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News Briefs, part 1

New Heart Attack Test May Speed Treatment, Save Billions

Los Angeles Times

An inexpensive new blood test developed by Texas researchers could improve the treatment of heart attacks and save as much as $4 billion in medical costs each year by quickly identifying which patients who show up at emergency rooms with symptoms are actually having an attack.

The test, which is already available to hospitals, could speed the treatment of heart attack patients and reduce the use of potentially hazardous clot-busting drugs on patients who have symptoms but turn out not to be in the midst of an attack.

Currently, only 10 percent of the 5 million patients who enter emergency rooms each year with symptoms are having a heart attack. Nonetheless, a majority of them are admitted to expensive intensive care units as a precautionary measure. Determining whether they are having an attack can require 12 to 24 hours, by which time the damage from the attack is complete.

In contrast, the new test, developed at Baylor College of Medicine, can identify victims in less than two hours, offering opportunity to minimize permanent damage to heart tissues, the team reports Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The new test developed by Robert Roberts and his colleagues at Baylor can detect an unusual form of CK-MB produced in heart attacks at the extremely low concentrations present shortly after a heart attack. The test is currently manufactured by Helena Laboratories Inc. of Beaumont, Texas, and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for monitoring the progress of heart-attack victims.

U.S. Reasserts Determination To Restore Democracy to Haiti

Los Angeles Times

The Clinton administration, in its most strident rhetoric so far, said Wednesday that it will use the military unit it is assembling to restore exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in Haiti, either to keep order after a peaceful transition or to defeat and depose the island's dictatorial government.

By declaring the U.S. government's determination to restore democracy to Haiti no matter what it takes, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and Deputy Defense Secretary John M. Deutch'61 seemed to cut away much of the administration's room to maneuver, leaving it with no graceful way to avoid an invasion unless Haiti's military government, headed by Lt. Gen. Raul Cedras, steps down soon.

"The multinational force is going to Haiti," Deutch said in reference to a U.S.-dominated army that is training at the Roosevelt Rhodes naval base in Puerto Rico. "The (only) issue is the circumstance under which that force enters Haiti.

In any case, Deutch said, the Pentagon expects to resolve the matter soon. Although he did not set a deadline, he said that one or two weeks of training will be enough to prepare an invasion force after all the elements of that force are assembled.

Talbott said the United States continues to prefer a peaceful end to the crisis in which Cedras and his supporters agree to surrender control to Aristide, the winner of Haiti's only internationally certified free and fair presidential election. But he gave no indication that Washington expects such an outcome.

Vatican Attacks Planned U.N. Population Conference

Los Angeles Times

Fighting from a script written by Pope John Paul II, the Vatican on Wednesday fired a new broadside against a planned U.N. population conference, attacking the United States in general and Vice President Al Gore in particular.

Members of a 17-member Vatican delegation leave Thursday for Cairo, Egypt, carrying papal instructions to unflaggingly oppose a draft resolution for the Sept. 5-13 conference that endorses abortion on demand and takes a liberal view of human sexuality.

Supported by the United States, other governments and feminist groups around the world, such proposals are, nevertheless, seen by Pope John Paul as a blatant assault on the sanctity of life, which he says begins at the instant of conception.

On Wednesday, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro, himself a member of the high-level delegation, took issue with Gore, who will head the U.S. delegation and has said that the United States does not seek to proclaim a universal right to abortion.

"The draft of the document, which has the U.S. administration as its principal sponsor, in reality contradicts Mr. Gore," Navarro told reporters at a Vatican briefing. The Clinton administration would allow U.S. funds to flow to international groups that support abortion, reversing the policy of Republican predecessors.