Health Highlights: Dec. 16, 2008

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

Actor Peter Falk Has Alzheimer's, Daughter Says

Actor Peter Falk, best known as the disheveled TV detective Columbo, whose "Just one more thing" became a household phrase, has developed Alzheimer's disease and no longer recognizes people, according to papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the Associated Press reported.

The papers were filed by the 81-year-old Falk's daughter, Catherine Falk, requesting a conservatorship of his assets. A hearing has been scheduled for late January, the AP said.

    • Actor Peter Falk Has Alzheimer's, Daughter Says
    • Cleveland Clinic Announces First U.S. Face Transplant
    • Self-Harm Not Limited to Teen Girls: Survey
    • Home-Based Therapy Benefits COPD Patients: Study
    • Zimbabwe Cholera Death Toll 978: U.N.

People magazine's online edition quoted Catherine Falk's petition as saying her father "requires full-time custodial care for his health and safety," and she was worried that he could "easily be deceived into transferring away property."

Falk, who has won five Emmys and a Golden Globe award, also has been an Academy Award nominee twice. He lives in Beverly Hills with his wife, actress Shera Danese, to whom he has been married since 1977.


Cleveland Clinic Announces First U.S. Face Transplant

The United States' first almost total face transplant was done a few weeks ago at the Cleveland Clinic, it was announced Tuesday.

About 80 percent of a woman's face was replaced with that of a dead female donor. The procedure was performed by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, the Associated Press reported.

The Cleveland Clinic did not release the name or age of the transplant recipient, and has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday.

The world's first face transplant was conducted three years ago on a French woman who'd been mauled by her dog, the AP reported. Since then, two other face transplants have been performed: on a Chinese farmer attacked by a bear, and on a European man disfigured by a genetic condition.


Self-Harm Not Limited to Teen Girls: Survey

Self-harm isn't a problem limited to teenage girls, suggests a survey by the British mental health group Sane.

The survey of nearly 1,000 people with a history of self-harm found that more than 10 percent of respondents were male and that some respondents didn't start harming themselves until they were in their 50s, BBC News reported.

About 84 percent said they tried to hide their behavior from their family and 66 percent tried to hide it from friends. Many inflicted damage to a part of their body that was easy to conceal from others or where the injury could be easily explained away as an accident.

Only about 12 percent of respondents said their first act of self-harm was motivated by a desire for attention, and this decreased to about 8 percent for subsequent acts of self-harm, BBC News reported.

The findings show that a wide range of people inflict self-harm, said Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane.


Home-Based Therapy Benefits COPD Patients: Study

For people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a home-based exercise program is as good as hospital-based rehabilitation, says a Canadian study that included more than 250 patients with the lung disease.

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