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Cutting salt cuts heart disease risk

Reducing dietary salt intake by as little as half a teaspoon a day could significantly cut cardiovascular disease risks and health care costs, according to a study published Jan. 20 online in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers used the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model to quantify the benefits of reducing dietary salt intake by as much as 3 g per day. The population-based model is a computer simulation of heart disease in adults ages 35 and older in the United States. The data projected that cutting salt by 3 g each day would lower the annual number of new coronary heart disease cases by approximately 60,000, stroke by 32,000 and myocardial infarction by 54,000. Financially, researchers estimate that the nation would save $10 billion to $24 billion each year in health care costs ( "All those things together suggest it's a good idea to [advance] the efforts currently under way [to reduce dietary salt intake ...

Darker skin not immune to melanoma

The authors of a new study are urging physicians to counsel dark- and light-skinned patients on the need for protection from the sun and to perform skin checks on all patients. Although blacks and Hispanics are less likely than whites to be diagnosed with melanoma, it is not unheard of, according to a study in the December 2009 Archives of Dermatology ( And the diagnosis frequently is made at a more advanced -- and less curable -- stage among minority patients than it is for whites, said senior author Robert Kirsner, MD, PhD, professor and vice chair of dermatology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida. "We looked at three different 5-year periods, and while whites' diagnoses improved, blacks' and Hispanics' did not," Dr. Kirsner said. Melanoma is among the top 10 new cancer diagnoses for men and women in the nation, the researchers said. Melanoma incidence has increased 2.4% annually in the las ...

New system warns health professionals of medication errors

With the December 2009 launch of a new national e-mail alert system for medication errors, health care professionals nationwide will get quick notice when a deadly or potentially deadly error has occurred. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists teamed up and developed the National Alert Network for Serious Medication Errors. Initially, alerts will go to the 35,000 pharmacists and other health care professionals in the ASHP network and ISMP's newsletter network, which reaches representatives in every U.S. hospital. But the goal is to extend the effort with the help of more national organizations, said Mike Cohen, CEO of ISMP. The alerts will include a description of the error and recommendations to prevent the same type of mistake. They will be sent only for the most dangerous types of medication errors, possibly fewer than 10 times a year, Cohen said. ISMP officials will determine whether to send an alert. He gave a ...