Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, JAMA, NIH, Pulmonary Disease / 13.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joel Kaufman, MD, MPH, Professor   Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Medicine, and Epidemiology University of Washington  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Increasingly, it is recognized that chronic lung diseases like emphysema occur in nonsmokers and rates of these diseases are continuing to increase.  We really need to understand what’s causing chronic lung disease. Air pollutants are known to make disease worse in people with prior lung disease, but little is known about whether long-term exposure to air pollutants can cause chronic lung disease. We found that higher residential concentrations of air pollutants—especially ozone and traffic-related air pollutants—are associated with changes in the lung—emphysema-like changes in the lung.  The associations were strong and suggest that air pollution may be an important contributor to chronic lung disease.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, UCLA / 12.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Joann G. Elmore, MD, MPH Professor of Medicine, Director of the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  • A pathologist makes the diagnosis of breast cancer versus non-cancer after reviewing the biopsy specimen. Breast biopsies are performed on millions of women each year and It is critical to get a correct diagnosis so that we can guide patients to the most effective treatments.
  • Our prior work (Elmore et al. 2015 JAMA) found significant levels of disagreement among pathologists when they interpreted the same breast biopsy specimen. We also found that pathologists would disagree with their own interpretations of breast biopsies when they where shown the same biopsy specimen a year later.
  • In this study, 240 breast biopsy images were fed into a computer, training it to recognize patterns associated with several types of breast lesions, ranging from benign (noncancerous) to invasive breast cancer. We compared the computer readings to independent diagnoses made by 87 practicing U.S. pathologists and found that while our artificial intelligence program came close to performing as well as human doctors in differentiating cancer from non-cancer, the AI program outperformed doctors when differentiating ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) from atypia, which is considered the greatest diagnostic challenge.
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Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Medicare, UCLA / 08.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Auyon Siddiq PhD Assistant Professor/INFORMS Member Decisions, Operations & Technology Management UCLA Anderson School of Management MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) was created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to control escalating Medicare spending by incentivizing providers to deliver healthcare more efficiently. Medicare providers that enroll in the MSSP earn bonus payments for reducing spending to below a risk-adjusted financial benchmark that depends on the provider's historical spending. To generate savings, a provider must invest to improve efficiency, which is a cost that is absorbed entirely by the provider under the current contract. This has proven to be challenging for the MSSP, with a majority of participating providers unable to generate savings due to the associated costs. This study presents a predictive analytics approach to redesigning the MSSP contract, with the goal of better aligning incentives and improving financial outcomes from the MSSP. We build our model from data containing the financial performance of providers enrolled in the MSSP, which together accounted for 7 million beneficiaries and over $70 billion in Medicare spending. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, NIH / 08.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Co-First author: Jamie J. Lo, MPH PhD student, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health National University of Singapore, Singapore Co-First author & Co-Senior author: Yong-Moon (“Mark”) Park, MD, PhD Postdoctoral fellow, Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health Senior author: Dale P. Sandler, PhD Chief, Epidemiology Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We were interested, generally, in the association between meat consumption and breast cancer risk. Epidemiological studies of red meat consumption and risk of breast cancer are still inconsistent, although red meat has been identified as a probable carcinogen. In addition, there is not much evidence on the association between poultry consumption and breast cancer risk. We studied around 42,000 women ages 35-74 from across the US who are enrolled in the Sister Study cohort. Women provided self-reported information on meat consumption at baseline and were followed for 7.6 years on average. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Opiods / 06.