Health Highlights: March 24, 2011

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

Most Americans Say They’re in Good Health: Report

Rates of obesity and diabetes are rising and it’s harder to afford health insurance, but 90 percent of Americans rate their health as good or better, according to a federal government report based on a national survey that looked at 15 health indicators.

Rates of obesity and diabetes were 28.2 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively, in 2010, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics, said ABC News.

The report also said that the percentage of Americans who can’t afford health insurance increased from 4.5 percent in 1997 to 7 percent in 2010.

The proportion of people who rated their health as very good or excellent decreased from 69 percent in 1997 to 66 percent in 2010, ABC News reported.


Common Regrets Include Romance and Work: Study

Romance and work appear to be among the leading regrets American adults have about their lives, suggests a new study.

The telephone survey of 370 adults found that women have more regrets about romance then men (44 percent vs. 19 percent), while men have more regrets about work than women (34 percent vs. 27 percent), the Chicago Tribune reported.

The researchers at Northwest University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne also found that: people who were not currently in a relationship were most likely to have romance regrets; people with low levels of education regretted their lack of education; and people with high levels of education had the most career-related regrets.

The study appears in an upcoming issue of the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science.


Colon Cancer Screening Rates Rise for Some Americans

Colorectal cancer screening rates for whites, blacks and Asian-Americans age 50 and older improved between 2000 and 2008, barely rose for Hispanics, and fell for American Indians and Alaska Natives, says a U.S. government study.

In 2008, about 60 percent of whites and 55 percent of blacks age 50 and older said they had undergone at least one colorectal cancer screening, compared with 51 percent and 44 percent, respectively, in 2000. The rates for Asian-Americans in 2000 and 2008 were about the same as those for blacks, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The proportion of Hispanics who reported every being screened for colorectal cancer increased from 35 percent to about 44 percent, while rates fell from 49 percent to 37 percent among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The study also said that colorectal cancer screening rates increased from about 26 percent to about 30 percent among whites and blacks with no health insurance. But rates fell from 16 percent to 13 percent among Hispanics without health insurance.


New Blood Test Improves Diagnosis of Heart Attack

A new blood test improves the ability to diagnose heart attacks that may otherwise go undetected.

The test measures a protein called troponin that’s released when heart cells are damaged during a heart attack, BBC News reported.

In their study of more than 2,000 patients with suspected heart attack, U.K. researchers found that the test could detect troponin at levels four times lower than the standard blood test.

As a result, one-third more patients were diagnosed with heart attack, which halved their risk of dying of a heart attack within a year, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.