditions. A simple remedy may be iron supplements. A small study found that 256 mg of iron each day improved cough symptoms in 80% of cases. Experts advise that patients talk to their doctor before starting an iron regimen.
CLOSE QUARTERS Dorm-dwelling college frosh are almost three times as likely as nonstudents to contract meningococcal disease, which is transmitted by close contact. Although rare, the infection can kill up to 15% of sufferers. Researchers suggest that vaccination could prevent 68% of cases.
BAYER BUST The popular cholesterol-lowering drug Baycol (Bayer) has been pulled off the market after being linked to 31 U.S. deaths. Reports of muscle destruction, a rare side effect of all "statin" class drugs, were about 10 times as common for Baycol. Anyone taking the drug, especially those with muscle pain, should seek a doctor's advice.
--By Amanda Bower
Sources: Good News--New England Journal of Medicine (08/09/01), Hypertension (08/01). Bad News--JAMA (08/08/01), FDA/Bayer