Navigation Links
The Top Health Stories Of 2009, From The Harvard Health Letter

Each year, editors of the Harvard Health Letter, in consultation with the doctors on its editorial board, choose the top 10 health stories of the year. Here are four of the items on the list for 2009.

Boston (Vocus) December 3, 2009 -- Each year, editors of the Harvard Health Letter, in consultation with the doctors on its editorial board, choose the top 10 health stories of the year. Here are four of the items on the list for 2009:

H1N1 flu: Most of the news about this year’s H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic has been reassuring. While the H1N1 virus spreads easily and makes people sick, so far it’s rarely life-threatening. A major reason for the calm has been the measured public health response. Plenty of information has been made available, and health officials gave us simple, concrete things to do to protect ourselves. A vaccine was developed and put into production, although shortages are a serious concern. We have months of flu season ahead of us and much could go wrong, but early indications show that this pandemic will stay manageable.

Health care reform: The final version was still taking shape as the Harvard Health Letter went to press, and the outcome is still in doubt, but some basic elements of health care reform looked to be in place: a mandate requiring individuals to buy health insurance, tighter regulation of health insurers, and the creation of computerized “exchanges” where people and small employers can shop for affordable policies. But chances are that legislation, if it does become law, won’t do nearly enough to control costs.

Screening tests. Fresh doubts emerged this year about the screening tests for breast and prostate cancers. A provocative analysis in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) came to the conclusion that the past 20 years of screening mammography for breast cancer and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer have led to detection and treatment of many cancers that pose minimal risk while achieving only modest reductions in the number of more advanced cases. And after the Health Letter went to press, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force came out with new mammography guidelines that said most women should not start getting mammograms before age 50 (the old guidelines said 40) and that it’s best for the tests to be done every two years, instead of every year. A huge controversy ensued, which shows, if nothing else, that screening mammography is far from a settled issue.

An alternative to warfarin? Millions of people depend on the blood-thinning drug warfarin (Coumadin), especially those with atrial fibrillation. But warfarin interacts with dozens of drugs and herbs and some foods, and frequent blood tests are often necessary to make sure the blood’s clotting capacity stays in a safe range. Patients and their doctors have accepted these drawbacks for lack of a good alternative. But this year, a good substitute might have been found. A new drug called dabigatran acts directly on thrombin, one of the key players in the formation of blood clots, and does not require blood monitoring. It has far fewer interactions with other drugs, herbs, and foods than warfarin. But the news isn’t all good: in trials, heart attacks and gastrointestinal side effects were more common among those taking the new drug than they were among those taking warfarin. The FDA is expected to approve dabigatran in 2010.

Other items on the Health Letter’s top 10 list:

  • New findings about “good” and “bad” body fat
  • Restrictions on industry gifts to doctors
  • MicroRNA-based treatment
  • Changes in blood sugar goals for patients in intensive care
  • Testing for C-reactive protein
  • Social networks as conduits for health and disease.

Read the full-length article: "Top 10 health stories of 2009"

Also in this issue:

  • The value of vitamin D
  • Regaining control of your bladder
  • How important is the gap between the two numbers in a blood pressure reading?
The Harvard Health Letter is available from Harvard Health Publications, the publishing division of Harvard Medical School, for $29 per year. Subscribe at or by calling 877-649-9457 (toll-free).

Media: Contact Raquel Schott at Raquel_Schott(at)hms(dot)harvard(dot)edu for a complimentary copy of the newsletter, or to receive our press releases directly.


Read the full story at

Source: PRWeb
Copyright©2009 Vocus, Inc.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Penn study finds pro-death proteins required to regulate healthy immune function
2. UCLA researchers identify markers that may predict diabetes in still-healthy people
3. Air pollution linked to cardiovascular risk indices in healthy young adults
4. More proof needed of safety and quality of electronic personal health records
5. Health care incentive model offers collaborative approach
6. Loneliness is bad for your health
7. Mailman School of Public Health study examines link between racial discrimination and substance use
8. Green Tea May Brew Up Healthier Skin
9. For Health Info, Women Often Turn to the Web
10. Record Number of Americans Lack Health Insurance
11. U.S. Research Funding Continues to Flatten as U.S. Health Costs Climb - in August 31 Science
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... , ... On November 10, 2015, Bohrer Brady, LLC filed a class and ... a home health care worker who provided companionship services for the elderly, ill or ... by Humana, Inc., Humana at Home, Inc., and SeniorBridge Family Companies (CT), Inc. since ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... According to an article published ... and more widely heralded as a breakthrough for performing hernia repairs. The article explains ... laparoscopic surgery is that it can greatly reduce the pain that a patient might ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... Dental professionals who would like to become ... invited to attend Dr. Mark Iacobelli’s Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM) CE course. Courses will ... , As the co-founders of Advanced Implant Mentoring (AIM), Dr. Iacobelli and Dr. D’Orazio ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... ... athletic programs, launches new Wimbledon Athletics Facebook page to educate the ... for unsuspected cardiac abnormalities. About 2,000 people under the age of 25 die ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... ... November 25, 2015 , ... On November 23rd 2015 Cozy ... personal heating products business. Cozy Products explains what this means for business moving ... well with the Cozy Products business model: to sell personal heaters that reduce energy ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... -- Henry Schein, Inc., the world,s largest provider of health ... animal health practitioners, will unveil at the Greater New ... Pavilion , which brings together for the first time ... help any practice or laboratory enter the digital age. ... of experts appearing at the Pavilion. --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  Trovagene, Inc. (NASDAQ: TROV ), ... Chief Executive Officer Antonius Schuh, Ph.D., is scheduled to ... Annual Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference. th ... Palace Hotel in New York ... Mr. Schuh will be available for one-on-one meetings during ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015 Endo International plc (NASDAQ: ENDP ... , President and CEO, will discuss corporate updates at the ... New York on Wednesday, December 2, 2015 ... on Investor Relations, and then the link to the event. ... start time to visit the site and download any streaming ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: