Health Highlights: Sept. 1, 2008

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

Angioplasty Needs More Follow-Up Than Bypass: Study

While bypass surgery and angioplasty offer similar results for heart patients with clogged arteries, those who have angioplasties are twice as likely to require another procedure within a year, new research contends.

For a presentation Monday at the European Society of Cardiology meeting in Munich, European doctors compared the effectiveness of open-heart surgery versus angioplasty in a trial of more than 3,000 patients in Europe and the United States, according to the Associated Press.

WHAT TO KNOW
    • Angioplasty Needs More Follow-Up Than Bypass: Study
    • Maine Bans Smoking in Cars With Kids
    • Alcohol to Blame for 12% of Native Americans' Deaths: Report
    • Feds Can Bar Mad Cow Tests: Court

About a third of the patients had medical conditions that required surgery. The remaining patients were randomly assigned to receive either bypass surgery or angioplasty, a non-surgical procedure which involves use of a stent to prop the artery open.

After one year, researchers found that the death rate among the two groups was virtually the same: 7.7 percent among surgery patients and 7.6 percent among angioplasty patients, the AP reported. But almost 14 percent of those who had angioplasty needed another procedure after a year, compared with about 6 percent of bypass patients. On the other hand, those who had surgery had about a 2 percent stroke risk versus almost zero risk for those who had an angioplasty.

The study was paid for by Boston Scientific, makers of heart stents.

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Maine Bans Smoking in Cars With Kids

On Monday, the state of Maine joined California, Arkansas, Louisiana and some Canadian provinces in banning smoking in a car when children are present.

The new law outlaws smoking in cars while youths under 16 are present. The law authorizes a $50 fine for violation, but for the first year police may issue only warnings, the Associated Press reported.

Gov. John Baldacci hailed the legislation as a strike against secondhand smoke when he signed it into law in April. He said tobacco use costs too many lives and too much money.

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Alcohol to Blame for 12% of Native Americans' Deaths: Report

An estimated 12 percent of the deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives are due to alcohol, a figure that's more than three times higher than for the general population.

That's the conclusion of a federal report released this week that found that 11.7 percent of deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives between 2001 and 2005 were alcohol-related, compared with 3.3 percent for the population as a whole, the Associated Press reported.

Dwayne Jarman, one of the study authors and an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the report was the first national survey to measure the alcohol-related death rate among American Indians. And, he said, it should serve as a "call to action" for federal, state, local and tribal governments to combat the problem.

The two leading causes of alcohol-related deaths among Indians were traffic accidents and alcoholic liver disease; each caused more than 25 percent of the 1,514 alcohol-related deaths recorded over the study's four-year period.

The report also listed homicide to blame for 6.6 percent of alcohol-related deaths; suicide, 5.2 percent; and injuries due to falls, 2.2 percent, the AP said.

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