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lauren A. Hoffman, Ph.D. Research Fellow Recovery Research Institute Center for Addiction Medicine Massachusetts General Hospital Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: In 2017, an estimated 11.4 million Americans reported past-year opioid misuse1 and opioid-related overdose accounted for more than 47,000 deaths2. Prior research has helped further our understanding of the prevalence and consequences of opioid misuse, but we know substantially less about recovery from opioid use problems. Recovery-focused research conducted to-date has largely focused on alcohol use disorder, the most common type of substance use disorder. Characterizing recovery from opioid use problems and the pathways that individuals take to resolve such problems can ultimately help identify effective ways to address opioid misuse. Using data from the first national probability-based sample of US adults who have resolved a significant substance use problem (National Recovery Survey3), we provide the first national prevalence estimate of opioid recovery, and characterize treatment/recovery service use and psychological well-being in individuals who resolved a primary problem with opioids, relative to individuals who resolved a primary alcohol problem. We focused our cross-sectional investigation of service use and well-being on 2 time-horizons associated with continued vulnerability: <1 year since problem resolution (early-recovery) and 1 – 5 years since problem resolution (mid-recovery). (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Heart Disease, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 05.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Muhammad Ali Chaudhary, MD Research Scientist Center for Surgery and Public Health Department of Surgery Brigham and Women’s Hospital Harvard Medical School Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Many studies have documented disparities in cardiovascular care for minorities, specifically African Americans compared to white patients. Coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) is a common procedure in the United States, and the outcomes and post-surgical care for African Americans tend to be worse. We examined whether patients insured through TRICARE — a universal insurance and equal-access integrated healthcare system that covers more than 9 million active-duty members, veterans and their families — experienced these disparities. We found no racial disparities in quality-of-care outcomes, providing insights about the potential impacts of universal insurance and an equal-access health care system. The study included 8,183 TRICARE patients, aged 18-64, who had undergone CABG. The study took its data from TRICARE health care claims from the Military Health System Data Repository for the years of 2006 to 2014. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Lancet, Mayo Clinic, Technology / 02.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Paul Friedman, M.D. Professor of Medicine Norman Blane & Billie Jean Harty Chair Mayo Clinic Department of Cardiovascular Medicine Honoring Robert L. Frye, M.D. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heart rhythm that is often intermittent and asymptomatic.  It is estimated to affect 2.7–6.1 million people in the United States, and is associated with increased risk of stroke, heart failure and mortality. It is difficult to detect and often goes undiagnosed. After an unexplained stroke, it is important to accurately detect atrial fibrillation so that patients with it are given anticoagulation treatment to reduce the risk of recurring stroke, and other patients (who may be harmed by this treatment) are not. Currently, detection in this situation requires monitoring for weeks to years, sometimes with an implanted device, potentially leaving patients at risk of recurrent stroke as current methods do not always accurately detect atrial fibrillation, or take too long. We hypothesized that we could train a neural network to identify the subtle findings present in a standard 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) acquired during normal sinus rhythm that are due to structural changes associated with a history of (or impending) atrial fibrillation.   Such an AI enhanced ECG (AI ECG) would be inexpensive, widely available, noninvasive, performed in 10 seconds, and immensely useful following embolic stroke of unknown source to guide therapy. To test this hypothesis, we trained, validated, and tested a deep convolutional neural network using a large cohort of patients from the Mayo Clinic Digital Data Vault. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, NYU, Ophthalmology, Pharmaceutical Companies / 02.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Cassandra L. Thiel, PhD Assistant Professor NYU Langone School of Medicine Department of Population Health NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service NYU Tandon School of Engineering MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Most healthcare professionals and researchers are aware that the healthcare sector makes up about 18% of the US Gross Domestic Product. What many do not realize is that all of that economic activity results in sizable resource consumption and environmental emissions. The healthcare industry is responsible for 10% of the US’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 9% of air pollutants.1 Sustainability in healthcare is a developing field of research and practice, and my lab offers data and information by quantifying resource use and emissions of healthcare delivery. We started looking at cataract surgery a few years ago, in part because operating rooms (ORs) typically represent the largest portion of spending and garbage generation in a hospital.2,3 Cataract surgeries are interesting because they are one of the most common surgeries performed in the world. In the US, we spend $6.8 billion on them each year. Any changes we can make to individual cases would have much larger, global impacts. I studied cataract surgeries at a world-renowned, high-volume eye surgery center in India and helped validate that clinical care could be designed in a way that was effective, cost-efficient, and resource efficient. Compared to the same procedure in the UK, this surgery center generates only 5% of the carbon emissions (with the same outcomes).2 This site’s standard policy is to multi-dose their eye drops, or use them on multiple patients until the bottle was empty. As such, the site generated very little waste. Returning to the US, I observed cataract cases and heard the complaints of OR staff that they had to throw out many partially used or unused pharmaceuticals. In reviewing the literature, we could not find a study that quantified how much we were throwing away and what it cost us to do so. We, therefore, set up a study to look at this particular issue. