Health Highlights: Dec. 19, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Black Box Warnings Removed From Chantix and Zyban

The anti-smoking drug Chantix no longer has to carry a bold-letter warning about possible psychiatric side effects, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The black box warning about the risks of side effects such as suicidal tendencies, hostility and depression was introduced in 2009, the Associated Press reported.

But the FDA announced Friday that the Pfizer drug no longer had to carry the agency’s most serious warning label. The decision was based on an 8,000-patient study of smokers that found no increased risk of psychiatric problems among Chantix users who had no previous history of mental illness.

Based on the same data, European regulators previously removed a similar warning from Chantix.

The FDA also announced Friday that a black box warning about possible psychiatric side effects is no longer required on Zyban, an anti-smoking drug marketed by GlaxoSmithKline PLC, the AP reported.

Information about psychosis, paranoia, anxiety and other problems will still have to be listed on the labels of Chantix and Zyban, just not within a black box warning.

“The risk of these mental health side effects is still present, especially in those currently being treated for mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, or schizophrenia, or who have been treated for mental illnesses in the past,” according to an FDA online post, the AP reported.


Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor Dies

Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor died Sunday in Los Angeles.

The Hungarian-born star, believed to be 99, died of heart failure, according to her publicist Edward Lozzi, The New York Times reported.

She had been in and out of hospital for year and was the last surviving Gabor sister, outliving Eva and Magda.

Zsa Zsa appeared in more than 60 feature films and television movies, as well as numerous television programs, The Times reported.


Dr. Henry Heimlich, Inventor of ‘Heimlich Maneuver’, Dies at 96

The Heimlich maneuver has been credited with saving an estimated 100,000 lives, and on Saturday the procedure’s inventor, Dr. Henry Heimlich, died at the age of 96, his family announced.

Heimlich had suffered a heart attack last Monday, and died at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, according to The New York Times.

Heimlich was born in 1920 in Wilmington, Del., and received his medical degree from Cornell Medical College in New York City in 1943. He developed the Heimlich maneuver — reaching around a choking victim from the back and thrusting up on the person’s abdomen to dislodge a throat obstruction — in the 1970s.

At the time, choking on food or foreign objects such as toys killed 4,000 people annually, the Times noted. The Heimlich maneuver was initially greeted with skepticism, but Heimlich reasoned that pushing upwards on the abdomen would force a reserve of air in the lungs to rush up through the windpipe and force any obstruction to pop out.

Real-life incidents — where everyday people saved nearby choking victims — proved the skeptics wrong. Soon the Heimlich maneuver became standard procedure nationwide.

Heimlich himself did not use his namesake maneuver to save a life until just this year, the Times reported. On May 23, he noticed an 87-year-old woman, Patty Ris, choking on a piece of food at the table she happened to be sharing with Heimlich at Duepree House, the senior residence where they both lived in Cincinnati.

“I could not breathe I was choking so hard,” Ris told the Times.

Heimlich rushed to act, performing the maneuver. “A piece of meat with a little bone attached flew out of her mouth,” he said.

Heimlich was professor of clinical sciences at Xavier University in Cincinnati and also president of the Heimlich Institute, which he set up to promote his ideas. According to the Times, he developed and held patents on many other medical devices and innovations, including methods of helping stroke victims re-learn to swallow, and mechanical devices used for chest surgery.

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