* Atherectomy a new technique for unclogging blocked heart vessels compares poorly with angioplasty, the technique it was intended to supersede. In a study of 1000 patients, the heart vessels of those having atherectomy were less blocked after treatment than those having angioplasty. Yet this apparent success is tempered by the fact that "the probability of death or [heart attack] within six months was higher in the atherectomy group (8.6 per cent vs 4.6 per cent)." New Eng J Med, 22 July 1993.
* The anti psychotic drug clozapine can cause a potentially fatal reduction in white blood cells. American researchers looked at 11,555 patients taking the drug and found that agranulocytosis low white cells developed in 73 patients. Of these 73, two patients died "from infectious complications". New Eng J Med, 15 July 1993.
* Up to a third of patients undergoing magnetic resonance imaging a diagnostic technique which produces pictures of soft body tissues suffer some anxiety related reaction to the process. In 4-30 per cent of cases, patients had "anxiety related reactions ranging from apprehension to claustrophobia or panic attacks". Some of these reactions were severe enough to "interfere with the performance of the test" JAMA, 11 August 1993.
* The growth in diesel cars may trigger an increase is asthma attacks, heart disease and cancer. Scientists are recording rapidly rising levels of microscopic soot particles in the air in towns and cities. Emissions of soot and oxides of nitrogen from diesel are 150 times higher than from petrol engines. Times 13 September 1993.