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Friday Jan. 11, 2002


Study shows aspirin dose for heart patients should be cut in half

Associated Press

Major new research shows that people at high risk of heart attack or stroke should be given one or two baby aspirins a day, instead of the regular strength adult aspirin.

The study also concluded that the aspirin can help a wider range of people with potential heart trouble - those suffering from risky conditions such as diabetes, chest pain, irregular heart beat and diseased leg arteries - but have not had a heart attack or stroke.

Aspirin has long been the cornerstone of blood thinning treatment for people who have had a heart attack or stroke but is not normally used for those who suffer potential precursor ailments.

The research found that aspirin reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke, or death from those events, by 25 percent even in patients who had not had a heart attack or stroke.

The findings come from an analysis that combines evidence accumulated over the years on the effectiveness of aspirin and its alternatives in staving off heart trouble. Coordinated by scientists at Oxford University in England, it encompassed 287 studies involving 200,000 people.

The most crucial advance offered by the study is in defining the appropriate dose of aspirin for long-term therapy, said Dr. Eric Topol, cardiology chief at the Cleveland Clinic who was not involved in the analysis.

"That's a big thing. Before this analysis, we weren't sure what the dose was at all," Topol said. "325 milligrams was readily available, so it was used out of convenience, but now I think we've zeroed in on the range of 80 to 160."

Most doctors and heart specialists prescribe 325 milligrams of aspirin - the same as a regular strength adult aspirin tablet - per day when applying it as a blood thinner.

The latest analysis shows that between 75 milligrams and 150 milligrams works just as well, with less chance of internal bleeding. In the United States, a baby aspirin tablet, also available as low-dose adult aspirin, contains 81 milligrams.


Mental illness not cause for revoking concealed handgun permit in Alaska

Associated Press

Judge Natalie Finn took away Timothy Wagner's gun permit after he claimed someone had implanted a computer chip in his head and injected him with deadly chemicals.

A state appeals court, though, ruled that Finn erred, saying Alaska's concealed-carry law does not allow general concerns about mental illness to play a role in deciding whether someone should have a gun.

Gun control advocates say the episode illustrates a dangerous accommodation to the gun lobby by Alaska's Legislature. Gun owners, however, argue that Alaska's law safeguards their Second Amendment rights and that the public is adequately protected.

The Department of Public Safety has issued more than 18,000 such permits since 1995, when Alaskans were allowed to carry concealed handguns under restrictions that include an age limit and a gun-safety course.

In 1998, the law was amended so that applicants did not have to prove they actually needed to carry a concealed weapon. Also, asking applicants if they were mentally ill or had been treated for mental illness in the preceding five years was taken off a list of questions gun applicants were asked - a change cited by the appeals court last year in Wagner's case.

The Alaska law requires applicants to disclose only whether they have ever been committed to a mental hospital or found mentally incompetent by a court. "Yes" answers are grounds for denying a permit.

"We wanted to remove the potential for arbitrary and capricious decision making on the part of the issuing agency," said Brian Judy, Alaska liaison for the National Rifle Association.

But Nancy Hwa, spokeswoman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, complained: "They are taking away the discretion of local law enforcement to make these decisions in the best interest of public safety."

Other gun-friendly states, including Texas, Montana and North Carolina, have much stricter standards when it comes to mental instability and concealed-carry permits, said Luis Tolley, the Brady Campaign's state legislative director.


ASU professor indicted for drug manufacturing and sale

Associated Press

An ASU biology professor has been indicted in connection with the manufacture and sale of the drug Ecstasy.

Ralph Backhaus was being held on an $88,000 bond after his initial court appearance yesterday.

Authorities said he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Backhaus, 51, has been on paid administrative leave from the university since his arrest last October.

A Maricopa County grand jury has charged him with 11 felony counts relating to the manufacture, sale and possession of dangerous drugs along with criminal racketeering and money laundering charges.

State Department of Public Safety investigators said Backhaus and his teaching assistant ordered chemicals through the university to manufacture the drug in a laboratory on the Tempe campus.

Backhaus allegedly diverted funds from an Arizona State University foundation account to purchase supplies and chemicals to make Ecstasy, then laundered the funds through the same account, said DPS director Dennis Garrett.

The university said auditors are reviewing Backhaus' campus laboratory accounts and will make suggestions on how to prevent similar situations in the future.

Authorities said the drugs were sent to California and sold in Arizona.

Clayton Prepsky, a 28-year-old former student who was Backhaus' teaching assistant, was indicted last November on charges of manufacturing dangerous drugs and possession of equipment and chemicals for manufacturing dangerous drugs.

Prepsky has told authorities that he and Backhaus are innocent and the only reason he had large amounts of chemicals was for his research on Alzheimer's disease.



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