Health Highlights: May 13, 2007

In fact, the newspaper reports, a steady stream of pulses -- usually not felt by the patient -- might actually save more lives. Previous studies have concluded that in 80 percent of cases when a defibrillator has been implanted, a reviving jolt is never needed, the Times reports.

"A lot of these shocks should be classified as inappropriate," the newspaper quotes Wilkoff as saying. The study was sponsored by Medtronics, which makes implantable defibrillators.

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Bare Metal Stents Better for Surgery Candidates: Study

While cardiac stents covered with a drug are more effective at keeping diseased arteries propped open, heart patients who undergo non-cardiac surgery after getting a stent would do better with a bare metal one, researchers at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia have found.

A stent is a metal mesh tube designed to be inserted into a once-clogged artery to keep it from re-clogging and narrowing. But a drug-releasing stent could lead to clotting inside the stent, especially when surgery is performed within weeks of a stent placement, the researchers found. Just before their procedures, surgical candidates often are told to stop blood-thinning medicines, compounding the problem, the researchers said.

The scientists studied 60 patients who averaged 68 years old. Some 27 percent of these patients had been diagnosed with diabetes, which can complicate surgery.

Results of the research were to be announced Friday at a meeting of the Society for Cardiovascular Angioplasty and Interventions, in Orlando, Fla.

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Scientists Create Artificial Blood Derived From Plastic

An artificial blood derived from plastic molecules has been developed by British researchers at Sheffield University, BBC News reported Friday.

The plastic molecules have an iron atom at their core that functions much like hemoglobin found in human blood. Hemoglobin carries oxygen to tissues throughout the body.

The new blood, which could be used as a substitute in an emergency, does not need to be cooled and keeps longer than real blood, the researchers said.

"This product can be stored a lot more easily than blood, meaning large quantities could be carried easily by ambulances and the armed forces," Dr. Lance Twyman, one of the university's researchers, told BBC News.

The scientists are looking for more funding to develop a prototype suitable for biologic testing, the network said.

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