Health Highlights: April 29, 2008

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

Nursing Home Costs Continue to Rise

For the fifth consecutive year, the costs of U.S. nursing homes, assisted living facilities and some in-home care services have increased, according to a study released Tuesday by Genworth Financial Inc. The survey also found that costs could rise further due to a shortage of long-term care workers.

Between 2004 and 2008, the annual average cost for a private room in a nursing home rose 17 percent, from $65,185 to $76,460, or $209 per day. The cost per day this year ranged from $125 in Louisiana to $515 in Alaska, the Associated Press reported.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Nursing Home Costs Continue to Rise
    • Chromosome 1 Linked With Triglycerides
    • American Women Concerned About Health Costs
    • FDA Rejects Merck Cholesterol Drug
    • White House Hinders EPA Action on Toxic Chemicals: Report
    • Daycare May Reduce Children's Leukemia Risk

The average annual cost this year for assisted living facilities is $36,090, a 25 percent increase from $28,763 in 2004. Per month costs this year ranged from $1,981 in Arkansas to $4,921 in New Jersey.

The cost of a Medicare-certified home health aide increased to an average of $38 an hour, while costs for in-home workers not certified by Medicare were an average of $18 an hour for homemaker services and $19 for home health aide services, the AP reported.

The study authors analyzed data from more than 10,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care providers.

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Chromosome 1 Linked With Triglycerides

A region on human chromosome 1 is linked with triglyceride levels, say researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio. High levels of triglycerides increase the risk of heart disease.

The study appears in the Journal of Lipid Research.

Many factors influence levels of circulating triglycerides, including diet, exercise and smoking. But about 40 percent of triglyceride level variation among people is due to genetic factors, United Press International reported.

In this study of 714 people from 388 white families with premature heart disease, the Cleveland Clinic team identified an area on chromosome 1 that's linked with triglyceride levels. It contains 375 known genes, but the researchers have zeroed in on three genes.

The genes are: angiopoietin-like 3, which inhibits enzymes that break down fats; sterol carrier protein 2, which helps convert cholesterol into bile acids; and the receptor for the appetite hormone leptin, UPI reported.

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American Women Concerned About Health Costs

Many American women are worried about rising health costs, suggests a survey conducted by Meredith Corp. and NBC Universal.

The survey of 3,000 women, ages 18 to 64, found that two-thirds of respondents felt financial strain was a major threat to the American family. In fact, they rated it a much greater threat than divorce, loss of faith/spirituality, both parents working, unwed mothers, couples living together, and liberal views on sex and sexuality, United Press International reported.

Among the survey's other findings:

  • 46 percent of respondents said they were extremely concerned about rising health care costs, and 18 percent said they didn't have health insurance. That rate was 24 percent among single mothers with minor children.
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