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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.

Teens at Top High Schools Take Fewer Health Risks

Going to a top-performing public high school can reduce very risky health behaviors among low-income teens, a new study suggests. These behaviors include binge drinking, substance use at school, risky sex and joining a gang. The study included high school students from low-income neighborhoods in Los Angeles who applied to top-performing charter schools. These schools choose students through a lottery. All of the students had similar test scores. They also came from similar family backgrounds. Researchers surveyed the health behaviors of two groups of students. One group included 521 students who got in to one of these top schools through the lottery. The other group included 409 students who applied but did not get in. The survey showed that 36% of the charter-school students compared with 42% of the other students admitted to very risky behaviors.

Deaths Drop Sharply in HIV Population

People infected with HIV in wealthier countries are 28% less likely to die early than they were in 1999, a new study shows. Only 29% of deaths were related to AIDS, the disease caused by HIV. They were still the most common cause of death, but death rates fell by about one-third. The study authors looked at medical data on about 50,000 HIV-infected people. They lived in Australia, Europe or the United States. The study covered the years 1999 through 2011. During these years, HIV medicines improved so much that many infected people who get regular treatment can live a normal life span. About 4,000 people in the study died. The rates of death from heart disease, stroke and related causes dropped by about two-thirds during the study period. Deaths from liver disease were cut in half. Death rates from cancers not linked with AIDS remained stable.

Potassium May Cut Death Rates with Diuretics

Giving extra potassium to everyone taking "water pills" might help people with heart failure live longer, a study suggests. Loop diuretics are often given for heart failure, which can cause people to retain fluid. Loop diuretics remove fluid through urine. But this also removes the important mineral potassium. The new study looked at Medicaid and death records for people in 5 states. Researchers focused on 360,000 Medicaid patients who began taking loop diuretics (often called "water pills") in a 6-year period. About half of them were prescribed potassium pills at the same time they got their first diuretic prescription. They were compared with similar patients who did not get potassium pills. About 9% of those in the study died each year. But death rates were lower for those who received a prescription for potassium at the same time as the loop diuretic.

Harvard Reviews of Health News

Going to a top-performing public high school can reduce very risky health behaviors among low-income teens, a new study suggests. These behaviors include binge drinking, substance use at school, risky sex and joining a gang. The study included high school stu...

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