Health Highlights: July 29, 2007

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

VP Cheney's Heart Monitoring Device Replaced

Vice President Dick Cheney's heart monitoring device was replaced Saturday with a similar, updated model.

The New York Times reports the minor surgery to implant the cardioverter-defibrillator that monitors and corrects Cheney's heart rhythm, was conducted without incident.

The vice president was sedated for the Saturday morning procedure, the Times reports, and he walked out of the George Washington University Hospital clinic at midday and returned home. The device "was successfully replaced without complication," the newspaper quotes Cheney spokeswoman Megan E. McGinn, as saying.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • VP Cheney's Heart Monitoring Device Replaced
    • NIH Division Director Under Investigation in Ethics Inquiry
    • Next Year's Vioxx Trials May Include Stroke Cases
    • Sara Lee Recalls 27 Whole Wheat Bread Brands
    • Toro Electric Blowers Recalled
    • Products Recalled for Botulism Risk Still Available

The device was implanted in 2001 and acts as both a pacemaker and defibrillator to shock the heart back into normal rhythm. The wires that run from the device into the heart were not replaced, the Times reported.

McGinn said Friday the need to replace the aging battery had been determined at a physical examination in June. She said the vice president, 66, was scheduled to have the procedure at George Washington University Hospital, located a few blocks from the White House.

At last month's checkup, Cheney also had a stress test, which found nothing unexpected, the Associated Press said.

Cheney has a history of cardiovascular problems, including a clot in his left leg discovered in March; a weak spot in an artery called an aneurism that was surgically repaired in 2005; four prior heart attacks; and quadruple bypass surgery, the wire service said.

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NIH Division Director Under Investigation in Ethics Inquiry

A director of one of the divisions of the National Institutes of Health spent more than triple the amount allocated for his laboratory and continued to hire out his services as an expert on asbestos despite an ethics policy recommending against doing so, Congressional investigators have found, the New York Times reports.

Dr. David A. Schwartz, a Schwartz, who in 2005 became head of the NIHs National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, spent $6 million in 2006 on his laboratory, despite agreeing to spend $1.8 million, billed the U.S. for personal items and asked staff members to run personal errands for him, the newspaper reports. Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa), ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee is investigating the allegations.

NIH spokesman John Burklow told the Times that the Institutes had initiated a number of measures in response to the investigation: Schwartz no longer had permission to consult with law firms, he no longer ran his laboratory, he had resigned his faculty position at Duke University, and that he repaid unauthorized office and travel expenses.

The newspaper quotes a statement from Schwartz: "I firmly believe that I have acted ethically and in the best interests" of the health institute and that he was working to resolve "the issues raised."

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Next Year's Vioxx Trials May Include Stroke Cases

Until now, all of the lawsuits brought to trial involving the controversial painkiller Vioxx had centered on plaintiffs who had suffered heart attacks.

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