Week in Review: Feb. 1

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

Broken Heart + Cancer = Higher Risk

A history of cancer in patients with takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or "broken-heart syndrome," almost doubled their risk of major clinical adverse cardiac events, a meta-analysis showed. The relative risk of clinical events in patients with this stress-associated syndrome and either current or past cancer increased to 1.82 when compared to takotsubo patients with no history of cancer. Most of the increased risk came in the form of post-hospital discharge events, as the rate of in-hospital events did not differ significantly between the two groups, Francesco Santoro, M.D., of the University of Foggia in Italy, reported here at the European Society of Cardiology annual congress. Via MedPage Today.

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E-Cigarettes Are Effective at Helping Smokers Quit, a Study Says

It has been one of the most pressing unanswered questions in public health: Do e-cigarettes actually help smokers quit? Now, the first, large rigorous assessment offers an unequivocal answer: yes. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that e-cigarettes were nearly twice as effective as conventional nicotine replacement products, like patches and gum, for quitting smoking. The success rate was still low—18 percent among the e-cigarette group, compared to 9.9 percent among those using traditional nicotine replacement therapy—but many researchers who study tobacco and nicotine said it gave them the clear evidence they had been looking for. Via NY Times.

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Injection Opioid Use Linked to Increases in Stroke Hospitalizations

While some people might not typically associate strokes with opioid use, the researchers wrote in their study that heroin, which is commonly injected, can cause stroke in a variety of ways, including by introducing bacteria into the bloodstream via dirty needles or by lubricating the needles with saliva and by causing damage to the heart's tissue with repeated use. The aforementioned practices combined with a rise in heroin use "may explain why opioid-related [infective endocarditis] is becoming more prevalent and leading to complications, such as stroke and death," the report said. Via ABC News.

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New U.S. Experiments Aim to Create Gene-Edited Human Embryos

A scientist in New York is conducting experiments designed to modify DNA in human embryos as a step toward someday preventing inherited diseases, NPR has learned. For now, the work is confined to a laboratory. But the research, if successful, would mark another step toward turning CRISPR, a powerful form of gene editing, into a tool for medical treatment. A Chinese scientist sparked international outrage in November when he announced that he had used the same technique to create the world's first gene-edited human babies. He said his goal was to protect them from infection with HIV, a claim that was criticized because there are safe, effective, and far less controversial ways of achieving that goal. In contrast, Dieter Egli, a developmental biologist at Columbia University, says he is conducting his experiments "for research purposes." He wants to determine whether CRISPR can safely repair mutations in human embryos to prevent genetic diseases from being passed down for generations. So far, Egli has stopped any modified embryos from developing beyond one day so he can study them. Via NPR.

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Almost Half of All U.S. Adults Have Heart Disease or High Blood Pressure

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.—and it seems as if the problem is only getting worse. Nearly half of American adults have some form of cardiovascular disease, according to a new report released by the American Heart Association. The report, the AHA’s annual Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics update, was published in the journal Circulation. For the gigantic report, a panel of experts looked at data from a range of sources (including government reports and clinical trials) to find statistics on cardiovascular disease, which was defined as coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, or high blood pressure. The results showed that 48 percent of American adults (which is about 121.5 million people) have some form of heart disease, and that heart disease is also contributing to an increasing number of deaths. For instance, the report found that that there were 840,678 deaths from the disease in 2016, which is up from 836,546 in 2015. Via SELF.

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Mayo Clinic News

Lowering Blood Pressure May Help Cut Risk of Early Dementia, Study Finds

Drastically lowering blood pressure may help protect memory and thinking skills later in life, researchers reported—the first hopeful sign that it's possible to lower rates of mental decline. “In very old people, we know that lowering blood pressure aggressively may not be good because they have rust in the pipes and they need the pressure,” said Dr. Ronald Petersen, director of the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, who was not involved in the study. “What you don’t want people to do is double their blood pressure medicine tomorrow. They need to have a discussion with their primary care physician so they can get their blood pressure down in a controlled way.” Via NBC News.

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Dr. Vincent Rajkumar Specializes in Multiple Myeloma

Dr. S. Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., is a medical oncologist at the Mayo Clinic specializing in multiple myeloma. He treats patients and conducts epidemiological and laboratory research in myeloma and related disorders. Rajkumar was the recipient of the Mayo Clinic’s 2018 Distinguished Investigator Award, The InterNational Myeloma Foundation’s 2016 Robert A. Kyle Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2015 Janet Davison Rowley Patient Impact Research Award. He has been Editor in Chief of the Blood Cancer Journal since 2014 and Associate Editor of the Journal of Hematology since 2012. Via SurvivorNet.

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How 3 Health Care Leaders Would Improve the Revenue Cycle Process

An efficient hospital revenue cycle process relies on all administrative and clinical functions working together, but with so many moving parts, there is always room for improvement. Health care leaders shared with Becker's Hospital Review one thing they would do to improve the revenue cycle process. Mark Norby, chair of revenue cycle at Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic, said that "creating a data-driven process would help meet the operational challenge of increasing precertification and prior authorization requirements by private or government payers." Via Becker's Hospital Review.

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How One Woman Changed What Doctors Know about Heart Attacks

Katherine Leon was 38 and living in Alexandria, Va., when she gave birth to her second son in 2003. She In 2009, Ms. Leon went to the WomenHeart Science and Leadership Symposium at the Mayo Clinic, where she met Dr. Sharonne N. Hayes, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at Mayo. At that time, the largest study on SCAD included 43 patients. “I walked up to Dr. Hayes and told her we had 70 people, and we wanted research,” Ms. Leon recalled. “She was like, ‘Wow.’” “Everything I learned about SCAD in my medical training was wrong,” Dr. Hayes said. By 2010, with the help of Dr. Hayes and SCAD Research Inc., an organization founded by Bob Alico, who lost his wife to SCAD, Dr. Hayes devised an innovative way to do research, using online networks of far-flung patients and analyzing genetic and clinical data. “We never imagined there would be 1,000 female patients in our virtual registry,” Dr. Hayes said. Via NY Times.

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Do You Need to Worry About a Fever if You Have the Flu?

If you have the flu, you'll likely have a fever, as well. Fever is a temporary increase in body temperate and a common symptom of influenza. "We would consider a fever a body temperature of anything above 101 degrees Fahrenheit," says Dr. Pritish Tosh, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist. "If the fever gets much higher than that, we start getting into the 104, 105 range Fahrenheit range, and that gets concerning for potentially even more severe infection but also other complications." Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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

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