Latest News

In brief |

Colombian president Uribe has swine flu

President Alvaro Uribe has the swine flu, and officials are contacting other South American governments whose leaders attended a summit last week with the Colombian leader, authorities said Sunday.

The 57-year-old Uribe began feeling symptoms Friday, the same day as a meeting of South American presidents in Bariloche, Argentina, and he was confirmed to have swine flu after returning home, Social Protection Minister Diego Palacio said.

“This isn't something that has us scared,” Palacio said at a news conference. Uribe, a key U.S. ally in Latin America, is not considered a high-risk patient and will continue working from his computer, officials said.

Experimental drug shown to cut stroke risk

An experimental drug reduces the stroke risk in patients with irregular heartbeats by nearly four times, compared with the popular drug warfarin — but possibly at a cost, according to new research released Sunday.

Patients taking the new drug dabigatran etexilate, made by German pharmaceutical Boehringer Ingelheim, were slightly more likely to have heart attacks or stomach pain, according to the research presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona.

Patients with irregular heartbeats are up to 17 times more likely to have a stroke than healthy people.

About one-sixth of all strokes occur in patients with irregular heartbeats who have other risk factors such as smoking or obesity. In the United States, there are about 2 million people with such a condition.

Until now, most such patients have been given warfarin, which has side effects including bleeding risks and requires lifestyle changes such as dietary restrictions.

Research: Drug reduces risks for heart patients

A new drug to prevent blood clots in heart patients reduced their chances of dying by more than 20 percent compared with the standard treatment, research says.

Researchers followed 18,624 patients worldwide from 2006 to 2008. About half the patients were taking clopidogrel, also known as Plavix, while the other half were taking an experimental drug called ticagrelor, or Brilinta, made by AstraZeneca.

Those on Brilinta had a 4.5 percent chance of dying, versus a 5.9 percent death risk for patients on Plavix, the world's second-best selling medication made by Sanofi-Aventis and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Doctors found Brilinta was safer for patients since they were less likely to have bleeding problems, one of Plavix's known side effects. Ticagrelor had its own adverse effects, including breathing and heart rhythm abnormalities.

The study results were announced Sunday at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Barcelona.