Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
Nearly 5,000 U.S. children are hurt each year in falls from windows, researchers said this week. Almost all falls are from the first or second story. Two other studies offered good news. Heart attack patients are getting treated faster at U.S. hospitals, and eating certain foods can lower LDL cholesterol. Another study released this week found that memory and thinking decline more slowly in people who eat less salt and exercise more. U.S. drug regulators issued a warning this week about citalopram (Celexa), a drug for depression. The maximum dose is now 40 milligrams per day. The Food and Drug Administration said higher doses can disrupt heart function.
This Issue: Most Kids Hurt in Low-Height Window Falls Heart Attack Treatment Speeds Up in 5 Years Some Foods Can Cut Cholesterol, Study Says Study: Low-Salt Diet, Regular Exercise Help Brain FDA Cuts Celexa Dose, Cites Heart Concerns
In the News:
Most Kids Hurt in Low-Height Window Falls
Nearly 5,000 U.S. children are hurt each year in falls from windows, a new study reports. And they didn't just fall from high-rise apartments. In cases where the height of the fall was recorded, 94% were from first- or second-story windows. The new study was based on data from hospital emergency departments. About 1 out of 4 children needed to stay in the hospital. About 1 out of 500 died. But researchers said the death rate is probably a low figure. Some children who died may have not been taken to hospitals. Preschool children were most likely to fall. The study covered 19 years, ending in 2008. Within that period, injury rates from window falls declined slightly. Researchers said that may be because of more public awareness and safety measures. For example, New York City requires window guards in households with children under age 10. The journal Pediatrics published the study online this week. The Associated Press wrote about it.
Heart Attack Treatment Speeds Up in 5 Years
People are getting a key treatment for heart attack much faster than they did just a few years ago, researchers said this week. Reopening a blocked artery with a procedure called angioplasty can stop a heart attack. Doctors open the artery by blowing up a tiny balloon. Then they usually insert a tube called a stent to keep it open. The goal is to have the balloon inflated within 90 minutes of arrival at the hospital. In 2005, the median "door to balloon time" was 96 minutes at U.S. hospitals. By 2010, that time had been cut to 64 minutes, the study found. Faster treatment often means less permanent damage to the heart. The change happened mainly because of persuasion, the Associated Press (AP) said. The U.S. government and private groups found and promoted techniques to speed up the process. And hospitals adopted them. Improvements occurred even at hospitals that can't do angioplasty around the clock, AP said. They figured out faster ways to transfer people to other hospitals. The new study is based on records for a sampling of 300,000 patients. Hospitals reported the data to Medicare. The journal Circulation published the study.
Some Foods Can Cut Cholesterol, Study Says
Eating certain foods can lower cholesterol even for people who already follow a heart-healthy diet, researchers said this week. The new study included 345 people with high LDL ("bad cholesterol"). All of them were given a heart-healthy diet to follow. The diet was low in saturated fat. It included lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Some people also were taught how to fit foods that lower LDL into their diets. The foods included nuts, soy products and vegetables and grains that contained viscous fiber. After 24 weeks, LDL cholesterol had dropped 3% in the group that simply followed the heart-healthy diet. The group that also added cholesterol-lowering foods had a larger drop in LDL -- about 13%. The Journal of the American Medical Association published the study. USA Today wrote about it.
Study: Low-Salt Diet, Regular Exercise Help Brain
Too much salt and too little exercise can be bad for the brain as well as the heart, a study released this week shows. The study included 1,262 older adults. Researchers asked them about what they ate and their exercise habits. They also gave them tests to measure memory and thinking ability. These tests were repeated during the next 3 years. Among people who didn't exercise much, brain function declined faster in those who ate a lot of salt. Their average sodium intake was more than 3,091 milligrams a day. That's equal to about 1¼ teaspoons of salt. Brain function was most stable among people with low salt intake who got regular exercise. The journal Neurobiology of Aging published the study. USA Today wrote about it.
FDA Cuts Celexa Dose, Cites Heart Concerns
High doses of citalopram (Celexa, generic versions) can cause deadly heart problems, U.S. officials said this week. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the new maximum dose is 40 milligrams per day. Any more than that can disrupt the heart's electrical activity, the FDA said. The label formerly said that some patients could receive up to 60 milligrams daily. The new label also will stress that some people should not take citalopram. They include people with heart failure or certain abnormal readings on an electrocardiogram (EKG). Forest Laboratories makes Celexa. It is used for treatment of depression.
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