Health Highlights: March 3, 2011

High Blood Pressure Affects 1 in 4 U.S. Adults Gabrielle Giffords Continues Recovery Progress Most U.S. Nursing Homes Employ People With Criminal Records: Report Researchers Retract Lung Cancer Study Surgeons Announce First Artificial Bronchus Graft Loss of Unborn Baby Affects Women for Years: Study

By HealthDay News HealthDay Reporter

Updated on March 03, 2011

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

High Blood Pressure Affects 1 in 4 U.S. Adults

High blood pressure was reported by more than 59 million Americans age 18 and older in 2008 and three quarters of those people were overweight, obese or morbidly obese, says a federal government report released Thursday.

Nearly 32 percent of black adults had high blood pressure, compared with 27 percent of whites and 18 percent of Hispanics, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

It also said that adults who did vigorous exercise for 30 minutes or more at least three times a week were one-third less likely to have high blood pressure than those who didn't exercise as much -- 21 percent vs. 32 percent.

Among the other findings from the analysis of 2008 data:

  • Among adults younger than 65, high blood pressure was reported by 29 percent with public health insurance, 19 percent with private insurance, and 14 percent of the uninsured.
  • High blood pressure was diagnosed in nearly 59 percent of those age 65 and older, 34 percent of those ages 45 to 64, 10 percent of those ages 25 to 44, and nearly three percent of younger adults.


Gabrielle Giffords Continues Recovery Progress

Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords recently sang "American Pie," and is eating chicken soup as she continues to recover from a gunshot wound to the head suffered during an assassination attempt in January, says a rabbi who has been visiting Giffords a couple of times a week.

She "is making the kind of progress that all of us would anticipate, whether it's words or emotions," Rabbi David Lyon told Houston TV station KHOU, reported.

He also said that Giffords, who is in the TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, has a healthy appetite. She recently sang the classic folk rock song "American Pie" with her longtime friend Rabbi Stephanie Aaron.

"Gabby likes to reach out and hold my hand and she listens carefully and smiles easily. Prayer for her is meaningful," Lyon, of Congregation Beth Israel in southwest Houston, told KHOU, reported.


Most U.S. Nursing Homes Employ People With Criminal Records: Report

A new report says 92 percent of U.S. nursing homes have one or more employees who have been convicted of at least one crime, and five percent of all nursing home workers have at least one criminal conviction.

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services checked the names of more than 35,000 nursing home employees against FBI records, The New York Times reported.

"Our analysis of FBI criminal history records revealed that 92 percent of nursing facilities employed at least one individual with at least one criminal conviction," said Daniel R. Levinson.

"Nearly half of nursing facilities employed five or more individuals with at least one conviction. For example, a nursing facility with a total of 164 employees had 34 with at least one conviction each," he added.

Levinson noted that no federal law or regulation specifically requires nursing homes to check whether prospective employees have federal or state criminal records.

"This sounds like a very important study. It cries out for additional regulation. Residents in these homes are so vulnerable," Charlene A. Harrington, a professor at the School of Nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, told The Times.


Researchers Retract Lung Cancer Study

A lung cancer study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 has been retracted by former Duke University researcher Anil Potti and colleagues.

The study said that a gene profiling test could help identify lung cancer patients who most need chemotherapy. But in letter published online Wednesday by the journal, the researchers said they have not been able to reproduce the results and "deeply regret" the effect this has had on other scientists, the Associated Press reported.

Last November, Potti resigned from Duke University amid questions about other studies he led, and as the university was investigating whether he had lied on a federal grant application.


Surgeons Announce First Artificial Bronchus Graft

In a world-first, French surgeons say they successfully grafted an artificial bronchus into a 78-year-old patient with lung cancer. A bronchus is a main branch of the airway that carries air to the lungs.

The surgery in October 2009 prevented the need for complete removal of the patient's lung. Details about the achievement appear in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

The patient "is very well," thoracic and vascular surgeon Emmanuel Martinod told Agence France-Presse.

The artificial bronchus was created using biological material strengthened by a stent. It took 10 years of research before the surgeons were ready to use this innovation in a patient.


Loss of Unborn Baby Affects Women for Years: Study

Depression and anxiety suffered by women who lose an unborn baby can continue long after they have a healthy baby, finds a new study.

Researchers looked at more than 13,000 women in the U.K. and found that those who had lost a baby in a previous pregnancy had significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety during their next pregnancy, BBC News reported.

This psychological impact continued for nearly three years after the women gave birth to a healthy baby, said the American and British researchers.

The study appears in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

"This study is important to the families of women who have lost a baby, since it is so often assumed that they get over the event quickly, yet as shown here, many do not," said Professor Jean Golding, founder of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children at the University of Bristol, BBC News reported.

"This has implications for the medical profession as well as the woman and her family," she added.


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