Our weekly roundup of the latest news in the world of health.
Older patients do just as well after bypass surgery performed with a heart-lung machine as with the "beating heart" procedure, a study finds. The study was published this week. A state judge this week overturned New York City's ban on sales of large sweetened drinks. He said the law exceeded the Board of Health's authority. A study released this week found an increased risk of heart problems in women who had radiation for breast cancer. The women's overall heart risk was small, however.
This Issue: Study: Stopping Heart for Bypass OK in Elderly Judge Overturns NYC Big-Soda Ban Breast-Cancer Radiation May Increase Heart Risk
In the News:
Study: Stopping Heart for Bypass OK in Elderly
Having heart bypass surgery using a heart-lung machine is safe even in the elderly, two new studies have found. And the procedure doesn't cause mental decline, the research found. Standard coronary artery bypass surgery stops the heart and uses a machine to pump blood. Some people have complained of problems with memory or thinking after this surgery. So doctors also have learned to do bypass surgery on a beating heart. This is called "off-pump" bypass. The first new study included 4,752 people scheduled for bypass surgery. They were randomly assigned to either the standard or off-pump procedure. After one year, the rates of death, heart attack, stroke and kidney failure were similar in the two groups. That was also true for people ages 75 and older. People in both groups also had similar scores on mental-sharpness tests and a survey about quality of life. A second study included 2,539 elderly patients who were randomly assigned to traditional or off-pump bypass. Again, rates of heart attack and other problems were similar in the two groups after a year. The New England Journal of Medicine published the studies online this week. The Associated Press wrote about them.
Judge Overturns NYC Big-Soda Ban
A state judge this week struck down New York City's new ban on large sugary drinks, saying the Board of Health wrote a faulty rule that also exceeds its power. State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling issued the ruling. He noted that the 16-ounce limit would not apply to all sweet drinks or to all places that sell them. He called these loopholes arbitrary and therefore illegal. He also said City Council, not the Board of Health, would have the power to impose rules of this type. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city would appeal. Since Bloomberg became mayor, the city has required chain restaurants to post calorie counts and banned trans fats in restaurant food. It has prevailed in court challenges to those laws. Bloomberg urged businesses to go ahead and comply with the new drink rules, since the city may win on this issue, too. The rules apply to restaurants, bowling alleys and movie theaters. They don't affect supermarkets or convenience stores. Because of limits to city authority, they also dont apply to alcoholic or milk-based drinks. The Associated Press wrote about the ruling.
Breast-Cancer Radiation May Increase Heart Risk
A woman's risk of heart problems after breast cancer rises if she has radiation treatment, a study published this week found. Risk increased with larger levels of radiation. But no amount appeared to be completely safe. The study focused on 2,168 women in Sweden and Denmark. They were treated with radiation for breast cancer between 1958 and 2001. Researchers compared women who later had a heart attack, a procedure to open arteries or death from heart disease with women who did not have these problems. Prior research shows that 4.5% of women at overall low risk of heart disease will have such an event by age 80. That would rise to about 5.4% for a woman who had breast radiation totaling 3 Gray units, the study estimated. However, radiation has improved breast-cancer survival. For example, a large study found that it reduces the 15-year risk of dying from early breast cancer from 49.5% to 44.6%. The New England Journal of Medicine published the new study. The Associated Press wrote about it.
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