Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
U.S. Hospital Pneumonia Death Rates Fall
The rate of deaths among American adults age 18 and older
hospitalized for pneumonia fell 45 percent between 2000 and 2007, a
federal government report says.
Over that time, the average death rate due to pneumonia
decreased from 74 to 41 deaths per 1,000 hospital admissions,
according to the latest
News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and
In 2007, the states with the lowest pneumonia-related death
rates among hospitalized patients were Arizona (23 per 1,000) and
Maryland (26 per 1,000). Eight states had rates of 50 per 1,000 or
higher: Nebraska (57), Wyoming (55), Hawaii (55), West Virginia
(54), Arkansas (53), Oklahoma (53), New York (52), Vermont
Rates in other states ranged from 30 to 49 deaths per 1,000.
Lab-Made Sperm Fertilizes Eggs: Study
Japanese scientists who used laboratory-made sperm to restore
fertility in sterile mice say their achievement could lead to new
ways to treat infertility in humans.
The researchers first converted mouse embryonic cells into
sperm, which was used to fertilize mouse eggs. The resulting pups
were healthy and fertile, the
Wall Street Journal reported.
The study by the Kyoto University team was published Thursday in
While this research breaks new ground, "we have a long way to go
before it can be applied to humans," senior author Mitinori Saitou
Wall Street Journal.
Hackers May be Able to Attack Insulin Pumps: Expert
Insulin pumps and blood-sugar monitors are vulnerable to
computer hacking, according to a security researcher.
Flaws in the devices could enable a hacker to take control of an
insulin pump or alter the readouts of blood-sugar monitors, causing
diabetics to get too much or too little insulin, Jay Radcliffe told
Radcliffe is a diabetic who tested his own diabetes equipment.
He presented his findings at a security conference Thursday in Las
"My initial reaction was that this was really cool from a technical perspective," he told the AP. "The second reaction was one of maybe sheer terror, to know that there's no security around the devices which are a very active part of keeping me alive."
However, medical device makers downplay the threat, saying that
attacks have been limited to demonstrations by security experts and
are unlikely to occur in the real world, the
Laughter not Best Medicine for COPD Patients: Study
Laughter causes a short-term decline in lung function among
people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according
to a new study.
COPD is a progressive lung disorder that affects more than 12
million people in the United States and is the fourth leading cause
of death in the nation,
CBS News reported.
This study included 46 COPD patients who underwent lung function
tests immediately before and after watching a funny video or a home
repair video. Those who watched the funny video had more air
trapped in their lungs afterward, a sign of reduced lung function,
the Ohio State University researchers said.
"COPD is characterized by this increased air trapping, so our hypothesis was that laughter would reduce some of that trapped air," lead author Kim Lebowitz Feingold, a doctoral candidate, said in a written statement, CBS News reported. "But in hindsight, the findings make
sense. With laughter, people also are introducing an increased
amount of air into their lungs compared with a normal breath. These
patients have trouble getting the air out, so they are taking in
more air with laughter, but they cannot easily expire that
Healthy Diet Too Expensive for Many Americans: Study
The high cost of eating a healthy diet could make it difficult
for many Americans to meet the country's updated nutritional
guidelines, a new study says.
The new guidelines encourage people to eat more foods containing
dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin D and calcium. However, doing so
would add hundreds of dollars to their annual grocery bill,
according to the study in the journal
"We know more than ever about the science of nutrition, and yet we have not yet been able to move the needle on healthful eating," lead researcher Pablo Monsivais, an assistant professor, Department of Epidemiology and the School of Public Health, University of Washington, told the Associated Press.
The researchers say the government needs to provide help to make
it affordable for people to adhere to the nutritional
Pfizer May Attempt OTC Version of Lipitor
An over-the-counter version of the cholesterol-lowering statin
drug Lipitor is being considered by Pfizer after it loses patient
protection on the prescription version in November, a person with
inside knowledge told
The New York Times.
Lipitor is the world's best-selling drug and selling an OTC
version would reduce the financial hit Pfizer will suffer when the
patent protection expires.
However, it may be difficult for Pfizer to convince the Food and
Drug Administration that consumers can take Lipitor without a
The Times reported.
Two other drug companies -- Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb --
failed to get FDA approval for OTC versions of their statin
Pfizer refused to comment on the matter,
The Times reported.