Health Buzz: Experts Release Draft of Mental-Health Guide

Reducing radiation exposure from medical imaging tests; 14 heart health numbers everyone should know.


Experts Release Draft of Mental-Health Diagnoses Guide

The official guide mental-health experts use to make diagnoses is under construction—and a draft version is now up for public review, HealthDay reports. The fifth iteration of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) is to be published in 2013, nearly 20 years after DSM-IV's debut. Among the proposed changes is the creation of a new category of behavioral addiction disorders, though at the moment the category includes only gambling. Internet addiction and sex addiction would be included in the appendix to encourage further research, one member of the DSM task force tells HealthDay. A major change expected in the updated volume would allow clinicians to measure the severity of mental illness. Without that ability, there is no way to quantitatively measure whether a patient is improving with treatment, Darrel Regier, vice chair of the DSM Task Force, said during a teleconference. "We're trying to address this with more quantitative measures on a continuum with a cutoff to decide mild, severe, very severe," he said, according to HealthDay.

[Read Parental Alienation: A Mental Diagnosis? and Who's Behind the Bible of Mental Illness.]

FDA Aims to Reduce Radiation Exposure From Medical Scans

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to reduce American's exposure to radiation. The agency's initiative targets CT scanning, nuclear imaging, and fluoroscopy in particular, as these imaging tests are the largest contributors to radiation exposure and may increase cancer risk, HealthDay reports. While the scans are important diagnostic tools, they expose patients to radiation at much higher doses; the radiation dose from one CT scan of the abdomen is about that of 400 chest X-rays, the FDA said. Among the initiative's goals is to create medical history cards for patients that record their radiation exposure over time, according to HealthDay.

In July, U.S. News's Ben Harder wrote about other reasons you should think hard before getting scanned. Diagnostic testing can be a lucrative source of revenue for physicians, Harder wrote, which is one motivation for purchasing the often-expensive hardware. Once a doctor buys a scanner, for example, she has every incentive to use it and use it again in order to pay off its cost and, if she's lucky, put some additional money in her pocket. The purchase of a new scanner tends to lead to more scans being prescribed and performed.

Is that a bad thing for patients? Not always, but it certainly can be. Some cancers may be caused by the radiation exposure that patients get from medical imaging. Furthermore, the overuse of medical imaging and other high-tech tools and treatments doesn't necessarily lead to better care, and it often does significantly increase the cost of care. Read more.

[Read Cost of Medicine: Are High-Tech Medical Devices and Treatments Always Worth It? and Facing a CT Scan? Think About Radiation.]

Your Heart Health: 14 Numbers Everyone Should Know

A long life free of heart disease does not come just from controlling the standard measures like blood pressure and cholesterol. Sure, keeping tabs on these indicators is essential to gauging your heart's health, but a few other numbers—some surprising—can be meaningful as well, U.S. News's Sarah Baldauf writes.

It's awareness worth having. The American Heart Association noted in its annual review for 2010 that while the death rate due to cardiovascular disease in the United States fell between 1996 and 2006 (the most recent data available), the burden of the disease is still high. More than 1 in 3 deaths was related to heart disease in 2006.

Baldauf consulted with cardiology experts to round up the target numbers you should strive for to keep your ticker in good working condition over the long haul. Read more.

[Slide Shows: 6 Reasons Most Americans Are at Risk for Heart Disease and 7 Steps Toward a Healthy Heart (and Long Life). ] [Read Are You at Low Risk for Heart Disease? Probably Not. ]