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Monday, November 19, 2012

No need to fast before blood cholesterol tests

By Lilian Anekwe
The common practice of avoiding food before having a test to measure fats, like cholesterol, in your blood may be largely unnecessary, a study suggests.

What do we know already?

Fats in the blood are called lipids. All the fats you eat are changed into cholesterol or another group of lipids called triglycerides.
If you have too much of some kinds of cholesterol in your blood, this puts you at higher risk of heart diseases. The only way to diagnose high cholesterol is to have a blood test.
Doctors usually recommend that you don’t eat anything for several hours before the test, so that all your food has had time to be digested and won't affect the results. This is because after a meal the level of fats in your blood is higher than normal.
This type of test is called a fasting lipid (or lipoprotein) profile. You can sometimes arrange to have it done first thing in the morning, before you have breakfast. But this can often be inconvenient and seem like a hassle, both for the people having the test and their doctors. It can also mean that tests and appointments have to be rearranged if, for example, you forget and eat something in the hours before a test.
Researchers have started to look at whether this recommendation is strictly necessary, and if it’s possible to have a fasting lipid profile without avoiding food in the hours leading up to the test.
In this study, researchers looked at the blood samples given by people who had lipid profile tests during a six-month period in 2011 in Canada. They divided the tests according to how long the person who gave the blood sample had fasted for, ranging from fasting for one hour before the test, to avoiding food for 16 hours. They then looked to see whether the length of time people had fasted for made any difference to their lipid levels and the results of their tests.

What does the new study say?

A total of 209,180 people were included in the study. Regardless of how long people had fasted before having the test, there was little difference in the average levels of total cholesterol and a type of cholesterol called high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
The average level of a type of cholesterol called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol varied a little more. There was around a 10 percent difference in LDL cholesterol levels between people who fasted for different lengths of time. There was also a 20 percent difference in average triglyceride levels between people who fasted for different lengths of time.
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Belviq Is First New Prescription Weight Loss Drug in 13 Years

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 27, 2012 -- For the first time in more than a decade, the FDA has approved a new drug to help people lose weight.

Today, Arena Pharmaceuticals' Belviq (lorcaserin hydrochloride) became the firstprescription weight loss drug approved by federal regulators in 13 years.
The FDA approved Belviq as an addition to a reduced-calorie diet and exercise, for use in chronic weight control.
The approval is specifically for use in adults with a BMI above 30 (considered obese), and for adults with a BMI of 27 (considered overweight) or above if they also have at least one weight-related medical condition, such as high blood pressure,type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol.
Belviq should not be used during pregnancy.
Today's move comes almost two years after the FDA refused to approve the drug, citing concerns about its safety and effectiveness.
But last May, an FDA advisory committee overwhelmingly endorsed making the drug available to people who are obese and those with health issues related to being overweight.
The drug's manufacturer will be required to conduct six post-marketing studies, including a long-term trial to look for heart attack and stroke risks, the FDA announced today.

Weight Loss Drug Targets Hunger Center

Belviq works by targeting a key area of the brain that regulates appetite, known as the serotonin 2C receptor.
This is the same appetite-controlling hormone targeted by fenfluramine, the "fen" component of the notorious 1990s diet drug combo fen-phen. Fen-phen was linked to potentially life-threatening heart valve problems in as many as one in three users.
But Belviq is much more selective than fenfluramine and much safer, its manufacturer says, because it specifically targets serotonin receptors associated with hunger.
In a study published two years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine, about half of obese people who took the drug for a year lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared to 20% of dieters who took a placebo pill, while about 1 in 5 Belviq users lost 10% or more of their body weight, compared to 1 in 14 placebo users.
People who continued on the drug for two years were able to maintain their weight loss better than those who switched to placebo after one year.
Study participants were monitored closely for heart valve irregularities, and no difference was seen in the two groups.