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5 Possible Advancements in Health and Medicine to Watch Out for in 2011

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Wellness related image Photo: Getty Images

This week, many of us are back to the grind after a nice holiday break. The year 2010 saw some interesting steps forward in the fields of health and medicine, including passing health care reform into law. Looking forward in 2011, here are some advancements to keep an eye out for based on predictions made by experts in a MyHealthNewsDaily article found on Yahoo.com (a brief description of each follows):

1. Results of a promising HIV vaccine may be announced--An American man with HIV and acute myeloid leukemia (blood cancer) received a bone marrow transplant to treat his cancer a few years ago. The donor luckily had a natural resistance to HIV (labeled Delta 32). The man receiving the bone marrow transplant is not showing any signs of HIV three years later. Repeating this case is a long shot for most patients with HIV, but a doctor quoted stated that it is interesting. There also is hope for a new HIV vaccine coming out of a 2009 study conducted in Thailand. According to the article, findings could be used as a road map to help guide future research.

2. Freezing heart tissue may become a new tool in treating atrial fibrillation-- A new procedure for treating a heart condition that causes irregular heartbeats--the upper chambers quiver instead of beat (American Heart Association)--this uses something called a cardiac cryoablation catheter to freeze sections of the heart tissue. This freezing creates scar tissue to block the irregular signals causing the condition.

3. New recommendations may allow more people to get lap-band surgery for obesity--This treatment for obesity is controversial, and has been typically restricted to patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or those with a BMI of 35 and diabetes. New recommendations from the United States Food and Drug Administration may allow people with a BMI over 30 to obtain the surgery.

4. School lunches may become healthier--The new Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act takes effect in 2011, allowing higher school reimbursement for school lunches, and offering a challenge to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create nutrition standards for food sold in vending machines in schools.

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