Minnesota again top state in national health ranking
Minnesota is the nation's healthiest state, while Louisiana is the least healthy, a ranking it has held for 14 of the last 15 years of a national survey, officials said.
The annual report sponsored by the United Health Foundation weighs such factors as health insurance coverage, heart disease rates, total and infant mortality rates, the rate of motor vehicle deaths, high school graduation rates, childhood poverty and public health spending.
Since the rankings began in 1990, Minnesota has finished first nine out of 15 times, and never sunk lower than No. 2. Last year, it tied for first with New Hampshire.
This year New Hampshire came in second and Vermont third. Finishing at the bottom were Tennessee, Mississippi and, in last place, Louisiana.
The nation's health showed improvement in the 1990s, with better public health spending and public education, and decreases in smoking, cardiovascular deaths and violent crime. But there has been little improvement nationwide since 2000 -- primarily because of the spike in obesity rates. Since 1990, the number of obese adults has almost doubled, to 22 percent.
New heart failure drug to be marketed to blacks
A two-drug combination pill dramatically reduced deaths among blacks with heart failure, a landmark finding that is expected to lead to government approval of the first medication marketed for a specific race.
Black cardiologists hailed this form of racial profiling after years in which minorities got short shrift in medical studies. Others complained that the drug also might help whites and should have been tested in them, but wasn't for business reasons.
The nationwide study is the largest ever done solely on blacks with heart failure. The findings were reported Monday at an American Heart Assn. meeting in New Orleans and will be published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The drug's maker plans to seek Food and Drug Administration approval by the end of the year.
Heart failure affects 5 million Americans, but blacks are 2 1/2 times more likely to develop it. It happens when the heart is too weak to pump effectively, causing fluid to back up in the lungs and leaving people weak and short of breath. Half die within five years of diagnosis.
Earlier research suggested that standard heart failure drugs called ACE inhibitors do not work as well in blacks, and that blacks may have lower amounts of nitric oxide, which plays many roles in heart health, in their blood.