Health Highlights: Jan. 8, 2008

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

Doctors Implant New Generation Pacemaker to Prevent Fainting

In what they say is a world-first, doctors in Great Britain implanted a new generation pacemaker designed to help people who suffer regular fainting incidents. The doctors at St. Mary's Hospital in London implanted the Biotronik Cylos 990 pacemaker in a 65-year-old man, BBC News reported.

The device detects subtle, early changes that indicate an impending fainting episode and then takes action to prevent it.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Doctors Implant New Generation Pacemaker to Prevent Fainting
    • Children's Trailer Bikes Recalled Due to Fall Hazard
    • Less-Qualified Health Workers Can Help Fight AIDS: WHO
    • Recalled Meat May Be Tainted With E. Coli Bacteria
    • Congress Investigates Lipitor Ads Featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik
    • Red Wine Compound Helps Lower Diabetics' Blood Sugar: Study

Pacemakers are a well-established therapy in a small group of people who experience a dramatic drop in heart rate before a fainting episode. However, pacemakers haven't been all that effective in a larger group of patients who don't have a marked drop in heart rate before regular fainting spells, BBC News reported.

This new pacemaker is designed to help those patients. It monitors the heart's right ventricle, the chamber into which blood returns after it's circulated through the body. If the pacemaker detects that the right ventricle has become unusually small -- a indication of an impending fainting episode -- it takes action to prevent it, the news service said.

The doctors said it will be six months to a year before they know whether the pacemaker has been fully successful in preventing fainting episodes, BBC News reported.

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Children's Trailer Bikes Recalled Due to Fall Hazard

About 7,000 children's trailer bicycles have been recalled in the United States because the coupler that connects the trailer bike to an adult's bicycle has welds that can fail, resulting in a fall hazard to children, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Tuesday.

The recalled trailer bicycles, made in China and distributed in the United States by Pacific Cycle Inc. of Madison, Wisc., include the InStep Pathfinder, the Schwinn Run About, and the Mongoose Alley Cat, model numbers 12-PF250, 13-SC250, 13-SC350 and M5101. The company has received one report of the coupler failing, resulting in a fall and cuts to the rider.

The trailer bicycles were sold nationwide from January 2007 through August 2007, for between $80 and $120. Consumers with these trailer bicycles should immediately stop using them, the CPSC said.

For information about returning the trailer bikes and getting a refund, consumers can call Pacific Cycle toll-free at 877-564-2261.

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Less-Qualified Health Workers Can Help Fight AIDS: WHO

In developing nations with severe shortages of doctors and nurses, less-qualified health workers should be allowed greater responsibilities in providing care for HIV/AIDS patients, the World Health Organization recommended Tuesday.

Doing so would improve patient access to treatment, the WHO said. It noted that at least 57 countries, mostly in Africa, coping with large HIV/AIDS outbreaks face severe shortages of health workers, Agence France-Presse reported.

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