Vital Signs newsletter: Top health stories this week

The death on Sunday of film star Philip Seymour Hoffman from an apparent drug overdose has reverberated around the nation and the globe, casting fresh light on the scourge of drug addiction. Here in Maine, where heroin overdose deaths are on the rise, lawmakers are considering wider distribution of a medication that brings drug abusers who overdose back from the brink of death.

Maine weighs wider use of drug that prevents overdose deaths

Other top health stories this week:

CVS to become first major US drugstore chain to drop cigarettes

CVS Caremark Corp. said on Wednesday that it would stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 stores by October, becoming the first national drugstore chain in the United States to take cigarettes off the shelf. Keep an eye on for local reaction to this story later today from BDN Portland Bureau Chief Seth Koenig.

Maine bill aims to protect doctor-patient relationships, keep insurance companies from ‘practicing medicine’

A bill before the Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Affairs Committee is designed to protect health insurance consumers by requiring more up-front disclosure on whether a new plan will cover a patient’s current doctor and medical facilities. The bill aims to make sure consumers and health care providers understand which hospitals and doctors are included in an insurance plan and why.

Cyberattacks seen most frequently in health care

Target’s recent data breach has triggered debates in Congress about whether consumers’ data is being properly protected. But despite its security flaws, the retail sector isn’t the industry most vulnerable to breaches. That dubious honor goes to health care.

Women’s heart attack symptoms often overlooked or misdiagnosed

Many people are familiar with the signs of a heart attack in men, including pain down the arm and severe chest pain. A woman’s symptoms of a heart attack, however, are often nebulous and can be misdiagnosed.

Program shift means Portland will lay off nurses, in-home visits will change

The city and a local nonprofit are working toward as smooth a transition as possible as administration of a popular parenting program changes hands. But despite those efforts, nurses employed by the city will be laid off and some parents, who have become accustomed to regular in-home visits by medical specialists, will no longer receive check-ins from visiting nurses.

From our bloggers

Jim LaPierre, Recovery Rocks

Naloxone, LD1686, and Common Sense Life Saving Solutions

Expanding use of this medication is a common sense measure that will reduce deaths in our state.

Pattie Reaves, After the Couch

The single best advice I ever received when I was trying to lose weight

It was so simple, I didn’t think that it would just work.  But when I finally took it to heart, that was when I started making progress. Progress I could maintain.

From the source

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Maine CDC released updated flu numbers on Tuesday. So far this season, lab tests have confirmed 951 cases in the state, with Penobscot County hit hardest. The flu is designated as widespread in Maine. A nursery school in Westbrook closed Wednesday due to a flu outbreak.

Jackie Farwell

About Jackie Farwell

I'm the health editor for the Bangor Daily News, a Bangor native, a UMaine grad, and a weekend crossword warrior. I never get sick of writing about Maine people, geeking out over health care data, and finding new ways to help you stay well. I live in Gorham with my husband Nick and our hound dog Riley.