New Heart Pump Outperforms Old Model
A study comparing two versions of Thoratec Corp.'s heart pump showed that patients live longer if they receive the newer model, Reuters reports. After two years, 58 percent of the end-stage heart failure patients implanted with the new HeartMate II device were still alive, compared with 24 percent of those who received the older HeartMate XVE. Participants who received the newer iteration of the device also were less likely to have a stroke or require an additional operation to repair or replace the pump, according to the study. Still, the cost—$70,000 or more before any doctor's or hospital fees—could be an obstacle for patients, according to Reuters.
Routine Mammograms Before Age 50 : Not Much Point?
The government's independent panel of preventive healthcare experts has recommended that most women in their 40s not automatically be screened for breast cancer using mammography. But will—and should—women listen? Yesterday's announcement by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is historically conservative in its recommendations, puts it at odds with plenty of other organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, U.S. News's Katherine Hobson reports.
For many women, the USPSTF's updated recommendations are likely to be confusing. The new guidelines also say that women between the ages of 50 and 74 should receive mammograms every two years rather than annually. And the USPSTF says that there's not enough evidence to weigh the benefits and harms of mammograms in women 75 and older or to evaluate newer digital mammography or magnetic resonance imaging as screening techniques for breast cancer. Also, the task force recommends against instructing women how to do self-exams. Read more.
Safety of Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks Is in Federal Spotlight
Alcoholic drinks laced with caffeine are increasingly popular on college campuses and among underage teen drinkers, probably because the caffeine in brands like Four Loko, Joose, and Liquid Charge makes it possible to stay awake and keep on partying without having to stop to mix a Red Bull and vodka, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute writes.
But law enforcement types such as state attorneys general have been pushing to get jazzed-up malt liquors and vodkas banned, arguing that these drinks are dangerous and are often marketed to the under-21 crowd.
It looks like the Food and Drug Administration thinks caffeinated alcohol drinks are a bad idea, too. FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein announced Friday that the agency is investigating the safety and legality of mixing caffeine and alcohol in a single product. He told 30 manufacturers of juiced hooch that they have 30 days to explain why they think these products are safe. The scarcely veiled threat is that the FDA can ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks under existing law that bars dangerous food additives. Read more.
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