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White blood cell count could help to predict women's cardiovascular risk, a new study suggests.

US researchers collected blood samples, personal information and medical histories from 72,000 women, aged 50 to 79, who were enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative observational study. They followed up participants for six years.

Women in the highest quartile for leukocyte count were at twice the risk of dying from coronary heart disease as those in the lowest quartile. Their risk of myocardial infarction was increased by 40 per cent and their risk of stroke by 46 per cent.

Archives of Internal Medicine

2005; 165:500-508

Vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of heart failure, a new study suggests.

US and Canadian researchers conducted a randomised controlled trial of vitamin E supplements in 7,030 patients, in order to test their effect on heart failure and cancer.

Patients taking supplements were at a 13 per cent increased risk of developing heart failure and a 21 per cent increased risk of hospitalisation from the condition. Supplements had no effect on the risk of cancer.

JAMA;293:1338-1347

Nearly half of strokes among patients treated for hypertension result from inadequate blood pressure control, researchers conclude.

The study included all patients aged 45-73 diagnosed with hypertension between 1991 and 1996 in the Malmö region of Sweden. Researchers followed up patients until 1999 and recorded 137 strokes, 130 of them among patients with uncontrolled hypertension.

The crude incidence of stroke was 289 per 100,000 person-years in patients with controlled hypertension and 705 per 100,000 in uncontrolled cases. An estimated 45 per cent of all strokes were attributable to poor blood pressure control.

Stroke 2005 early online publication

Risk factors for pre-eclampsia include previous history, antiphospholipid antibodies and diabetes, according to a new study.

Researchers at John Radcliffe's Hospital in Oxford conducted a systematic review of 52 controlled studies. Women with a previous history of pre-eclampsia were at an eight-fold increased risk, while antiphospholipid antibodies increased risk 10-fold and

pre-existing diabetes 3.6-fold. Having twins and family history also increased risk.

BMJ 2005 early online publication

Pharmacist-led disease management programmes can successfully moderate cardiovascular risk factors in patients with diabetes, a US study finds.

The randomised controlled trial of 217 patients with type 2 diabetes tested the effectiveness of a programme of intervention involving a pharmacist and diabetes care

co-ordinator. Systolic blood pressures dropped by 9mmHg more in the intervention group than in usual care controls and HbA1c fell by 0.8 per cent more. Aspirin use was 91 per cent in the intervention group and 58 per cent in controls.

American Journal of Medicine

2005;118:276-284

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