Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
More Discharged Hospital Patients Require Home Care: U.S.
From 1997 to 2008, the number of U.S. patients who required home
health care after being released from hospital increased about 70
percent, from 2.3 million to four million, according to a federal
government report released Wednesday.
During the same time, the number of discharged hospital patients
who did not require home care grew by less than 8 percent, from 27
million to 29 million, according to the latest
News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and
Among the other findings from the analysis of data from
- There was a 35 percent rise in the number of hospital patients
discharged to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities,
from 3.7 million to 5 million.
- The number of patients who left the hospital against medical
advice rose 40 percent, from 264,000 to 370,000.
- There was a 4 percent increase in the number of patients
transferred from one hospital to another hospital, from 846,000 to
- The number of patients who died in the hospital decreased 5
percent, from 852,000 to 811,000.
Hawaii Happiest State: Survey
Hawaii is the happiest state, while West Virginia is the most
glum, according to a new U.S. telephone survey of 352,840 people
ages 18 and older.
The national poll, conducted between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2010,
found that 10 southern states were in the lower range of happiness,
while five western states were among the top 10 happiest,
Fox News reported.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being survey focused on six
categories of well-being: life evaluation; emotional health; work
environment; physical health; healthy behavior; and basic access
(access to health care, a doctor, safe places to exercise and walk,
and community satisfaction).
The top five happiest states were: Hawaii, Wyoming, North
Dakota, Alaska and Colorado. The five least happy states were West
Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama,
Fox News reported.
Use of Pregnancy Hormone in Diet Program Causes Concern
U.S. health officials and some experts are concerned about the
popularity of a weight-loss regimen that combines daily injections
of the pregnancy hormone hCG and a near starvation diet.
Patients, mainly women, pay upward of $1,000 a month for a
consultation, a supply of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) and
the syringes needed to inject the hormone, but there is little
evidence that the regimen is effective,
The New York Times reported.
Many patients are told that the hCG will induce their bodies to
eliminate fat from areas such as the upper arms, bellies and
thighs. They're also told the hormone will prevent them from
feeling hungry or tired despite their low calorie intake.
The promotion of hCG as a diet tool is "manipulating people to
give them the sense that they're receiving something that's
powerful and potent and effective, and in fact, they're receiving
something that's nothing better than a placebo," Dr. Pieter Cohen,
a weight-loss supplement researcher and assistant professor at
Harvard Medical School, told
Homeopathic forms of hCG, such as lozenges and sprays, that are
sold over the Internet and some health food stores are fraudulent
and illegal if they claim to promote weight-loss, says the Food and
The injectable, prescription form of hCG is approved as a
treatment for infertility and other uses, and it is legal for
doctors to prescribe it "off-label" for weight loss,
The Times reported.
However, hCG packaging must carry a warning that it has not been
shown to increase weight loss, does not cause a more "attractive"
distribution of fat, and does not "decrease hunger and discomfort"
from low-calorie diets.
In addition, the hormone carries risks of blood clots,
depression, headaches and breast tenderness or enlargement, FDA
spokesman Christopher Kelly told