Health Highlights: May 5, 2011

Death Risk High for Grounds Maintenance Workers: StudyEU Approves Viagra-Like Drug to Treat Children With Deadly Lung ConditionHigh Number of Measles Cases in U.S.Millions of Americans Seek Hospital Help for HeadachesJuggling Numerous Tasks Affects Concentration, Self-Control: StudyFDA Announces New Food Safety Rules

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Death Risk High for Grounds Maintenance Workers: Study

Grounds maintenance workers in the United States have a high risk of dying on the job, a new study says.

It found that 1,142 grounds maintenance workers died from job-related injuries between 2003 and 2008. During that time, grounds maintenance workers accounted for one in every 30 worker deaths from traumatic injuries.

Causes of death included transportation incidents, tree work, falls, electrocutions and drowning.

Hispanics make up much of the grounds maintenance workforce in the U.S. but deaths among Hispanics were not disproportionately higher than among non-Hispanics. However, Hispanic workers who died were an average of nine years young than non-Hispanic workers who died. Five out of every six Hispanic workers who died were born outside the U.S.

Enforcement of regulations and training can reduce deaths among grounds maintenance workers, said the authors of the study in the latest issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


EU Approves Viagra-Like Drug to Treat Children With Deadly Lung Condition

A drug that contains the same medicine (sildenafil) as Viagra has been approved by the European commission to treat children with a deadly lung condition called pulmonary arterial hypertension (high blood pressure in lung arteries).

Revatio, which was approved in Europe six years ago to treat adults with the lung condition, can now be given to children ages 1 to 17, the Associated Press reported.

The new approval was based on a study of 234 children with pulmonary arterial hypertension that found Revatio lowered blood pressure in lung arteries and improved breathing and functioning. Side effects included fever, cough, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and extreme light sensitivity.

Revatio is approved for adults in more than 50 countries, including the United States. Drug maker Pfizer plans to seek approval for the drug in numerous countries, the AP reported.


High Number of Measles Cases in U.S.

This could be the worst year for measles in the United States in more than a decade.

Normally, there are about 50 cases of measles a year in the U.S., but there have been 89 cases reported so far. Nearly all the cases were caused by people bringing measles from other countries, the Associated Press reported.

Europe is a major hot spot, with more than 6,500 measles cases reported in 33 nations. Travelers everywhere are being urged by health officials to get the recommended two doses of measles vaccine before they travel overseas.

"The risk of getting infection is very high," Dr. Cuauhtemoc Ruiz Matus, an immunization expert with the Pan American Health Organization, told the AP.

In the last decade, the worst year for measles in the U.S. was 2008, when there were 140 reported cases.


Millions of Americans Seek Hospital Help for Headaches

Headaches sent more than 3 million Americans to hospital emergency rooms in 2008, and about 81,000 were admitted to hospital, says a federal government report released Wednesday.

It also said that one-third of those emergency visits and two-thirds of the hospital stays were for migraines, and that women accounted for nearly 3 out of 4 emergency visits and hospital stays.

Migraines were about 4 times more common among women than men, and emergency room visits for headaches were 2.3 times more common for low-income people than those with high incomes (1,300 vs. 565 visits per 100,000 people), according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The report also said that rural Americans were more likely than urban dwellers to make emergency department visits for a headache (1,425 vs. 896 visits per 100,000 people), and that such visits were most likely among people ages 18 to 44 and least likely among those 18 and younger (1,626 vs. 345 visits per 100,000 people).


Juggling Numerous Tasks Affects Concentration, Self-Control: Study

Repeatedly changing your mental focus to deal with different tasks at work can lead to reduced concentration and self-control in other areas of your life, according to a new study.

For example, it may be more difficult to stick to a diet or exercise program or to control your temper, said Ryan Hamilton, an assistant professor of marketing at Emory University in Atlanta, USA Today reported.

The findings come from a series of experiments involving 300 participants. The study appears in the May issue of the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

"If you are checking your Blackberry while helping your kids do their homework, you are switching tasks that require different perspectives," Hamilton says. "That can be taxing on the executive function of your brain and reduce your ability to use self-control in other areas of your life," Hamilton explained, USA Today reported.


FDA Announces New Food Safety Rules

Two new rules designed to strengthen food safety and security in the United States were announced Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration.

The first rule allows the FDA to prevent potentially unsafe food from being sold. The agency will be able to detain food products it believes has been produced under unsanitary or unsafe conditions, and food products it believes are misbranded or adulterated.

Under the second new rule, anyone importing food products into the U.S. must inform the FDA if those products have been refused entry into another country. This includes food for animals.

The new rules, which take effect July 3, 2011, are the first to be issued under the new powers given to the agency by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in January.


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