Health Highlights: Feb. 23, 2009

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by editors of HealthDay:

White House to Send $15 Billion to States for Medicaid

The Obama administration intends to distribute $15 billion within two days to help cash-strapped states cope with Medicaid payments to the poor.

The $15 billion is part of the newly passed $787 billion economic stimulus program, President Barack Obama told governors during a White House meeting Monday, the Associated Press reported.

Medicaid is underwritten jointly by states and the federal government.

"By the time most of you get home, money will be waiting to help 20 million vulnerable Americans in your states keep their health care coverage," Obama told the governors.

"Children with asthma will be able to breathe easier, seniors won't need to fear losing their doctors, and pregnant women with limited means won't have to worry about the health of their babies," the President said.


New Blood Thinner Approved by EU

A new blood thinner called prasugrel has just been approved by European Union regulators.

The drug will be launched in Europe in the coming weeks under the brand name Efient, Eli Lilly & Co. spokeswoman Carole Copland told the Associated Press.

Prasugrel is designed to prevent blood clots in heart disease patients who've have stents implanted to keep their arteries open.

Earlier this month, an FDA advisory panel recommended that the agency approve prasugrel, the AP reported. The FDA has twice delayed making a decision on the drug but usually follows the advice of its advisory panels.


Potato Items Pulled From Store Shelves

Several potato products that may be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes have been pulled from the shelves of Giant Food and Stop & Shop supermarkets, the Associated Press reported.

The products are 20 oz. bags of Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns, Simply Potatoes Homestyle Slices and Simply Potatoes Red Potato Wedges. The products, which have "use by" dates ranging from March 29 to April 3, 2009, were recalled by Northern Star Co., a subsidiary of food processor Michael Foods Inc.

Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can cause flu-like symptoms and can be especially dangerous for pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

No reports of illness or injuries related to the recalled potato products have been received by Quincy, Mass.-based Stop & Shop or by Landover, Md.-based Giant Food, the AP reported.

Customers who bought the products should throw out any unused portions and bring the receipts to their stores for a full refund, the companies said.


Job Affects Obesity Risk

Obesity rates are higher among blue- collar workers and those who work shifts and long hours than among white collar workers and those with regular hours and shorter hours, according to a Statistics Canada study.

The analysis of data from two national surveys conducted in 2005 found that men working more than 40 hours a week were more likely to be obese than those who worked 30 to 40 hours a week, and that male and female shift workers were more likely to be obese than those with regularly scheduled work hours, CBC News reported.

Stress caused by long and irregular work hours may be one cause of the higher obesity levels, said study author Jungwee Park, who added that irregular work schedules may also make it more difficult for people to eat a healthy diet.

Park also found a significant link between low education levels and increased risk of obesity in workers ages 35 to 54. Those with less than a high school diploma were 1.6 times more likely to be obese than those with a post-secondary education. However, this kind of association between education and obesity wasn't seen in workers ages 18 to 34, CBC News reported.

The study also found that overall rates of obesity are increasing.

"In 2005, 15.7 percent of employed Canadians aged 18 to 64, or more than two million people, were obese, up from 12.5 percent in the mid-1990s," Park said.

Last Updated:

Related Articles