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Ophthalmology / 01.08.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daejoon Alex Hwang, PhD Instructor in Ophthalmology Investigator, Schepens Eye Research Institute of Mass. Eye and Ear Harvard Medical School MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: Yellow night driving glasses are sold with promises to reduce headlight glare from oncoming traffic and help aging individuals see better at night. Despite a 1997 ruling by the Federal Trade Commission against one company’s claims, the products still remain popular online. We tested three commercially available yellow lens night driving glasses and compare their effectiveness with clear lens glasses on our novel headlight glare simulator in the driving simulator. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lifestyle & Health, PNAS, Psychological Science, University Texas / 31.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: John M. Griffin PhD James A. Elkins Centennial Chair in Finance McCombs School of Business The University of Texas  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The importance of personal traits compared to context for predicting behavior is a long-standing issue in psychology. Yet, we have limited evidence of how predictive personal conduct, such as marital infidelity, is for professional conduct. We use data on usage of a marital infidelity website as a measure of marital infidelity and find that it is strongly correlated with professional conduct in four different professional settings. (more…)
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Cleveland Clinic, Exercise - Fitness, Heart Disease / 26.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dermot Phelan, MD, PhD Director of the Sports Cardiology Center Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: It is well recognized that long-term elite endurance athletes are at higher risk of atrial fibrillation.  We wished to evaluate whether this held true for primarily strength-type athletes. We had the opportunity to screen almost 500 former NFL athletes.  It became clear that we were seeing more atrial fibrillation than one would expect during the screenings. (more…)
Author Interviews, Smoking, Tobacco, Tobacco Research, Yale / 26.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Abigail S. Friedman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Health Policy and Management Yale School of Public Health   MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Smoking is responsible for approximately 1 in 5 deaths in the United States each year. Despite the fact that all US states ban tobacco sales to minors, the vast majority of smokers begin this habit as adolescents. As of July 25, 2019, 18 states and over 450 localities have passed laws banning tobacco sales to those under age-21. The laws are commonly referred to as “tobacco-21” laws. Concurrently, 16 states without state-level tobacco-21 laws prohibit counties and municipalities from raising their legal sales age for tobacco products above the state-mandated age; typically, 18. If local tobacco-21 laws reduce youth smoking, then preemption policies impede population health. To consider this, we estimated the impact of county- and municipality-level tobacco-21 policies on smoking among 18 to 20 year-olds residing in MMSAs (metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas). Specifically, regression analyses compared smoking among 18-20 year-olds in areas with more vs. less tobacco-21 coverage, before vs. after these policies were adopted. (more…)
Author Interviews, Environmental Risks, NYU, Pediatrics, Weight Research / 26.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Melanie Jacobson, PhD, MPH NYU School of Medicine New York, N.Y.  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Our study was about exposure to bisphenols, which are synthetic chemicals found in aluminum can linings, plastics, thermal paper receipts and other consumer products, and their association with obesity among a nationally representative sample of US children and adolescents. We found that children who had greater levels of these chemicals in their urine were more likely to be obese compared with children with lower levels. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, NIH, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 25.