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Heart disease among minority women and when clinicians rely on a hunch: In health news today

Clinicians who guess whether their patients have an alcohol problem, as opposed to asking a set of screening questions, may be missing up to 75 percent of potential cases, said a new study.
Clinicians who guess whether their patients have an alcohol problem, as opposed to asking a set of screening questions, may be missing up to 75 percent of potential cases, said a new study.
Jonathan Cohen/Flickr Creative Commons

Minority women are 66 percent less likely than their white counterparts to be aware of the risks and symptoms of heart disease, says a new study, and even when they are aware, they're less likely to try to do anything about it. ABCNews.com says minority women tend to have high rates of "almost" risk factors: blood pressure that isn't quite high; blood sugar that isn't quite diabetic – but both of those things can still hurt the heart.

Experts say the morning-after pill helps prevent pregnancy after sex by hindering ovulation or making it more difficult for sperm to move to an egg. According to the New York Times, use of the morning-after pill is on the rise: In 2002, 7 percent of women used the pill, compared to the period between 2006 and 2010, when 11 percent of women reported using it. The increase in popularity is driven largely by women in their early twenties.

New federal data shows that there is an "ongoing, severe [sexually transmitted infection] epidemic" in the U.S., reports NBCNews.com. Among the findings of the two studies: In 2008, there were 20 million new infections, bringing the overall total to 110 million – all of which incurred about $16 billion in medical costs.

Should you exercise for a short time but go hard, or stretch it out for a long time at low intensity levels? A new study appearing in PLOS ONE says the latter may have more health benefits, including improving insulin sensitivity and levels of fat in the blood.

Places where billboards and other outdoor advertisements promote the glory of fast food may be more likely to have a high obesity rate, says new research. HealthDay said the authors of the study noted the ads don't cause weight gain, but did seem to be linked to a "modest but clinically meaningful" increase in the likelihood that area;s residents would be obese.

Fifty-three percent of Californians say they'd oppose a tax on sugar-sweetned beverages, says New America Media, but 68 percent would support it if proceeds from that soda tax are funneled into programs designed to improve school nutrition and physical activity. The survey indicated that obesity prevention measures have greater support among ethnic voters.

A report from the Institute of Medicine says the U.S. will need a national drug tracking system in order to effectively combat the problem of fake or counterfeit medications, said USA Today. The agency called it a global problem, and said putting drugs through a process where every step of its making is authenticated – from the manufacturing of the active ingredients all the way to the pharmacy – could help resolve the problem.

Standardized costs and benefits for California's future health insurance marketplace were revealed on Wednesday, reported KPCC. When the marketplace, or exchange, kicks in on the first day of next year, low-income Californians who participate will pay a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $6,000 a year for individuals, or $12,000 for families.

Six percent of children in the hospital were admitted because of human metapneumovirus (HMPV), and 7 percent of pediatric emergency room visits were for the same reasons, said HealthDay. HMPV is very new – it was only discovered 12 years ago, and is worse among the very young and the very old. It's no more dangerous than the flu or respiratory syncytial virus, reassured one doctor.

Imagine that: A study in the Annals of Family Medicine says when clinicians guess as to whether their patients have an alcohol problem – as opposed to asking a few set screening questions – they may be missing up to 75 percent of potential cases.

And finally: Any high school students looking to improve their GPA, take heed of a recent study detailed in the Los Angeles Times: Students who are friends with those who rank high academically tend to do better with their own schoolwork.

Photo by Jonathan Cohen via Flickr Creative Commons.