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Health Highlights: March 16, 2016

Denmark Happiest Nation, U.S. No. 13: Report FDA Panel Recommends Approval of Dissolving Heart Stent

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

Denmark Happiest Nation, U.S. No. 13: Report

Denmark is the happiest nation on Earth, the United States is No. 13 and Burundi is last, according to the World Happiness Report released on Wednesday.

Denmark took first place in the first report in 2012 and again the following year, but last year was knocked out of top spot by Switzerland, according to The New York Times.

In this year's report, Denmark was followed by Iceland, Norway, Finland, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.

Most of those countries are fairly homogenous with strong social safety programs, The Times said.

There was a strong link between unhappiness in a nation and inequality, the report noted.

That's a troubling finding for the U.S., where there are growing gaps in income, wealth, health and well-being, according to The Times.


FDA Panel Recommends Approval of Dissolving Heart Stent

A dissolving heart stent should be approved for sale in the United States, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended Tuesday.

The committee of outside experts said the Absorb stent is effective and safe for helping open clogged arteries that can lead to heart attack and death, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA, which typically follows the advice of its expert panels, will make a decision on the device later this year.

Abbott Laboratories wants the FDA to approve the dissolving stent as an alternative to permanent, metal stents.

The Absorb stent is made of material that remains intact for a year after implantation, and then gradually breaks down over the following two years, the AP reported.

Recently, two cardiologists noted that the Absorb stent has not been shown to offer patients better outcomes than current stents, the AP reported.

"'Here today, gone tomorrow' remains an incredibly intriguing concept that still needs further development and follow-up to reach its full potential," Dr. David Holmes and Dr. Michael Mack wrote in an editorial published last month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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