Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Combo High Blood Pressure Pill Beats Single Drug: Study
Using two drugs to treat high blood pressure is more effective than a single drug, according to a new study.
Researchers followed 1,254 patients with high blood pressure in 10 countries who received a single drug (either aliskiren or amlodipine) or a combination of the two drugs, BBC News reported.
The patients who took the combination of drugs had a 25 percent better response over six months and had fewer side effects than those who took a single drug.
The study, published n The Lancet, was funded by Novartis, which makes amlodipine and aliskiren.
"This study adds significantly to the evidence that starting treatment for patients with high blood pressure with two medicines rather than one is safe, and more effective than waiting to add the second medicine later," Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, told BBC News.
The combination pill was approved last year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
EPA Issues Recommendations for Chromium-6 in Tap Water
New recommendations for monitoring levels of the potentially cancer-causing chemical chromium-6 in drinking water have been released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The move comes several weeks after the Environmental Working Group said it found the chemical in the tap water of 31 of 35 cities from which samples were collected and tested, ABC News reported.
Under current EPA rules, water systems only need to test for the presence of total chromium, which includes chromium-6. The updated EPA recommendations call for collection and sampling at more points throughout water distribution systems and more frequent testing.
"As we continue to learn more about the potential risks of exposure to chromium-6, we will work closely with states and local officials to ensure the safety of America's drinking water supply," said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, ABC News reported.
WHO Targets Drug-Resistant Malaria
A global plan to fight drug-resistant malaria was launched Wednesday by the World Health Organization.
It said failure to combat the spread of resistance to artemisinin -- a key component of new malaria drugs -- would be "catastrophic," Agence France-Presse reported.
Drug-resistant malaria has appeared in areas on the Cambodia-Thailand border and may have spread to other areas in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. More than $175 million will be required for research and to contain resistance is these regions, the WHO said.
It also called for increased surveillance of drug resistant malaria, noting that in 2010 only 31 of 75 countries routinely conducted tests on the effectiveness of malaria drugs, AFP reported.
"The emergence of artemisinin resistance has been a wake-up call. It gives us another compelling reason to step up existing control measures with the greatest sense of urgency," said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.
Twenty Percent of Americans Don't Have Usual Source of Health Care
One in five Americans, about 60 million people, do not have a doctor or other usual source of health care, says a federal government report released Wednesday.
The main reasons cited by people for not having a usual source of care was that they seldom or ever got sick (two-thirds) and the high cost of care (14 percent), according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The analysis of 2007 data also found that 29 percent of people with no health insurance said the high cost of health care was their main reason for not having a usual source of care, compared to 16 percent of those with public insurance and four percent of those with private insurance.
About 67 percent of people with private insurance said they had no usual source of care because they never got sick, compared with 59 percent of those without insurance and 53 percent of those with public insurance.
Among the other findings about reasons for not having a usual source of care:
- Blacks were most likely to say they seldom or never got sick (69 percent), compared with Hispanics (62 percent), whites (61 percent) and Asians (58 percent).
- Hispanics were more likely to cite high cost as the main reason (22 percent), compared to 12 percent of other racial/ethnic groups.
- Asians were most likely to say they didn't like or trust doctors (12 percent) than other groups as a whole (4 percent).
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