Health Highlights: April 24, 2012

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

Meds Helping Many Overweight Americans Control Cholesterol: Study

Despite the fact that two-thirds of American adults are overweight, only 13 percent have high total cholesterol, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Tuesday.

Experts suggest this discrepancy is largely due to the fact that so many American adults take cholesterol-lowering drugs, the Associated Press reported.

The CDC findings are from interviews and blood tests of about 6,000 adults in 2009 and 2010.

A federal government goal of having no more than 17 percent of adults with high total cholesterol was achieved more than 10 years ago for men and about five years ago for women, the AP reported.

Too much cholesterol -- a fat-like substance in the blood -- increases the risk of heart disease.


Medicare Stable, Trustees Report Finds

Medicare is stable but requires strengthening, according to U.S. Medicare Trustees report released Monday.

It said that Hospital Insurance Trust Fund expenditures in 2011 were lower than expected and that the fund should remain solvent until 2024, but action is needed to ensure it's long-term viability.

Without the Affordable Care Act, the Hospital Trust fund would expire in 2016. The Act provides tools to control costs over the long run, such as changing the way Medicare pays providers to reward them for efficient, quality care.

Because many of the Act's efforts to reform healthcare delivery are just launching, they were not factored into the report's projections, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

"The Trustees Report tells us that while Medicare is stable for now, we have a lot of work ahead of us to guarantee its future," acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a CMS news release.


New Technology Developed to Help Older Drivers

New technology meant to help older drivers is being developed by a team at Newcastle University in the U.K.

They've turned an electric car into a mobile testing laboratory that includes navigation aids, night vision systems and intelligent speed adaptations. For example, there is technology that uses glasses to monitor drivers' concentration, stress levels and driving habits, BBC News reported.

Many older people stop driving due to slower reaction times and other issues. But doing so can cause them to become more isolated and inactive.

"For many older people, particularly those living alone or in rural areas, driving is essential for maintaining their independence, giving them the freedom to get out and about without having to rely on others," said Phil Blythe, professor of intelligent transport systems, BBC News reported.


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