Health Highlights: Aug. 30, 2007
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:
Use of Angioplasty to Clear Blocked Arteries Soars
Use of angioplasty to open blocked arteries nearly doubled between 1993 and 2005, to 800,000 procedures each year from 418,000, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality said Thursday.
By contrast, more invasive heart bypass surgeries declined from 344,000 a year to 278,000 over the span, the agency said. Angioplasty is now used nearly three times more often than bypass surgery.
Angioplasty involves inflation of a balloon at the end of a catheter to open a blocked vessel and restore proper blood flow to the heart.
The AHRQ said its analysis also found that while the average hospital stay for angioplasty fell to 2.7 days in 2005 from 4.6 days, hospital charges for angioplasty rose to $48,000 (adjusted for inflation) from $31,300.
With 1.1 million hospitalizations in 2005, coronary artery disease was the third most common reason for a hospital stay, behind childbirth and pneumonia. It was the second leading reason for men, and the seventh for women, the agency said.
Workers Sickened at Poultry Vaccine Plant
As many as 21 employees of a Maine plant that produces a vaccine for poultry were sickened by salmonella exposure last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Although tests confirmed salmonella exposure in only five of the workers, as many as 21 showed symptoms of infection with the bacteria. Exposure was traced to an accidental spill in November of a contaminated liquid, the agency said in its Aug. 31 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The Lohmann Animal Health International plant maintained cultures of four strains of salmonella for use in poultry vaccines, the Associated Press reported. The worker who discovered the spill in a restricted area tried to clean it up with a bleach solution and commercial disinfectant. But the worker then threw away materials and sterilized the mop in more frequently used areas, the wire service said.
It's believed that some of the workers became sick from being in the room where the materials were disposed of, and others became ill from subsequent person-to-person contact, the CDC said.
None of the workers -- who had common symptoms of salmonella infection including diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and vomiting -- required hospitalization, the agency said.
Type 2 Diabetes May Be Linked to Brain Cell Disorder
Defects in brain neurons' ability to respond to glucose (blood sugar) may play a role in the onset of type 2 diabetes, according to a new study published in the journal Nature.
In this form of the disease, the body's cells fail to adequately regulate the amount of blood glucose. Previous research had suggested that this stems from two simultaneous problems: the improper function of pancreatic beta cells, and the inability of insulin to act on targeted areas of the body, including the liver, fat and muscles.
The new study identifies a third factor that could contribute to the disease: neurons in the brain that aren't properly stimulated by glucose. The study was led by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Oregon Health and Science University, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
"For many years, we've known that subpopulations of neurons in the brain become 'excited' by glucose," Dr. Bradford Lowell, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement. "But we haven't understood exactly how or why this is significant. With this study we show that these neurons sense increases in glucose and then initiate responses aimed at returning blood-glucose levels to normal. This is the first demonstration that glucose-sensing by neurons plays an important role in responding to rising blood glucose levels."
The findings, Lowell said, could lead to new treatments for type 2 diabetes.
Toys 'R' Us Coloring Cases Recalled for Lead Hazard
About 27,000 "Imaginarium" wood coloring cases made in China and sold at Toys "R" Us stores are being recalled because the ink on the outer packing of the wood contains lead, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday.
Some of the black watercolor paint included in the kit also contains excessive amounts of lead, the CPSC said. No injuries have been reported.
The 213-piece kits include crayons, pastels, colored pencils, fiber pens, a paintbrush, ruler, and pencil sharpener. Toys "R" Us stores across the United States sold the product from October 2006 to this month for about $20.
Consumers should take the product away from children immediately and return it to the nearest Toys "R" Us store for store credit.
This recall is the latest in a series involving toys made in China that contain lead-based paint.
Fresh Spinach Recalled for Possible Salmonella Contamination
Bags of fresh spinach sold throughout the continental United States and Canada are being recalled for possible contamination with salmonella bacteria, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
There were no immediate reports of illness from the spinach, distributed by Metz Fresh LLC of King City, Calif. While the recall includes 8,118 cases of spinach, the company said it had withheld more than 90 percent of the affected product from distribution.
The recall includes 10- and 16-ounce bags, 4-pound cartons, and cartons that contain four 2.5-pound bags. The following tracking codes are affected: 12208114, 12208214 and 12208314.
The recall was announced nearly a year after an outbreak of E. coli bacteria in fresh spinach led to the deaths of three people and made 200 others sick, the AP reported. That outbreak was traced to spinach from Natural Selection Foods LLC, a company in San Juan Bautista, Calif.
To learn more about the latest recall, contact Metz Fresh at 831-386-1018.
1 in 8 Ground Zero Workers Has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
One in eight workers who toiled at the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Wednesday.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, come from the World Trade Center Health Registry's initial survey of nearly 30,000 workers, the department said in a statement. Respondents ranged from police officers and firefighters to clergy and construction workers.
The incidence of PTSD was greatest among workers who were at the site for three months or longer, suggesting that shortening work periods after future emergencies might reduce workers' risk of acquiring the disorder, the department said.
For reasons that aren't well understood, firefighters developed PTSD at nearly twice the rate of police officers.
Symptoms of PTSD include intense fear, hopelessness, and horror, and reliving the triggering event when reminded of it. Common triggers include war, terrorism, and personal assault.
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