Menopause sometimes requires a survival guide

Menopause has gotten a bad rap. Women in their 40s and 50s who have any symptoms – from moodiness to insomnia and headaches – may believe that it’s a normal part of aging and there’s not much they can do about it.

Fluctuating hormones caused by the normal decline of ovarian function can trigger the typical symptoms associated with menopause. One approach is to give the body a drug that mimics ovarian function, such as estrogen or hormone replacement therapy. This was a common treatment, until multiple studies showed increased risk of urinary incontinence, stroke, dementia and breast cancer from using menopausal hormone therapy.

Fortunately, there is another approach to improving the body’s ability to adjust to hormone fluctuations that doesn’t increase the risk of breast cancer and dementia. This approach looks at the other organ systems that are involved in addition to the ovaries. For instance, hot flashes will be greatly exaggerated in a woman who has blood-sugar problems – even if those don’t show up on a standard blood test.

BIOIDENTICAL HORMONES

Some women use bioidentical hormones instead. While they appear to have fewer immediate side effects, there is no evidence that they have fewer long-term risks.

At a recent functional medicine conference I attended, there were several discussions on how to address hormone “saturation” – the experience many women have after being on bioidentical hormones for several years and then having a return of their previous symptoms. We’re learning that underlying imbalances in gut function, adrenal hormones and blood sugar can have a major effect on a woman’s experience of her perimenopausal years.

IT’S NOT JUST THE OVARIES

Technically, menopause occurs when a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 consecutive months. The symptoms that can occur for years before that are due to the ovaries becoming less predictable in their hormone production. This means that estrogen levels can spike and fall like a roller coaster.

Unfortunately, once a woman knows that her hormones are fluctuating, she is likely to explain away all her symptoms as perimenopausal. But ovaries are not the only glands affected by hormone changes. The pancreas, thyroid and adrenal glands play key roles in determining how easy or difficult the perimenopausal years will be.

The most common, end-stage effect of pancreas dysfunction is diabetes. But long before the body reaches a disease state, there are more subtle effects. For instance, a woman with low blood sugar or insulin resistance will experience more severe hot flashes than a woman with normal blood-sugar regulation.

Following are common symptoms associated with perimenopause and factors that can determine the severity of those symptoms.

• Heavy or frequent periods. These can be worsened by blood-sugar and thyroid imbalances that don’t show up on routine blood work. Checking free and total levels of T3 and T4 as well as thyroid antibodies can be helpful.

• Hot flashes or low libido. Underlying adrenal stress can result in cortisol levels that are too high or too low, or reduced DHEA (precursor to several hormones). Cortisol levels are best tested with multiple saliva samples over a 24-hour period.

• Insomnia. With or without hot flashes, insomnia is often due to chronic stress, which causes the adrenals to produce excess cortisol.

• Mood changes and brain fog. Moods can be affected by the stress hormone cortisol as well as imbalanced neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin are made primarily in the gut and can be evaluated with a urine test. Low levels of serotonin can also increase overall pain levels.

• Hair loss and weight gain. There may be underlying thyroid stress that doesn’t show up on routine blood work but requires a more detailed look at free and total levels of T3 and T4 and thyroid antibodies.

Once these underlying issues are identified, they can be addressed through food choices, lifestyle factors and specific supplements.

Marina Rose, D.C., is a functional medicine practitioner, certified clinical nutritionist and chiropractor with an office at 4546 El Camino Real in Los Altos. For more information,  visit DrMarinaRose.com.

From http://www.losaltosonline.com/special-sections2/sections/your-health/53300-

Endocrine Society experts call for expanded screening for primary aldosteronism

Washington, DC–The Endocrine Society today issued a Clinical Practice Guideline calling on physicians to ramp up screening for primary aldosteronism, a common cause of high blood pressure.

People with primary aldosteronism face a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and dying from it than other people with high blood pressure. As many as one in ten people with high blood pressure may have primary aldosteronism. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can put these individuals at risk for stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure.

