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Birth control shortages and mummy hearts: In health news today

Health And Human Services Dept. Approves Free Birth Control For Women

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Prescription contraceptives for women sit on the counter of a drug store in Los Angeles. An estimated 233 million women worldwide will lack access to birth control in 2015.

In today's health news:

More than 63 percent of married women worldwide use contraception, says a new study in the Lancet, which marks an 8-percent increase from 1990. The global unmet need for birth control shrank from 15 percent in 1990 to 12 percent in 2010, said researchers, but because of population growth and a growing awareness of family planning, an estimated 233 million women around the world will have an unmet need for contraception by 2015.

Children who are seriously ill may have a higher risk of dying if they're obese, says a new study, which cautions that the findings are "suggestive" and not conclusive. HealthDay says while the authors don't yet feel confident enough to say whether obesity can cause higher mortality, any evidence that that's true could have major implications.

Also from HealthDay: Another study adds to growing evidence that sugar-sweetened drinks aren't good for you. Researchers found that young people who drank the sugary stuff consumed more calories overall than their peers, and those calories tended to take the form of junk food. The sugary drinks also seemed to be the primary reason for the increased calorie consumption.

If you're tired and have plenty of food lying around – well, that's not good. CBSNews.com reports on new research which shows that people who slept no more than five hours a night during the workweek and had "unlimited" access to food gained two pounds in just two weeks. People who aren't getting sufficient sleep "eat during their biological nighttime," said the lead author, a time when the body isn't meant to eat.

Federal regulators are warning patients that taking the antibiotic azithromycin, known as Zithromax, can cause a deadly irregular heart rhythm in some patients. Reuters says the Food and Drug Administration has told doctors to be wary of prescribing the drug to any patients who are known to have the irregular heart rhythm or who might be at risk for developing it.

A blood test could be the key to preventing heart failure, say researchers – and it's one that could take place right in the office of a primary care provider. HealthDay says the blood test, along with an echocardiogram and coordination between primary care doctors and cardiologists, could help providers pinpoint at-risk patients and get them in a prevention regimen.

In research to be grateful for: The Los Angeles Times reports on a new British survey of more than 7,000 doctors that indicates the likelihood of waking up during surgery and realizing what's happening is very, very small.

And finally: Clogged arteries are nothing new. In fact, reports the BBC, they're downright ancient, seeing as how researchers who scanned the hearts of mummies, which were up to 4,000 years old, found evidence of atherosclerosis in more than 30 percent of them.

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