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Harvard Reviews of Health News


Harvard News ReviewsA team of Harvard physicians reviews health news headlines 24/7/365, and creates commentary and provides advice on how a consumer should react to the news. For urgent breaking health news, articles are written within 6-18 hours of the news story’s first appearance. If desired, they can be delivered immediately upon completion. Over 200 new articles are written annually.

Taking Pulse May Help Track Stroke Risk

People who have had strokes and their family members can help detect an increased risk of a second stroke, a new study suggests. The technique used was a simple one: checking the pulse. The study included 256 people. Each person had a prior stroke caused by a blood clot. Stroke survivors and close family members were trained to detect atrial fibrillation by taking the pulse. This irregular heart rhythm can increase the risk of blood clots forming in the heart. A clot that travels to the brain may cause a stroke. All of the stroke survivors received EKG tests. They found that 57 people had atrial fibrillation. The EKG results were compared with pulse readings performed by stroke survivors, relatives and health professionals. Pulse readings done by patients correctly detected 54% of the cases of atrial fibrillation. Relatives detected 77% and health professionals 97%.

Study Tallies Cancer-Spread Risk of Procedure

A study has provided new estimates of the risk that one surgical technique to remove the uterus might spread an undetected cancer. The study looked at morcellation. This technique uses a power cutter to slice the uterus into tiny pieces. Sometimes hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) is done through several small incisions instead of one large incision. The surgeon views the area through a tool called a laparoscope. Cutting up the uterus with morcellation allows removal through the small incisions. But in some cases, undetected cancers have been cut up at the same time. This has allowed cancer to spread to other organs. In April, the Food and Drug Administration discouraged use of this procedure. The new study looked at insurance data for 230,000 hysterectomies. All were done using the less invasive procedure with small incisions. About 36,000 used morcellation.

No Heart-Attack Drop for Younger Adults

Though heart attacks have declined among older adults, a new study finds that rates have stayed the same for those under 55. And younger women continue to do worse than younger men after heart attacks. The new study covered the years 2001 through 2010. Researchers looked at records of nearly 231,000 hospital stays for heart attacks. All of the patients were ages 30 to 54. About one-quarter of them were women. Hospital-stay rates for heart attack remained about the same throughout the decade. This was true for both men and women. Women tended to stay longer in the hospital than men. They also were more likely to die in the hospital, though their death rates fell during the decade. Death rates remained the same for men. Black women were more likely than white women to have a hospital stay for a heart attack. There was not much difference between the rates for black and white men.

Harvard Reviews of Health News

People who have had strokes and their family members can help detect an increased risk of a second stroke, a new study suggests. The technique used was a simple one: checking the pulse. The study included 256 people. Each person had a prior stroke caused by a...

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