Health Highlights: Oct. 9, 2017
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Trump Administration Cans Clean Power Plan
In a move that will most likely turn back the clock on efforts to curb climate change, the Trump administration announced Monday that it will repeal President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan.
Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said at an event in Kentucky that his predecessors had departed from regulatory norms in crafting the plan, The New York Times reported. Finalized in 2015, the plan pushed states to move away from coal in favor of sources of electricity that produce fewer carbon, or greenhouse gas, emissions.
"The war on coal is over," Pruitt said. "Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., I will be signing a proposed rule to roll back the Clean Power Plan."
The repeal fulfills a promise President Donald Trump made to eradicate his predecessor's environmental legacy. It also means the United States will be even less able to make good on its promise as part of the Paris climate agreement to cut back on emissions that are warming the planet and contributing to heat waves and rising sea levels, the newspaper said.
A leaked draft of the repeal proposal claims that $33 billion would be saved by not complying with the plan, the Times reported. It also discounts the health benefits the plan had calculated would come from cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
While many states are already shifting away from coal power for economic reasons, experts say scrapping the plan could slow that changeover, the newspaper said.
Environmental groups and several states plan to challenge the repeal proposal, the Times reported, while industry groups cheered the announcement.
However, those same industry groups have also said they would prefer the Clean Power Plan be replaced with a new, more modest regulation on power plants, to blunt any court challenges. "The EPA is still required to regulate greenhouse gas emissions because of a 2009 legal opinion known as the endangerment finding," the newspaper explained.
FDA OKs Implanted Device Against a Form of Sleep Apnea
A new implantable treatment for moderate to severe central sleep apnea was approved Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The battery-operated device, known as the Remede System, is implanted under the skin in the chest to stimulate a nerve that promotes breathing.
Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the diaphragm to breathe during sleep, the FDA explained. It's seen most often in elderly patients and those with heart failure.
The condition is different from the more common obstructive sleep apnea, in which breathing disruptions are caused by upper airway obstruction.
"Patients should speak with their health care providers about the benefits and risks of this new treatment compared to other available treatments," said Tina Kiang, of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health. "This implantable device offers patients another treatment option for central sleep apnea," she said in an FDA news release.
Central sleep apnea can lead to daytime fatigue and an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, obesity, and diabetes.
The device is made by Minnesota-based Respicardia Inc. It's not intended for patients with obstructive sleep apnea, the agency said.
A study involving more than 140 patients found half who used the Remede System experienced a 50 percent or more reduction in the frequency and severity of apnea episodes. That degree of improvement was seen in only 11 percent on patients without the implant, the FDA said.
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