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.
Australia had an unusually early and fairly severe flu season this year. Since that may foretell a serious outbreak on its way in the United States, public health experts now are urging Americans to get their flu shots as soon as possible. “It’s too early to tell for sure, because sometimes Australia is predictive and sometimes it’s not,” said Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “But the best move is to get the vaccine right now.” The number of cases of flu in this country is still quite low, according to the weekly CDC FluView released Friday. But as the weather cools, it is expected to ramp up. Via New York Times.
For years at Buffalo High School outside Minneapolis, many students were defiant about vaping. Now, some of them are starting to get scared. Mounting deaths and mystery illnesses begin to raise new fears among kids. “I think it was supposed to be a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. That’s like not the case anymore,” said Nicole Odeen, a 17-year-old senior at Buffalo High in this town of nearly 16,000 located about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis. “Hundreds are in the hospital. With anything you’re putting into your lungs, you’ve gotta know there’s got to be some downsides to it,” said junior Elle Kaiser, 16. Concerns about the health consequences of vaping are hitting the epicenter of the public health crisis around e-cigarettes: the American high school. “People are thinking, ‘This is a big deal. I’ve got to pay attention.’ It is horrible that it had to come to the tragedy of kids losing their lives, but now it’s at least in front of people,” said Mark Mischke, the principal of Buffalo High School. Via Wall Street Journal.
Pathology in the brain accumulates for years or decades before memory loss and other cognitive symptoms appear. In the years before dementia becomes evident, however, patients typically show subtle but measurable cognitive declines—a syndrome known as mild cognitive impairment, or MCI. “Mild cognitive impairment exists between the cognitive changes of normal aging and dementia,” says Ronald Petersen, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Mayo Clinic and the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Via American Psychological Association.
The Mayo Clinic is scanning 20,000 genes for thousands of patients to study genes’ role in disease. It will hand over results for just 59. Mayo will look for certain disease-causing gene variants for heart disease or breast cancer and offer results to patients who have them, but it doesn’t look at variants for early-onset Alzheimer’s or Lou Gehrig’s disease, meaning patients will remain in the dark. “There is a risk of causing undue anxiety,” said Dr. Keith Stewart, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine. DNA sequencing creates vast amounts of data that promise to unlock the secrets of disease. But the information is collected faster than the medical world can interpret what it all means. That raises a question for doctors and scientists who perform the scans: How much should they tell patients? Via Wall Street Journal.