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lan N. Đoàn, MPH CPH PhD Candidate, School of Social and Behavioral Health Sciences College of College of Public Health and Human Sciences Oregon State University, Corvallis MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: There is a prevailing stereotype that Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA/NHPI) populations are a model minority group - healthier than all other racial/ethnic groups. As a result, health researchers often consider AA/NHPI so similar that their data is typically grouped together which masks their cultural and health differences. However, AA/NHPI populations represent more than 50 countries or cultures of origin and 100 different languages and have unique health needs and cultural preferences. Prior research has found minimal financial investments in AA/NHPI populations by federal agencies and philanthropy, even though AA/NHPI individuals represent more than 5.0% of the total US population and are the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the United States. The purpose of study was to conduct a review of clinical research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for AA/NHPI populations and to determine the level of NIH investment in serving these populations. We queried the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools Expenditures and Results (RePORTER) system for extramural AA/NHPI focused clinical research projects conducted in the United States from January 1, 1992, to December 31, 2018. We included clinical research funded under research project grants, centers, cooperative awards, research career awards, training grants, and fellowships was included, with an advanced text search for AA/NHPI countries and cultures of origin.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Cost of Health Care, ENT, Surgical Research / 25.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Vinay K. Rathi, MD Otolaryngology Resident | Massachusetts Eye and Ear Project Manager | Partners Ambulatory Care MBA Candidate | Harvard Business School  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?  Response: This study is a secondary subgroup analysis that follows on the heels of a recently published study in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) examining physician reimbursement for surgical procedures in the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), which both public and private insurers use to determine payment rates for clinician services. Although it is widely understood that physician time (i.e., the amount of physician time required to perform a procedure) is perhaps the most important factor used to determine payment rates, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has historically relied upon limited and potentially biased survey data to estimate physician time. Leveraging time data from American College of Surgeons National Quality Improvement Program, the authors of the recent NEJM study demonstrated that CMS does not appear to systematically misestimate intraoperative times, but there are substantial discrepancies that may result in over- or undercompensation for certain procedures and specialties. (more…)
Annals Thoracic Surgery, Author Interviews, Beth Israel Deaconess, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Geriatrics, Heart Disease, Primary Care / 23.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Christina C. Wee, MD, MPH Associate Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School Director , Obesity Research Program Division of General Medicine Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Associate Program Director, Internal Medicine Program, BIDMC Deputy Editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: New research is showing that for many people without diagnosed heart disease, the risk of bleeding may outweigh the benefits of taking a daily aspirin particularly in adults over 70 years of age.  The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recently updated their guidelines and now explicitly recommend against aspirin use among those over the age of 70 who do not have existing heart disease or stroke. Our study found that in 2017,  a quarter of adults aged 40 years or older without cardiovascular disease – approximately 29 million people – reported taking daily aspirin for prevention of heart disease. Of these, some 6.6. million people did so without a physician's recommendation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, JAMA, Nutrition, Weight Research / 22.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Frank Qian, MPH Department of Nutrition Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, Massachusetts MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Plant-based diets have really grown in popularity in the last several years, particularly among the younger generation in the United States, many of whom are adopting a plant-based or vegetarian/vegan diet. However, the quality of such a diet can vary drastically. While many prior studies have demonstrated beneficial associations for risk of type 2 diabetes with healthful plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, whole grains, and legumes, the opposite is true for less healthful plant-based foods such as potatoes and refined grains such as white rice. In addition, some animal-based foods, such as dairy and fish, have shown protective associations against the development of type 2 diabetes, so strict vegetarian diets which exclude these foods may miss out on the potential benefits. Given these divergent findings, we sought to pool all the available data from prior cohort studies to analyze whether the overall association of a diet which emphasizes plant-based foods (both healthful and unhealthful) are related to risk of type 2 diabetes. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Johns Hopkins, OBGYNE, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 20.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Alison Gemmill, PhD Assistant Professor Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: A growing body of evidence suggests that the circumstances surrounding the 2016 presidential election may have had a uniquely negative impact on the health of U.S. Latino population. Few studies, however, have evaluated the population health implications of the election for Latina mothers and their children. We used national data and methods that control for temporal patterning to test the hypothesis that preterm birth rose above otherwise expected levels among Latina women in the U.S. following the election of Donald Trump. We find that the number of preterm births among Latina women increased above expected levels following the election. Specifically, we find 3.5 percent more preterm births among Latinas than projected for nine months following election. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, NIH / 19.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Mark Hoon, PhD Senior Investigator,Molecular Genetics Unit Sensory Biology NIH NIDCR, Bethesda, MD MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Itch is a condition that at some point effects all people. For most of us itch is not a major problem, but for some people with certain chronic conditions it severely effects their quality of life. Examples of diseases which cause chronic itch are atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and renal failure. However, current therapies for chronic itch are mainly ineffective and there is a unmet clinical need. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, Cannabis, Columbia, JAMA, Opiods / 18.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Silvia S. Martins, MD, PHD Associate Professor of Epidemiology Department of Epidemiology Mailman School Of Public Health Columbia University  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: Prior studies have suggested t6hat medical marijuana legalization might play a role in decreasing opioid use. We aimed to test this hypothesis using individual level data on nonmedical use of prescription opioids and opioid use disorder  from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Opiods, Pediatrics, UCSD / 17.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Lorraine Kelley-Quon, MD, MSHS, FAAP Assistant Professor | Division of Pediatric Surgery Children's Hospital Los Angeles Department of Surgery & Preventive Medicine Keck School of Medicine of USC  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Prescription opioids are pharmacologically similar to heroin, and previous research has shown an association between nonmedical opioid use and heroin use. This is the first study to follow a group of teenagers through all 4 years of high school and identify an association between nonmedical prescription opioid use and later heroin use. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, Duke / 15.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Luis Garza, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Dermatology Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We wanted to find out what might stimulate regeneration in mice and humans. We find that in both species during wounding, released “loose” dsRNA induces production of retinoic acid that stimulates regeneration. (more…)
Author Interviews, HIV, University of Michigan / 15.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Rogério Meireles Pinto, LCSW, Ph.D. Professor and Associate Dean for Research University of Michigan School of Social Work MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In order to decrease the rate of HIV infection, interventions to scale up PrEP will need to address identified barriers at multiple ecological levels. In the past decade, interventions proposed to address PrEP implementation barriers were limited to one ecological level or another (e.g., individual or community). The failure to consider interventions targeting multiple ecological levels simultaneously may help explain why PrEP implementation is lagging. This failure is also due to methodological limitations of PrEP implementation studies.This high-quality paper presents a thorough and theoretically grounded review of original research on HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) implementation in the U.S. (more…)
Author Interviews, Lifestyle & Health, Mental Health Research, Opiods, University of Pennsylvania / 15.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Samuel Preston, Ph.D. Professor of Sociology University of Pennsylvania MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Life expectancy at birth in the United States is low by international standards and has been declining in recent years. Our study aimed to identify how these trends differed by age, sex, cause of death, metropolitan status, and region. We found that, over the period 2009-11 to 2014-16, mortality rose at ages 25-44 in large metropolitan areas and their suburbs as well as in smaller metropolitan areas and non-metropolitan areas. Mortality at ages 45-64 also rose in all of these areas except large metropolitan areas. These were the ages responsible for declining life expectancy. Changes in life expectancy were particularly adverse for non-metropolitan areas and for women. The metropolitan distinctions in mortality changes were similar from region to region. The cause of death contributing most strongly to mortality declines was drug overdose for males and mental and nervous system disorders for women. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Hormone Therapy, JAMA, Prostate Cancer, University of Pennsylvania / 15.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ravi Jayadevappa, PhD, MS Department of Medicine Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 19104-2676  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: In the US, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among men. Research shows that hormone therapy or ADT reduces the levels of male hormones in the body, called androgens, to stop them from stimulating cancer cells to grow., and thus is effective in reducing the spread and progression of prostate cancer. At the same time, some research has suggested that decreasing androgen levels may increase the risk factors for Alzheimer’s and dementia, including loss of lean body mass, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression. The ADT therapy may lead to impaired neuron growth and the regeneration of axons, thus affecting the cognitive function. Thus there is growing interest in the possible association between exposure to ADT and cognitive dysfunction. Our study investigates the association between exposure to ADT and subsequent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia in elderly, fee-for-service Medicare enrollees using SEER-Medicare linked databases. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Outcomes & Safety, Surgical Research, Yale / 12.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Daniel Boffa, MD Professor of Surgery Yale School of Medicine  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? Response: We have previously demonstrated that top-ranked hospitals are significantly safer than their affiliates for complex cancer surgery (patients 1.4 times more likely to die after cancer surgery at affiliate hospitals).  A logical extension of this work was to compare affiliate hospitals to hospitals that were not affiliated with a top ranked hospital. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Heart Disease, Imperial College, JAMA / 12.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Ben Cordon, PhD NIHR Post-doctoral Academic Clinical Fellow Specialist Registrar training in cardiology  James SWarePhD, MRCP  Reader in Genomic Medicine Group head within the Cardiovascular Genetics & Genomics Unit Imperial College London     MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: Non-ischaemic dilated cardiomyopathy is a common cause of heart failure and carries the risk of life-threatening ventricular arrhythmia. An implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) can be life-saving in this condition. However, the decision to implant an ICD is not one that can be taken lightly - ICD insertion carries its own risks, such as infection or inappropriate shocks, and our ability to predict who will benefit from a device is currently far from perfect. Genetic sequencing is affordable and widely available and for DCM, like many diseases, it is hoped that genetic stratification may one day help deliver personalised management. In DCM, variants in the Lamin A/C gene for example are known to cause a phenotype with early and severe arrhythmias and, as a result, international guidelines advocate a lower threshold for ICD insertion in these patients. However, Lamin A/C is an infrequent cause of DCM. The commonest known genetic cause of DCM are protein-truncating variants in the gene encoding Titin (TTNtv), accounting for ~15% of DCM cases. We wanted to know if this group had a higher risk of arrhythmia than the general DCM population. Earlier work from our group on this topic found that patients with TTNtv-associated DCM were more likely to have a clinical history of arrhythmia (composite of atrial and ventricular arrhythmia, including NSVT), at the time of their initial DCM diagnosis. But it was unclear if this was driven by ventricular arrhythmia, atrial arrhythmia, or both or if it would translate into a long-term risk of potentially dangerous ventricular arrhythmia of the sort for which an ICD can be life-saving. In another study we analysed a larger cohort of ambulant DCM patients but did not find an increased risk of ventricular arrhythmia – but this was a relatively low-risk group, with comparatively mild symptoms (NHYA I/II heart failure) and moderately impaired LV function. As a result, the overall arrhythmic event rate was low, meaning that the power to detect differences between the TTNtv and non-TTNtv groups was reduced. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, Primary Care, University of Pennsylvania / 11.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Molly Candon PhD Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Lecturer, Department of Health Care Management The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Co-Instructor, Health Services and Policy Research Methods II, MS in Health Policy Research Program, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: A team of researchers (led by Karin Rhodes, MD and Dan Polsky, PhD) conducted a secret shopper study of thousands of primary care practices across 10 states, with trained callers simulating patients with Medicaid and requesting appointments. One of the outcome measures was whether an appointment was scheduled with a physician or Advanced Practitioner. Between 2012 and 2016, the share of appointments scheduled with Advanced Practitioners increased by five percentage points.  (more…)
Anemia, Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Karolinski Institute / 11.07.2019

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Dr. Niels Grote Beverborg, MD PhD Post-doctoral research fellow Department of experimental cardiology University Medical Center Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands Integrated CardioMetabolic Center Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm Sweden  MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?   Response: Iron deficiency is very prevalent worldwide and a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, especially in vulnerable populations such as patients with heart failure. It is well known that iron deficiency can be a consequence of an insufficient iron uptake or increased iron loss (termed low iron storage), or of a chronic low inflammatory state (defective iron utilization). However, so far, we had no tools to distinguish these causes from each other in patients and have not been able to assess their potential consequences. (more…)