The guideline, entitled “The Management of Primary Aldosteronism: Case Detection, Diagnosis, and Treatment: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline,” was published online and will appear in the May 2016 print issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), a publication of the Endocrine Society. The guideline updates recommendations from the Society’s 2008 guideline on primary aldosteronism.

“In the past eight years, we have come to recognize that primary aldosteronism, despite being quite common, frequently goes undiagnosed and untreated,” said John W. Funder, MD, PhD, of the Hudson Institute of Medical Research in Clayton, Australia, and chair of the task force that authored the guideline. “This is a major public health issue. Many people with primary aldosteronism are never screened due to the associated costs. Better screening processes are needed to ensure no person suffering from primary aldosteronism and the resulting risks of uncontrolled high blood pressure goes untreated.”

Primary aldosteronism occurs when the adrenal glands — the small glands located on the top of each kidney – produce too much of the hormone aldosterone. This causes aldosterone, which helps balance levels of sodium and potassium, to build up in the body. The resulting excess sodium can lead to a rise in blood pressure.

The Endocrine Society recommends primary aldosterone screening for people who meet one of the following criteria:

  • Those who have sustained blood pressure above 150/100 in three separate measurements taken on different days;
  • People who have hypertension resistant to three conventional antihypertensive drugs;
  • People whose hypertension is controlled with four or more medications;
  • People with hypertension and low levels of potassium in the blood;
  • Those who have hypertension and a mass on the adrenal gland called an adrenal incidentaloma;
  • People with both hypertension and sleep apnea;
  • People with hypertension and a family history of early-onset hypertension or stroke before age 40; and
  • All hypertensive first-degree relatives of patients with primary aldosteronism.

Other recommendations from the guideline include:

  • The plasma aldosterone-to-renin ratio (ARR) test should be used to screen for primary aldosteronism.
  • All patients diagnosed with primary aldosteronism should undergo a CT scan of the adrenal glands to screen for a rare cancer called adrenocortical carcinoma.
  • When patients choose to treat the condition by having one adrenal gland surgically removed, an experienced radiologist should take blood samples from each adrenal vein and have them analyzed. This procedure, called adrenal vein sampling, is the gold standard for determining whether one or both adrenal glands is producing excess aldosterone.
  • For people with primary aldosteronism caused by overactivity in one adrenal gland, the recommended course of treatment is minimally invasive surgery to remove that adrenal gland.
  • For patients who are unable or unwilling to have surgery, medical treatment including a mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) agonist is the preferred treatment option.

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The Hormone Health Network offers resources on primary aldosteronism athttp://www.hormone.org/questions-and-answers/2012/primary-aldosteronism.

Other members of the Endocrine Society task force that developed this guideline include: Robert M. Carey, of the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, VA; Franco Mantero of the University of Padova in Padua, Italy; M. Hassan Murad of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN; Martin Reincke of the Klinikum of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich in München, Bavaria, Germany; Hirotaka Shibata of Oita University in Oita, Japan; Michael Stowasser of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia; and William F. Young, Jr. of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

The Society established the Clinical Practice Guideline Program to provide endocrinologists and other clinicians with evidence-based recommendations in the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine-related conditions. Each guideline is created by a task force of topic-related experts in the field. Task forces rely on evidence-based reviews of the literature in the development of guideline recommendations. The Endocrine Society does not solicit or accept corporate support for its guidelines. All Clinical Practice Guidelines are supported entirely by Society funds.

The Clinical Practice Guideline was co-sponsored by the American Heart Association, the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the European Society of Endocrinology, the European Society of Hypertension, the International Association of Endocrine Surgeons, the International Society of Hypertension, the Japan Endocrine Society and The Japanese Society of Hypertension.

The guideline was published online at http://press.endocrine.org/doi/10.1210/jc.2015-4061, ahead of print.

Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society, which is celebrating its centennial in 2016, has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at http://www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

From http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/tes-ese042616.php

New ibuprofen patch delivers drug without risks posed by oral dose

ibuprofen
Some people, such as me!, can’t take Ibuprofen or NSAIDs.  This might be a good solution…
Ibuprofen is used by many people to relieve pain, lessen swelling and to reduce fever. Though there are many worrying side effects linked to overuse of the drug, a new ibuprofen patch has been developed that can deliver the drug at a consistent dose rate without the side effects linked to the oral form.

The patch was developed by researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK, led by research chemist Prof. David Haddleton.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently strengthened the warning labels that accompany nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.

New labels warn that such drugs increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, and these events happen without warning, potentially causing death. Furthermore, such risks are higher for people who take NSAIDs for a long time.

Ibuprofen can also cause ulcers, bleeding or holes in the stomach or intestine.

With these risks in mind, finding an alternative way to relieve pain without the risks is a worthwhile endeavor. Though there are commercial patches on the market designed to soothe pain, this is the first patch that delivers ibuprofen through the skin.

“Many commercial patches surprisingly don’t contain any pain relief agents at all,” says Prof. Haddleton, “they simply soothe the body by a warming effect.”

Patch drug load 5-10 times that of current patches

Working with a Warwick spinout company called Medherant, the researchers were able to put significant amounts of ibuprofen into a polymer matrix that adheres the patch to the patient’s skin, enabling the drug to be delivered at a steady rate over a 12-hour period.

The researchers say their patch paves the way for other novel long-acting pain relief products that can be used to treat common conditions – such as back pain, neuralgia and arthritis – without taking potentially damaging oral doses of the drug.

Prof. Haddleton explains that, for the first time, they can “produce patches that contain effective doses of active ingredients such as ibuprofen for which no patches currently exist.”

He adds that they are able to “improve the drug loading and stickiness of patches containing other active ingredients to improve patient comfort and outcome.”

The team notes that the drug load made possible by their new technology is 5-10 times that of current medical patches and gels. Furthermore, because the patch adheres well to skin, it stays put even when the drug load reaches levels as high as 30% of the weight or volume of the patch.

Other potential uses for the patch

There are currently a number of ibuprofen gels available, but the researchers say it is difficult to control dosage with these gels, and they are not convenient to apply.

“There are only a limited number of existing polymers that have the right characteristics to be used for this type of transdermal patches – that will stick to the skin and not leave residues when being easily removed,” says Prof. Haddleton, who adds:

“Our success in developing this breakthrough patch design isn’t limited to ibuprofen; we have also had great results testing the patch with methyl salicylate (used in liniments, gels and some leading commercial patches).

We believe that many other over-the-counter and prescription drugs can exploit our technology, and we are seeking opportunities to test a much wider range of drugs and treatments within our patch.”

Medherant CEO Nigel Davis says they anticipate their new patch will be on the market in around 2 years. He adds that they “can see considerable opportunities in working with pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative products using our next-generation transdermal drug-delivery platform.”

Despite the risks associated with long-term use of NSAIDs, Medical News Today recently reported on a study that suggested use of the drugs could reduce risk of colorectal cancer.

Consumer Updates > FDA Strengthens Warning of Heart Attack and Stroke Risk for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Next time you reach into the medicine cabinet seeking relief for a headache, backache or arthritis, be aware of important safety information for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

FDA is strengthening an existing warning in prescription drug labels and over-the-counter (OTC) Drug Facts labels to indicate that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can increase the chance of a heart attack or stroke, either of which can lead to death. Those serious side effects can occur as early as the first few weeks of using an NSAID, and the risk might rise the longer people take NSAIDs. (Although aspirin is also an NSAID, this revised warning doesn’t apply to aspirin.)

The OTC drugs in this group are used for the temporary relief of pain and fever. The prescription drugs in this group are used to treat several kinds of arthritis and other painful conditions. Because many prescription and OTC medicines contain NSAIDs, consumers should avoid taking multiple remedies with the same active ingredient.

via Consumer Updates > FDA Strengthens Warning of Heart Attack and Stroke Risk for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.

NINDS Know Stroke Campaign – Know Stroke Home

Each year in the United States, there are more than 795,000 strokes. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the country and causes more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65 and the risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.

