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Transfusions unnecessary?

Countless blood transfusions performed in the United States each year may be unnecessary, new research suggests. That's based on statistics showing that blood transfusion rates in heart surgery patients vary considerably among hospitals nationwide, while death rates at those centers do not.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, included roughly 102,000 patients who underwent coronary artery bypass surgery at 789 U.S. sites in 2008. After examining three common transfusion types -- red blood cell, fresh-frozen plasma and platelet -- researchers found "significant variability" among their use.

"The absence of differences in mortality among centers with varying transfusion rates strongly suggests inappropriate transfusions," wrote the authors of an accompanying editorial. The decision over whether to perform a transfusion during bypass surgery is often complex and dependent on certain circumstances like the amount of blood loss, making rigid rules about when to transfuse difficult to determine. Still, improvement on this front is "critically important," the researchers concluded.

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Keep drinking your water

Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner may be just the backstop your willpower needs to help you shed pounds permanently in 2011, according to a recent study published in Obesity. Researchers instructed two groups of overweight or obese men and women to follow a low-calorie diet, asking one group to also drink two cups of water before meals. After 12 weeks, the water drinkers had lost an average of 15 1/2 pounds, compared with 11 pounds for the control group. Those who continued the habit for a year lost an additional 1 1/2 pounds on average.

"I would never promote this as a get-slim-quick scheme," says senior study author Brenda Davy, an associate professor in the department of human nutrition, foods, and exercise at Virginia Tech University, who notes that the practice slows the emptying of the stomach. "This is simply an additional strategy that could help people manage their hunger."

The study examined the effect only on middle-age and older adults, but Liwei Chen, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Louisiana State University Health Science Center School of Public Health, thinks it's a smart strategy for everybody, particularly if it causes them to cut back on soda. American adults average 28 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverages per day, says Chen, who led a study published in May that found even a small reduction in sugar intake significantly lowered blood pressure. "Aim to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages altogether," she advises. That way, you battle two risk factors at once.

Compiled from News wire sources

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