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Today's Health Highlights: Jan. 22, 2002

Handling Stress as Effective as Aerobics for Cardiac PatientsRubella on the RunUrinary Tract Infections Tied to Fevers in Infants Artificial Heart Patient Leaves Philadelphia Hospital Mislabeled Soups Are Wolf(gang) In Beans' Clothing Mail Anthrax Breakthrough Is Close: CNN

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

Managing Stress as Effective as Aerobics for Cardiac Patients

No one doubts the benefits of physical exercise.

But for heart patients, learning how to manage stress may work just as well. The New York Times reports on a five-year Duke University Medical Center study showing that lowering stress in cardiac patients worked even better than the usual program of diet and exercise.

"Lots of physicians remain very skeptical about the value of psychological interventions in treating patients with medical disorders," the Times quotes Dr. James Blumenthal, a Duke psychologist, as saying. Dr. Blumenthal was the lead author of the study. "Our data suggest that these interventions do affect the process, and the benefits seemed to be maintained over time," he added.

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Rubella on the Run

What was once known as German measles is heading the way of smallpox -- near-extinction.

HealthDay reports that rubella is on the verge of joining smallpox and polio on the list of diseases eradicated in the United States, according to a new report.

The threat of the disease remains, however, and the demographics have shifted considerably, meaning the public health system needs to revise its stance, says the report, which appears in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The near-eradication testifies to the success of the childhood rubella vaccination program, which began in 1969. Rubella itself is not a serious illness, but if a pregnant woman passes the disease to her fetus, it can result in miscarriage, stillbirth or congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). That syndrome may bring with it cataracts, hearing impairment, cardiac disease and developmental delay.

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Infant Fevers Linked to Urinary Tract Infections

When an infant less than 3 months old has a high fever, Tylenol may not be the only solution. The skyrocketing temperature could be the sign of a dangerous urinary tract infection, especially in girls and uncircumcised boys.

But a survey of pediatricians finds that they often fail to recognize the extra risks facing these babies, according to HealthDay.

"The trouble is that babies in this age group can have serious infections and you may not know it," says Dr. Thomas Newman, professor of pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and co-author of a new study into how doctors treat fever in newborns.

"The higher the fever, the more likely they are to have a urinary tract infection," Newman says.

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Artificial Heart Patient Leaves Hospital

A 51-year-old Philadelphia man who is only the fifth person to receive a self-contained artificial heart was able to leave the hospital Jan. 14, 70 days after the surgery, the Associated Press reported today.

Retired baker James Quinn left Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia and checked into a nearby hotel, where a team of caregivers is staying in an adjoining room.

Quinn received the AbioCor artificial heart, which consists of plastic and titanium. It has been inserted into six patients who were dying of heart failure and were too ill to receive a human heart transplant. Three of the patients have died of problems unrelated to the artificial heart. Those problems included organ failure and massive bleeding during surgery.

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Mislabeled Soups Are Wolf(gang) In Beans' Clothing

Some shoppers who think they're purchasing cans of garbanzo beans may be surprised to find the cans contain Wolfgang Puck's fanciful cuisine instead.

In a labeling mix-up, the Idaho company that cans both products is recalling about 6,200 cans of Puck's popular soup that are incorrectly labeled as garbanzo beans.

Chiquita Processed Foods says the recalled products include soups labeled as 15.5-ounce cans of "S&W Garbanzo Beans." But the cans actually contain 14.5 ounces of "Wolfgang Puck's Chicken Parmesan with Pasta Hearty Soup."

The U.S. Agriculture Department says the mislabeled cans do not pose a health hazards.

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Mail Anthrax Breakthrough Is Close: CNN

Investigators appear to be on the verge of cracking the genetic sequencing of the anthrax strain that killed five Americans, and announcement of the breakthrough could come this week, CNN reports.

Quoting sources close to the federal investigation, CNN says that discovering the genetic sequencing could reveal the age of the deadly strain that was sent in the mail and could lead investigators to the laboratory or laboratories where it was produced.

However, the sources said that even that may not be enough to nail a suspect because so many scientists have access to anthrax for research purposes.

The FBI and the U.S. Postal Service have been trying to locate the person or group that began sending anthrax-laced letters through the mail in mid-September to Senate offices in Washington and media outlets in New York and Florida. Two of the five people who died from inhalation anthrax were postal employees.

All the deaths were traced to the Ames strain of the bacteria, which was first isolated in Iowa and has been maintained by the U.S. Army since 1980 for testing purposes. The CIA also uses small amounts of the strain for research.

Investigators have questioned workers at several laboratories in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

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