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Healthy Living Newsletter - Volume 1, No. 5

Issue Date: March 9, 2004
Publisher: Mellanie True Hills, The Health & Productivity Revitalizer

This week, we focus on some health snippets and updates. As always, your situation is unique, so consult your physician.

1. Can you get your cholesterol too low?

2. Anger and hostility increase risk for men, not women

3. Will coughing save you from dying of a heart attack?

1. Can you get your cholesterol too low?

Typically, I avoid discussing specific medications, but the results this week are important to most of us. Some cardiologists, only half-jokingly, say that statin drugs are so effective at lowering our cholesterol levels that we should consider putting them in our water supply. More evidence piled up in favor of that this week.

Doctors tell us that our bad (LDL) cholesterol level should be below 100. A study, just released at meetings of the American College of Cardiology, reported that patients on Pfizer's statin, Lipitor, had median LDL levels of 62, compared to 95 for those on Bristol-Myers Squibb's statin, Pravachol. Those on Lipitor, having lower cholesterol levels, had a 16 per cent lower rate of heart disease and stroke, and a 28 per cent lower death rate, than those on Pravachol.

The lower the bad cholesterol, the better.

The bummer for Bristol-Myers Squibb is that they paid for this study, which found their competitor's Lipitor was more effective. This followed closely a Pfizer-funded study, which also found their Lipitor to be more effective.

There is some good news about Pravachol--patients on Pravachol had significantly lower levels of side effects than those on Lipitor, and were more likely to stay on their statin regimen. Worth noting is that the study used the maximum dosage of Pravachol, which was 40mg at the time, while the Lipitor dosage in the study was 80 mg.

The higher dosages appeared to be more effective. Of course, there are other statins that weren't included in this study, including AstraZeneca's new superstatin, Crestor, so stay tuned.

2. Anger and hostility increase risk for men, not women

Whether or not stress is a risk factor for heart disease is considered controversial, but a study reported this week that men with anger and hostility were up to 30% more likely to experience a heart irregularity, called atrial fibrillation. Interestingly, the same effect was not observed in women.

3. Will coughing save you from dying of a heart attack?

Finally, if you receive an e-mail message claiming that if you're having a heart attack and are alone, you should cough repeatedly and vigorously in order to save your life, please don't believe it, and don't forward it either.

Most variations purport to have originated with a cardiologist.

This message has floated around the Internet since 1999, and appears to be having a resurgence as it's popped up in my mailbox at least five times this past week. The latest information I've seen says that the American Heart Association doesn't recommend that the public do this in the absence of medical personnel. The full story is available at

If you're interested in whether I will be in your neighborhood soon, please see the schedule of my upcoming speeches.

Wishing you all the best of health.


Mellanie True Hills, The Health & Productivity Revitalizer, coaches individuals to create healthy lifestyles and works with organizations to create healthy, productive workplaces.

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