In Brief


December 15, 2008

VA plans to open more outpatient clinics in Md.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced plans to open new outpatient clinics in Fort Meade and Montgomery County.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake said the clinics are part of a plan to establish 31 new clinics in 16 states. Maryland's community-based outpatient clinics will become operational by 2010.

"Community-based medicine is better medicine," said Dr. Michael Kussman, the VA's Under Secretary for Health. "It makes preventive care easier for patients, helps doctors have closer relationships with their patients and permits easier follow-ups for people with chronic problems."

Women don't get needed heart attack treatment

Women hospitalized with heart attacks still don't get the treatment they need and are more likely to die than men if they suffer a massive heart attack, a new study of U.S. hospitals shows.

Overall, women survive heart attacks about as well as men when they are under a hospital's care. But the study found that a gender gap remains when women have the most serious type of heart attack. Women also get less of the recommended medicines and procedures than men, or it takes longer to get them.

"We're doing better but not good enough for women," said Dr. Hani Jneid, lead author of the study from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

The data came from 420 hospitals enrolled in an American Heart Association program to get doctors to follow guidelines for treating heart attack patients. Previous research suggested that women's heart attacks were treated less aggressively. The research was funded by the heart association, and the findings were reported last week in the group's medical journal, Circulation.

Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist who specializes in women's care, said the study suggests that women's heart attack symptoms still are not being taken seriously. Some women don't have typical symptoms such as chest pains, she said, but may have pain lower in their bodies or severe shortness of breath.

"This really continues to be very disappointing," said Goldberg, who is director of the Women's Heart Center at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. "I think my colleagues need to get on the stick."

Associated Press

Gene may lead some to choose high-calorie foods

Scientists may have figured out one reason some people reach for french fries instead of an apple. It could be a gene that's been linked to an increased risk of obesity.

A study of children found those with a common variation of the gene tend to overeat high-calorie foods. They ate 100 extra calories per meal, which over the long term can put on weight, said Colin Palmer, who led the study at the University of Dundee in Scotland.

The findings don't mean that everyone with that version of the gene will eat too much and become obese, he said. They just might have a tendency to eat more fattening foods. "It's still your choice," he said. "This gene will not make you overweight if you do not overeat."

Palmer said the results support the theory that childhood obesity today could be connected to the widespread availability and low cost of high-calorie foods. The research is published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Associated Press

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