Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Cheney Must Make Decision About Heart Transplant
A decision on whether to seek a heart transplant will likely
have to be made by former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney within
the next few months, suggests a news report.
The mechanical heart pump Cheney, 69, received in July saved his
life, according to doctors. The pump, called a ventricular assist
device, helps the heart push blood through the arteries. The
devices are implanted as a last resort either as a permanent
measure or to keep a patient alive until they undergo a heart
Doctors say Cheney has a narrow time frame to make a decision
about seeking a heart transplant because he will soon be too old to
qualify for the procedure,
The New York Times reported.
It is possible for patients with a ventricular assist device to
live for years, but the long-term prospects are unclear. The
devices carry a significant risk of infection.
None of Cheney's family or friends will reveal details about his
heart condition or what he may be doing to deal with it,
The Times reported.
Many Girls Make First Trip to Tanning Salon With Mom: Study
Mothers play a key role in their daughters' use of tanning
salons, says a new study.
It included 227 female undergraduate students, ages 18 to 30, at
East Tennessee State University. Nearly 40 percent said their first
tanning salon experience was with their mother. These women tended
to start tanning at a younger age than other women (age 14 vs. 16)
and were nearly five times as likely to be "heavy tanners,"
The findings, published in the December issue of the journal
Archives of Dermatology, didn't surprise lead researcher Katie Baker, a doctoral student at East Tennessee State University.
"I grew up in a community where indoor tanning was prevalent, and young women who want to start tanning before they reach 16 or 17 have to rely on their mother to not only transport them, but to pay for their tanning," Baker told MSNBC.com.
Tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation are one of the top cancer
risks, according to the World Health Organization. A ban on tanning
beds for people under 18 was considered last year by the U.S. Food
and Drug Administration.
Patient Beds Catching Fire: FDA
An Ohio company has received a warning letter from U.S. health
officials about problems with its electric beds, including fires
that caused injury and death.
The Food and Drug Administration's Dec. 15 letter to Invacare
Corp. says the company failed to document and investigate recurring
malfunctions with the beds. The letter was posted Tuesday morning
on the agency's Web site, the
Associated Press reported.
Between April and July 2010, Invacare received four complaints
about sparks or fires associated with the beds' electronics, the
FDA said. Those cases include one where a bed caught fire and two
patients had to be treated for smoke inhalation and chest pain, and
another where a fire that started at the foot of the bed caused a
There were other complaints about patients getting stuck between
the mattress and bed rail, including one case where the problem
allegedly caused the death of an 11-year-old child,
The FDA told Invacare it must respond with plans for correcting
the issues within 15 working days after receiving the letter.
Medicare Won't Pay for End-of-Life Planning
End-of-life planning will no longer be included in regulations
covering annual physical examinations for Medicare patients, the
Obama administration said Tuesday.
The abrupt change in the rule was done for procedural reasons,
according to administration officials, but it's believed that
political pressure was also a factor, according to
The New York Times.
During debate about the new health care law, Republicans said
inaccurately that a House version of the bill allowed a government
panel to decide about end-of-life care for Medicare recipients. The
White House is preparing to defend the health care law against
attack by the new Republican majority in the House.
The reference in the Medicare regulation that listed "advance
care planning" as one of the services that could be offered in
annual physical examinations was widely supported by doctors and
providers of hospice care,
The Times reported.
Some officials at the Department of Health and Human Services
are upset by the decision to delete the reference to end-of-life
care. The officials say such discussions help ensure patients get
the care they desire.
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