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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.

Wider Spread for Hospital-Linked Infections

In a recent year, more than 450,000 Americans had a type of severe diarrhea that most often occurs in health-care facilities. But one-third of them had not been in a hospital or nursing home recently, a study found. About 29,000 of those who were infected died. The diarrhea was caused by Clostridium difficile (C. diff) bacteria. These infections are hard to cure. Researchers used information from 2011. They looked at C. diff infections in 10 states. Two-thirds of them occurred in hospitals and nursing homes. The other one-third occurred in the community. But 80% of the community patients had been to see a doctor or dentist recently. Most of them received antibiotics. C. diff bacteria are most likely to grow and produce toxins when antibiotics kill the normal, harmless bacteria in the intestine. The New England Journal of Medicine published the study.

Study Tallies Painkiller Risk after Heart Attack

Some common painkillers may increase the risk of second heart attacks when taken along with drugs to prevent clots, a large new study finds. The study adds to concerns about potential heart risks of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs are taken to reduce pain and inflammation. They include over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve). They also include the prescription drug celecoxib (Celebrex). The new study used data from a Danish registry of 61,971 people who survived a first heart attack. Everyone was taking at least 1 anti-clotting drug, such as aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix). Researchers looked at what happened during an average follow-up period of 3½ years. About one-third of those in the study filled at least 1 prescription for an NSAID.

Fewer Heart Deaths for Finnish Sauna Users

Men who use a traditional Finnish sauna may be less likely than others to die from heart disease, a new study suggests. Most doctors now recommend that heart patients stay away from saunas because of the demands they place on the heart and blood vessels. A traditional Finnish sauna is dry and very hot. The new study included 2,300 middle-aged Finnish men. Researchers asked them questions about their sauna use, among other things. Then they kept track of the men for an average of 20 years. In that time, men who used a sauna twice a week or more had lower rates of sudden death, other heart-related death or stroke than those who used a sauna only once a week. Reductions in death risk ranged from 22% to 27% for those with 2 to 3 sauna sessions. Risk was 48% to 63% lower for men who used a sauna 4 to 7 times a week. Men who used a sauna more often also had lower overall death rates.

Harvard Reviews of Health News

In a recent year, more than 450,000 Americans had a type of severe diarrhea that most often occurs in health-care facilities. But one-third of them had not been in a hospital or nursing home recently, a study found. About 29,000 of those who were infected die...

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