Your Health

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Good News
MEDICAL MISTAKES Previous estimates that blamed hospital errors for up to 98,000 unnecessary deaths a year may have been wildly overstated. A new review of hospital deaths suggests that no more than 15,000 patients would have lived, had optimal care been provided.

SKIN SAVER An experimental drug called alefacept seems to clear up many of the stubborn red patches and scaly-skin problems that plague psoriasis sufferers. Unlike standard treatment, which depresses the entire immune system, alefacept is designed to target only the renegade cells believed responsible for the disease.

Bad News
PASSIVE PUNISHMENT Just 30 minutes of secondhand tobacco smoke is enough to reduce blood flow to the hearts of nonsmokers. Test subjects who puffed at least 20 cigarettes a day appeared unaffected.

HORMONES AND THE HEART The American Heart Association says women should not be prescribed hormone-replacement therapy solely to prevent a second heart attack. Indeed, evidence to date suggests that the risk of heart attack may increase in the first year of therapy.

Sources--Good News: Journal of the AMA (7/25/01), New England Journal of Medicine (7/26/01); Bad News: JAMA (7/25/01) Circulation (7/24/01)