Week in Review: Dec. 7


The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

The Secret to Good Health May Be a Walk in the Park

In Minneapolis-St. Paul, the nation’s healthiest urban region, almost everyone lives within a 10-minute walk of a good public park. Shouldn’t we all? Via NY Times.

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For the First Time, Baby Is Born via a Uterus Transplant from Deceased Donor

For the first time, a woman has given birth after receiving a uterus transplant from a deceased donor, researchers reported. Until now, only uterus transplants from living donors have led to successful births. The whole field of uterus transplantation is in its early days. But researchers said that if transplant teams can reliably use uteruses from deceased donors, it could expand the availability of organs and reduce living donors’ risks during surgery to remove the uterus. In the new case report, published in the Lancet, researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil removed a uterus from a 45-year-old woman who died from a brain hemorrhage and had had three children. The organ was transplanted into a 32-year-old woman who had a disorder that left her without a uterus. Seven months after the transplant, doctors transferred an embryo made via in-vitro fertilization from the woman’s egg and her husband’s sperm into her womb. Via STAT.

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Why Hospitals Should Let You Sleep

If part of a hospital stay is to recover from a procedure or illness, why is it so hard to get any rest? There is more noise and light than is conducive for sleep. And nurses and others visit frequently to give medications, take vitals, draw blood or perform tests and checkups—in many cases waking patients to do so. Some monitoring is necessary, of course. Medication must be given; some vital signs do need to be checked. And frequent monitoring is warranted for some patients—such as those in intensive care units. But others are best left mostly alone. Yet many hospitals don’t distinguish between the two, disrupting everyone on a predefined schedule. Via NY Times.

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Minnesota Adds Alzheimer's as Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana

Minnesota health officials are adding Alzheimer’s disease as a qualifying condition to get medical marijuana. The state Health Department announced that the new condition would take effect in August 2019. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says there is “some evidence” that marijuana improves the mood, sleep and behavior of people with Alzheimer’s. “Any policy decisions about cannabis are difficult due to the relative lack of published scientific evidence,” Malcolm said. The department takes public input on what conditions might be added to quality for the state’s medical marijuana program. Alzheimer’s was one of seven suggested additions. Among those that didn’t make the cut: panic disorder, psoriasis, hepatitis C, opioid use disorder, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and traumatic brain injury. Via WCCO.

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A Big, New Review of Evidence Finds That Prescription Heroin Works

What happens when traditional addiction treatments don’t stick, and people continue using dangerous opioids like heroin and illicit fentanyl anyway? That’s the central question behind a huge report by the RAND Corporation. The review of the research looks at two harm reduction interventions that try to help people who aren’t in conventional treatment: prescription heroin and supervised drug consumption sites. Both approaches are used around the world — in Australia, Canada, and Europe — but are very controversial and have yet to earn official approval in the US. Prescription heroin, called heroin-assisted therapy (HAT) in the RAND report, is a concept that may seem counterintuitive at first. At prescription heroin sites, people with opioid addictions are directly provided medical-grade heroin. Via Vox.

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Mayo Clinic News

Asian Longhorned Tick Spreading in U.S

The Asian longhorned tick has spread across nine states since it first appeared in the U.S. last year, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).“At this time there is no evidence that the Asian longhorned tick can transmit Lyme disease,” said Dr. Bobbi Pritt, M.D., Medical Director of the Clinical Parasitology Laboratory at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “However, a bacterium that is related to the Lyme disease-causing bacterium has been found in these ticks in Asia, so it is hypothetically possible,” Dr. Pritt, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “Therefore, it is always important to take steps to avoid ticks when outdoors.” Via Reuters.

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President H. W. Bush and Mrs. Bush Have Strong Ties to Mayo Clinic

Wednesday, December 5, was the National Day of Mourning former U.S. President George H. W. Bush. The loss is being felt around the country and hits close to home in Rochester with President and Mrs. Bush having strong ties to the Mayo Clinic. Barbara Bush was on the hospital’s Board of Trustees for 13 years. The couple also often hosted Mayo benefactors at their home in New England. Perhaps their most impactful contributions are the scholarship for Mayo’s School of Medicine and a fellowship in pediatric hematology and oncology at Mayo Clinic’s School of Graduate Medical Education. “The beauty in investing in education as President and Mrs. Bush did is it will go on forever. And always in the lives of young people,” Matthew Dacy, Director of Heritage Hall at Mayo Clinic said. Via KIMT.

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This Gene Can Make Viruses Invisible to the Immune System—Up to a Point

It's unclear why double-stranded RNA activates the immune system in the first place, but it could go back to the origins of very early life on the planet, said senior author Roberto Cattaneo, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. One theory holds that primitive cells only held RNA as genetic material. Eventually, however, cells began using DNA, while viruses predominantly began encoding genetic information in RNA. (Not all viruses store their genetic information in RNA, some store them in DNA.) So "cells began to build up an innate immune system to defend themselves [and] to recognize double-stranded RNA as an intruder," Dr. Cattaneo said. Via Live Science.

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11 Diseases That Can Start with Your Gut Bacteria

The classic example of a disease that originates in the gut microbiome is infection by C. difficile, a bacteria that causes diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, and in severe cases, kidney failure. It often develops in people who have taken heavy-duty antibiotics that killed off the normal bacteria in their digestive tract, says Purna Kashyap, M.B.B.S., a gastroenterologist who is Co-Director of the Microbiome Program at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. “If you disrupt the microbiome [the bacterial environment in the digestive tract] by giving it an insult like antibiotics or hospitalization, the bacteria start getting scattered, and you lose some of them,” he says. When you lose that bacterial diversity, you have a weak spot that other bacteria can take advantage of, he points out. “That’s exactly what these opportunistic pathogens like C. difficile do.” Via Reader's Digest.

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A Link between Migraines and Gastrointestinal Problems?

In young children, several syndromes that cause gastrointestinal symptoms are also associated with migraines. These syndromes can cause episodes of vomiting (cyclical vomiting), abdominal pain (abdominal migraine) and dizziness (benign paroxysmal vertigo). They're often called childhood periodic syndromes or episodic syndromes that may be associated with migraine. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.