1. Archive

Mild heart attack care questioned

Published Oct. 1, 2005

Aggressively treating mild heart attacks with angioplasty and bypass surgery, as is now common, may do more harm than good.

A major new study found the death rate is higher when patients with these less severe heart attacks are routinely examined with tubes pushed into their hearts _ standard practice at many hospitals.

The results challenge the widely held belief among cardiologists that fast, all-out treatment is best for all victims of heart attacks.

The results of a study on 920 patients, mostly men, were presented Tuesday at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

TB spread stabilized

BERLIN _ Better treatment has stabilized the spread of tuberculosis worldwide for the first time in decades, but U.N. health officials say a growing TB epidemic in Russia is threatening Europe.

The global TB epidemic has leveled off because health workers are being trained to make sure patients take the full six-month course of medication, said World Health Organization officials.

They said Wednesday the new method could cut the number of TB cases in half over the next decade, saving 10-million lives, and could prevent the development of drug-resistant strains.

But since 1991, Russia has seen a 70 percent rise in TB cases and a 90 percent jump in TB death rates.

Tuberculosis is the world's top infectious killer. It is spread through coughing and sneezing.

Genetic test confusion

Doctors who test patients for a gene that causes colon cancer often fail to perform the test properly and commonly give inadequate or misleading information about the results, researchers reported Wednesday, raising disturbing new questions about genetic testing.

In one of the first studies to examine how doctors are using the increasing number of genetic tests being made available, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University found the colon-cancer test was mishandled surprisingly often.

The tests allow doctors to find out whether people are prone to illnesses, possibly allowing them to get lifesaving treatment or change their lifestyles to reduce their risk.

Critics have raised concerns that the tests are given without adequate counseling to cushion the emotional impact on patients and their families or ensure patients fully understand the results.

The study also found that in nearly 20 percent of the cases, doctors tested patients who did not meet the accepted criteria. And in nearly one-third of the cases, the doctor's interpretation of the results was incorrect.