What’s New in Health Care Reform: Sept. 12

What's New in Health Care Reform provides an overview of the past week’s news, updates, and commentary in health care reform and utilization management.

Ken Burns Mayo Clinic Film Debuts in Rochester

People from across the country traveled to Rochester to be a part of a historic event Monday. Filmmaker Ken Burns held a premiere for his documentary, The Mayo Clinic: Faith, Hope Science. The documentary depicts the history of Mayo Clinic, how W. W. Mayo and his two sons paved the way for so many medical facilities across the world and how they partnered with the Sisters of St. Francis. Via KAAL.

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Doctors Explore Lifting Barriers to Living Organ Donation

People lucky enough to receive a kidney or part of a liver from a living donor not only cut years off their wait for a transplant, but those organs also tend to survive longer. Yet living donors make up a fraction of transplants, and their numbers have plateaued amid barriers that can block otherwise willing people from giving. Among them: varying hospital policies on who qualifies and the surprising financial costs that some donors bear. Now, researchers are exploring ways to lift those barriers and ease the nation’s organ shortage. Via AP.

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Infectious Theory of Alzheimer's Disease Draws Fresh Interest

Dr. Leslie Norins is willing to hand over $1 million of his own money to anyone who can clarify something: Is Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia worldwide, caused by a germ? By "germ," he means microbes like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. In other words, Dr. Norins, a physician turned publisher, wants to know if Alzheimer's is infectious. Via NPR.

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They’re More Than Relaxing. Research Shows Saunas Can Be Good for Your Health

The Mayo Clinic Proceedings recently published a paper titled, “Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence.” The researchers conclude: “Emerging evidence suggests that sauna bathing may be linked to several health benefits, which include reduction in the risk of vascular diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and neurocognitive diseases; nonvascular conditions such as pulmonary diseases; mortality; and amelioration of conditions such as arthritis, headache, and flu.” Via Washington Post.

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Rapid Tumor Growth Tied to Immunotherapy in Lung Cancer

Aaron Mansfield, M.D., of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told MedPage Today that the findings are consistent with his clinical experience and agreed that better predictors of which patients will or will not benefit from immunotherapy are needed. "PD-L1 and tumor mutational burden have their limitations," he said. This is the largest characterization of a NSCLC cohort that I am aware of," said Dr. Mansfield, who was not involved in the research. "Based on these data, HPD seems to be more common for a small subset of patients treated with immunotherapy." He pointed out that many questions still remain, including whether patients who experience HPD while on immunotherapy would do so with cytotoxic chemotherapy, and whether patients who receive frontline chemoimmunotherapy are also at risk of HPD. And Dr. Mansfield agreed with the study authors that a common definition of HPD is needed to move forward. Via MedPage Today.

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Crohn's Disease Patients Test Experimental Stem Cell Treatment

It's a painful, chronic, and for some, an untreatable condition. More than 700,000 Americans suffer from Crohn's disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation of the digestive tract that can lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition. Now, scientists in the UK have launched a new clinical study to test the use of a stem cell treatment for the inflammatory bowel disease. Study participants with Crohn's receive chemotherapy to wipe out their faulty immune system. Doctors then use a stem cell transplant and hormone treatments to grow a new one. Via CBS Health.

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Pertussis Vax at Birth May Offer Benefits at Age 3 Months

A dose of acellular pertussis vaccine at birth was associated with significantly higher pertussis antibody titers by 10 weeks, regardless of the mother's vaccination status, researchers found. A significantly higher portion of infants who received a single dose of the acellular pertussis (aP) vaccine plus the hepatitis B vaccine at birth developed detectable antibodies to both pertussis toxin (PT) and pertactin (PRN) compared with a control group, reported Nicholas Wood, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., of the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases in Westmead, Australia, and colleagues, in JAMA Pediatrics. Via MedPage Today.

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High Blood Pressure: Does Drinking Coffee Increase Your Risk of Hypertension?

According to Sheldon Sheps, M.D., at Mayo Clinic, caffeine can cause a short, “but dramatic” increase in blood pressure, even if you don’t have high blood pressure to begin with. “Some researchers believe caffeine could block a hormone that helps keep your arteries widened,” said Dr. Sheps. “Others think caffeine causes your adrenal glands to release more adrenaline, which causes your blood pressure to increase.” However, although some people who regularly drink caffeinated drinks have a higher average blood pressure than those who don’t, others who drink a lot of caffeinated drinks develop a tolerance to caffeine, according to the doctor. Via Express UK.

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Barrett’s Esophagus Tied to Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Survival

Patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma who displayed Barrett’s esophagus (BE) or intestinal metaplasia had better survival than patients without, according to research published in Gastroenterology. Tarek Sawas, M.D., of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues wrote that BE serves as a precursor lesion in many cases of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), but in patients without BE or intestinal metaplasia (IM), it has been assumed that the cancer overgrows or replaces the lesion. However, the researchers hypothesized that there could be evidence of two completely different forms of EAC. “There might be a group of patients with EAC without co-existing Barrett’s esophagus/IM (non-BE/IM) at the time of cancer diagnosis who have a more aggressive form of EAC which might lead to a poorer prognosis when compared to those with prevalent Barrett’s esophagus/IM (BE/IM),” they wrote. Via Healio.

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Photos: "An Evening with Ken Burns" Premiere Event and Block Party

People gathered for a drone light show put on by Firefly Drone Shows as part of "An Evening with Ken Burns" premiere event for his new documentary, "The Mayo Clinic: Faith-Hope-Science." The drone show was held Monday, September 10, 2018, outside the Mayo Civic Center in downtown Rochester. Via Post-Bulletin.

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Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.

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