Health Highlights: Jan. 27, 2011

Nelson Mandela Hospitalized With Lung Infection: Reports Court Pledges Quick Action on Health Care Law Appeal Salty Foods Affect Blood Vessels: Study Drug Addiction, Dependency Common Among Wounded Soldiers: Report College Students' Emotional Health Declining: Survey Trans Fats May Boost Depression Risk: Study

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

Nelson Mandela Hospitalized With Lung Infection: Reports

Human rights icon and former South African President Nelson Mandela was hospitalized Thursday with a lung infection, according to reports from CBS News and other media.

According to his office, 92-year-old Mandela went to the hospital for routine tests and is in "no danger and is in good spirits." However, one source close to the situation told CBS that Mandela was on holiday and returned to Johannesburg Sunday after complaining of chest pains.

A family member told CBS that Mandela had developed a lung infection and was having breathing problems. The same (unidentified) family member said that while any illness is a concern at Mandela's age, the family is not overly worried.

While the anti-apartheid leader has regular hospital checkups, the length of this particular stay has created a media frenzy in South Africa. A statement from South African President Jacob Zuma's office said that, "President Mandela is comfortable and is well looked after by a good team of medical specialists."


Court Pledges Quick Action on Health Care Law Appeal

A federal appeals court in Virginia has promised quick consideration of a lower court ruling against a key part of the new federal health care law.

The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond said Wednesday that it has scheduled May 10 to May 13 to hear arguments in the Obama administration's appeal of last month's ruling by Judge Howard E. Hudson of the Federal District Court in Richmond, The New York Times reported.

Hudson ruled that the section of the health care law that requires citizens to obtain commercial health insurance exceeds the boundaries of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. But he permitted the law to remain in effect pending appeal.

Two other federal judges have upheld the insurance requirement while a ruling from a fourth judge in Florida is expected soon, The Times reported.

Many experts believe the issue will likely be settled by the Supreme Court.


Salty Foods Affect Blood Vessels: Study

Obvious changes in your arteries occur just 30 minutes after you eat salty foods, says a new study.

The Australian researchers found that foods with high levels of salt rapidly impair the ability of blood vessels to widen, even in people with normal blood pressure, reported.

The long-term effects of this impact on blood vessels is unknown.

"What surprised us was that this is similar to responses seen after a meal high in saturated fats, which we know can damage blood-vessels in the long-term," said lead author Kacie M. Dickinson, a researcher at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Adelaide, reported.

The study appears in this month's issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Drug Addiction, Dependency Common Among Wounded Soldiers: Report

Many of the 10,000 U.S. soldiers in special wounded-care companies or battalions are drug addicted or dependent, according to a report released Tuesday by the Army inspector general.

According to the document, most case managers and nurses interviewed by investigators said 25 percent to 35 percent of soldiers in the Warrior Transition Units "are over-medicated, abuse prescriptions and have access to illegal drugs," USA Today reported.

Prescription narcotic pain reliever addiction or dependency is a major issue.

The findings were called into question by Army Col Darryl Williams, commander of Warrior Transition Units. He said the estimates of drug addictions and dependency are not statistically valid since they're based on estimates from the nurses and case workers, USA Today reported.


College Students' Emotional Health Declining: Survey

The pressures of high school and the effects of the recession have pushed the emotional health of U.S. college freshmen to its lowest point since an annual survey began looking at the issue 25 years ago.

"The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010" survey of more than 200,000 incoming full-time college students found an increase in the percentage of students who said their emotional health was below average. The percentage of students who said their emotional health was above average fell to 52 percent, compared with 64 percent in 1985. The New York Times reported.

The proportion of students who said they were frequently overwhelmed by all they had to do during their senior year of high school rose to 29 percent from 27 percent the previous year. There was a large gender gap in this area, with 18 percent of males and 39 percent of females feeling frequently overwhelmed in their final year of high school.

The study also indicated that the poor economy is causing stress for college freshmen. Due to family money problems, more students are having to get loans to finance their education. Students are having more trouble finding summer jobs, and are worried about their college debt and job prospects when they graduate, The Times reported.


Trans Fats May Boost Depression Risk: Study

People who eat foods with trans fats may be at increased risk for depression, according to a new study.

Spanish researchers tracked 12,059 people for six years and found that those who ate the most trans fats were 48 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did not consume trans fats, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Participants with a high intake of healthier polyunsaturated fats - found in olive oil, for example -- were less likely to develop depression.

The researchers noted that many people with heart disease also have depression and it's possible that trans fats contribute to both conditions by causing inflammation in the body, the Times reported.

The study appears in the journal PLoS One.


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