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Risk' Exposure: Heart Attacks & Other Health Issues


Reducing health risks'Risk' - This word is often seen in ads and articles about health, but misunderstanding what it really means may result in serious problems


"Eating chocolate can reduce your risk for heart heart disease by one-third!"
"Niacin reduces the risk of non fatal heart attacks by 27%"
What do these studies really mean? Does one encounter "other" risks with trying to reduce risks for specific health problems?  Get the facts!

The information for this article was taken from Boston'com's Health Section. Click here for the full article

If the study says that taking a certain medication increases your risk of having a heart attack, for instance, ask the following questions:

■ What’s the risk of having a heart attack for the people who took a placebo - the “control population’’?

■ What’s the risk of having a heart attack for those treated with the medication being studied?

■ How big is that difference? Is it significant?

■ What kind of people are being studied? Do their characteristics fit you? If all the study participants are heavy smokers, for instance, and you have never smoked, the study’s results likely do not apply to you.

■ What does the study outcome measure? For instance, did it follow people for five years to see if they had a heart attack after taking a certain medication? Or only for one year?

■ Are there any potential benefits to taking the medication that might outweigh the risks presented by the study?    

If you have questions, the author Neena Satija can be reached at nsatija@globe.com


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