The National Institutes of Health through the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) developed the Know Stroke. Know the Signs. Act in Time. campaign to help educate the public about the symptoms of stroke and the importance of getting to the hospital quickly.

Read the entire article at NINDS Know Stroke Campaign – Know Stroke Home.

Heart Of The Matter: Treating The Disease Instead Of The Person : Shots – Health News : NPR

Many times patients and doctors see the same hospital visit through different eyes.

This NPR article discusses the importance of seeing things from both sides…

 

Heart Of The Matter: Treating The Disease Instead Of The Person : Shots – Health News : NPR.

Menopausal Hormone Therapy

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Menopausal Hormone Therapy and Health Outcomes During the Intervention and Extended Poststopping Phases of the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Trials

JAMA, 10/02/2013  Evidence Based Medicine  Clinical Article

Manson JE et al. – Menopausal hormone therapy continues in clinical use but questions remain regarding its risks and benefits for chronic disease prevention. To report a comprehensive, integrated overview of findings from the 2 Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) hormone therapy trials with extended postintervention follow–up. Menopausal hormone therapy has a complex pattern of risks and benefits. Findings from the intervention and extended postintervention follow–up of the 2 WHI hormone therapy trials do not support use of this therapy for chronic disease prevention, although it is appropriate for symptom management in some women.

Methods

  • A total of 27 347 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years were enrolled at 40 US centers.
  • Women with an intact uterus received conjugated equine estrogens (CEE; 0.625 mg/d) plus medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA; 2.5 mg/d) (n = 8506) or placebo (n = 8102).
  • Women with prior hysterectomy received CEE alone (0.625 mg/d) (n = 5310) or placebo (n = 5429).
  • The intervention lasted a median of 5.6 years in CEE plus MPA trial and 7.2 years in CEE alone trial with 13 years of cumulative follow–up until September 30, 2010.
  • Primary efficacy and safety outcomes were coronary heart disease (CHD) and invasive breast cancer, respectively.
  • A global index also included stroke, pulmonary embolism, colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, hip fracture, and death.

Results

  • During the CEE plus MPA intervention phase, the numbers of CHD cases were 196 for CEE plus MPA vs 159 for placebo (hazard ratio [HR], 1.18; 95% CI, 0.95–1.45) and 206 vs 155, respectively, for invasive breast cancer (HR, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.01–1.53).
  • Other risks included increased stroke, pulmonary embolism, dementia (in women aged >=65 years), gallbladder disease, and urinary incontinence; benefits included decreased hip fractures, diabetes, and vasomotor symptoms.
  • Most risks and benefits dissipated postintervention, although some elevation in breast cancer risk persisted during cumulative follow–up (434 cases for CEE plus MPA vs 323 for placebo; HR, 1.28 [95% CI, 1.11–1.48]).
  • The risks and benefits were more balanced during the CEE alone intervention with 204 CHD cases for CEE alone vs 222 cases for placebo (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.78–1.14) and 104 vs 135, respectively, for invasive breast cancer (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.61–1.02); cumulatively, there were 168 vs 216, respectively, cases of breast cancer diagnosed (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.65–0.97).
  • Results for other outcomes were similar to CEE plus MPA.
  • Neither regimen affected all–cause mortality.
  • For CEE alone, younger women (aged 50–59 years) had more favorable results for all–cause mortality, myocardial infarction, and the global index (nominal P < .05 for trend by age).
  • Absolute risks of adverse events (measured by the global index) per 10 000 women annually taking CEE plus MPA ranged from 12 excess cases for ages of 50–59 years to 38 for ages of 70–79 years; for women taking CEE alone, from 19 fewer cases for ages of 50–59 years to 51 excess cases for ages of 70–79 years.
  • Quality–of–life outcomes had mixed results in both trials.

From http://www.mdlinx.com/internal-medicine/newsl-article.cfm/4870253/ZZ4747461521296427210947/?news_id=466&newsdt=100213&utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=DailyNL&utm_content=General-Article&utm_campaign=Article-Section