Health Highlights: April 8, 201104/08/11
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
No New Heart Warnings for ADHD Drugs: FDA
No changes in safety instructions or in the use of medicines to
treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are being
recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after
receiving preliminary findings from an analysis of a huge amount of
National Public Radio reported.
Currently, labeling for the drugs warns that misuse "may cause
sudden death and serious cardiovascular adverse events."
The analysis, funded by the FDA and the federal Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality, included data from more than
500,000 people taking ADHD medicines and one million people who
weren't taking the stimulant drugs,
There have been concerns about the safety of ADHD medicines
since the release of a 2009 federal study that suggested a link
between the drugs and sudden cardiac death in otherwise healthy
young people. The study was published in the
American Journal of Psychiatry.
At the time, the FDA pointed out a number of limitations with
the study and said parents should not stop their children's use of
the drugs. But the agency also promised further investigation into
The preliminary findings were originally due in late 2009 but
the analysis took far longer than expected.
"At this time, FDA is not recommending any changes to the drug labels and/or the use of these medications," the agency said in a statement. "FDA will update the public after the results of the final analyses are evaluated."
Knoxville, Tenn. Worst for Spring Allergies: Survey
Knoxville, Tenn. is the worst city for spring allergies in the
United States, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of
America 2011 ranking of the worst 100 cities in the nation.
The system grades cities based on three factors: tree pollen
prevalence; the number of allergy medications used by residents;
and the number of allergy specialists in the area,
ABC News reported.
The other cities among the 10 worst for spring allergies are:
Louisville; Charlotte, N.C.; Jackson, Miss.; Chattanooga, Tenn.;
Birmingham, Ala.; Dayton, Ohio, Richmond, Va.; McAllen, Texas; and
"Allergic symptoms in the spring are caused by a significant increase in the tree and grass pollen. Other environmental conditions, such as pollution, can then exacerbate the person's symptoms," Dr. William Burks, professor and chief of pediatric allergy and immunology at Duke University Medical Center, told ABC News.
"The climate in these cities is good for a long and heavy pollen season," he added.
New U.S. Plan Seeks to Improve Health of Minorities
Increasing the number of poor children who receive dental care
and hiring trusted local people to act as community health workers
are among the steps included in a U.S. government plan to improve
the health care and well-being of minorities.
Compared to whites, racial and ethnic minorities lag in many
areas of health. For example, they have higher infant death rates,
lower overall life expectancy and are more likely to suffer from a
number of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma and
kidney disease, according to the
Lack of access to health care is part of the problem, but many
other factors play a role in health disparities.
"It's also a product of where people live, labor, learn, play and pray," Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, told the AP. "We really need a full commitment from the country to achieve these goals," of giving everyone an equal opportunity to live a healthy life, he said.
The cost of the new federal government plan released Friday may
be an issue, but "we'll never be a healthy nation unless we address
these inequities," Dr. Paul Jarris, executive director of the
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, told the
The new plan includes:
- A 10 percent increase in the number of poor children who
receive preventive dental care.
- An online national registry of interpreters that hospitals or
doctors can use when dealing with patients who don't speak
- Reimbursement incentives to improve the quality of care of
- New research to determine which treatments are most effective
for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and asthma in minority
- Recruiting trusted local people to act as community health
workers who can help people with diabetes understand and adhere to
their treatment plans.
Uninsured Hospital Stays Increasing: Report
Hospital stays for uninsured people in the United States
increased 21 percent between 2003 and 2008, while the overall
number of hospital stays rose just 4 percent, says a federal
There were 2.1 million uninsured hospital admissions in 2008,
compared to 1.8 million in both 2003 and 1998. The average cost of
a hospital stay by an uninsured patient in 2008 was $7,300,
according to the latest
News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and
The percentage of uninsured stays in 2008 was higher at public
hospitals (8.3 percent) than at for-profit hospitals (5.5 percent)
or non-profit hospitals (4.7 percent). Hospitals in the South had
more than twice as many uninsured stays (7.6 percent) than
hospitals in the Midwest (4.9 percent) and West (3.6 percent).
The number of uninsured hospital stays for skin infections
increased 55 percent between 2003 and 2008, and increased 43
percent for gall bladder disease, 40 percent for diabetes
complications, 35 percent for alcohol-related disorders, and 20
percent for heart attacks.
Most Americans Skeptical About Readiness for Nuke Emergency
Only about one-fourth of Americans are highly confident the
federal government is prepared to respond to a nuclear emergency,
while nearly three-fourths are somewhat or not confident, a new
However, many of the participants in the
Associated Press-GfK poll doubt that an emergency like the
one at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan could happen
in the United States.
About 70 percent of respondents believe such an emergency is
only somewhat or not likely, while 30 percent believe it is
extremely or very likely. Among those who think such a disaster is
highly likely, nearly 80 percent doubt the federal government would
be prepared to deal with such an event.
The poll also found that 60 percent of respondents oppose
building more nuclear power plants in the United States, an
increase from 48 percent in an
AP-Stanford University survey conducted in November 2009.
Study Finds Increase in Self-Centered Lyrics in Pop Songs
The increase in "me me me" lyrics in modern pop songs reflects a
rise in self-centered behavior in the United States, according to a
Researchers analyzed lyrics of the 10 most popular songs for the
years 1980 to 2007 and found that older songs were more likely to
use more first-person plural pronouns (we, our, us) while newer
songs had more first-person singular pronouns (me, my, mine),
The study also found an increase in angry, antisocial words in
pop songs, said C. Nathan DeWall, of the University of Kentucky,
They noted that "music serves as a cultural product that
documents change in U.S. culture across time,"
The study was published in the March issue of the journal
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.
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