Author Interviews, Clots - Coagulation, Emergency Care, Pulmonary Disease, Stanford / 18.08.2018 Interview with: Joseph Bledsoe MD, FACEP Clinical Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine Stanford Medicine Director of Research Department of Emergency Medicine Intermountain Medical Center Murray, UT 84157 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Patients with blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) (PE) are routinely admitted to the hospital for blood thinning medications in the United States. However, evidence from other countries has shown that with appropriate risk stratification patients may be safe for outpatient treatment for their PE. Our study is the largest prospective management study in the US to evaluate home treatment of patients with acute pulmonary embolism. We enrolled 200 patients and after risk stratification with the PE severity index score, leg ultrasounds and echocardiograms performed in the emergency department, patients were treated with blood thinning medications at home with routine outpatient follow up. During the 90 day follow up period we found only one patient suffered a bleeding event after a traumatic injury, without any cases of recurrent symptomatic blood clots or death.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, Osteoporosis, PLoS, Stanford / 29.07.2018 Interview with: Stuart Kim PhD Professor of Developmental Biology, Emeritus Bio-X Affiliated Faculty James H. Clark Center Stanford University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Osteoporosis is caused by a reduction in bone mass, and leads to a high incidence of bone fracture because the weakened bone is less able to withstand the stress of slips and falls. Osteoporosis affects millions of elderly, is responsible for as many as 50% of fractures in women and 25% of fractures in men over the age of 50, and accounts for $19 billion in annual health care costs in the US. Identification of people with an increased genetic risk for osteoporosis could reduce the incidence of bone fracture. Low BMD is also a risk factor for stress fractures. For athletes and military personnel undergoing harsh rigors of training, stress fractures are common injuries that limit playing time, military effectiveness and competitive success. Using data from UK Biobank, a genome-wide association study identified 1,362 independent SNPs that clustered into 899 loci of which 613 are new. These data were used to train a genetic algorithm using 22,886 SNPs as well as height, age, weight and sex as predictors. Individuals with low genetic scores (about 2% of those tested) showed a 17-fold increase in risk for osteoporosis and about a 2-fold increase in risk of fractures. (more…)
Aging, Alcohol, Author Interviews, JAMA, Stanford / 15.03.2018 Interview with: alcohol-cdc-imageEdith V. Sullivan, Ph.D. Professor Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, CA 94305-5723 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Alcohol misuse is a major public health problem worldwide with profound health consequences on the body, brain, and function. Our research group has conducted naturalistic yet controlled studies of alcohol dependence for several decades to further our understanding of when and how alcohol misuse affects specific parts of the brain.  In addition, we wanted to know how alcohol misuse interacts with the typical changes in the brain as we grow older.  The studies are controlled in that we recruit healthy, non-alcohol dependence men and women from the community to undergo the same screening and neuroimaging procedures as our alcoholic recruits.  The studies are quantitative because we use neuroimaging methods (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) that enable us to measure specific regions of brain structural volumes.  Consistent collection of such data over the years positioned us to ask whether age and alcohol dependence interact to produce regional brain volume loss beyond the loss that occurs in normal aging. A number of cross-sectional studies pointed to the likelihood that the effects of alcohol dependence on brain structure would be exacerbated by normal aging, which we do know from longitudinal neuroimaging studies results in shrinkage of cortical gray matter volume and thinning of the cortex. What was particularly striking about our longitudinal study of men and women with alcohol dependence was the acceleration of the aging of brain structure that was especially prominent in the frontal cortex.  Critically, even those who initiated dependent drinking at an older age showed accelerated loss. Because our study sample was large enough, we could also test whether our findings were attributable to conditions that commonly co-occur with alcohol dependence, namely, illicit drug use and hepatitis C.  Although both drug use and hepatitis C infection may have exacerbated brain volume loss, these factors did not fully account for the alcoholism-aging interaction we identified. (more…)
Allergies, Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Stanford, Technology / 03.03.2018 Interview with: Kavita Sarin, M.D., Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Dermatology Stanford University Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: Drug reactions occur in the majority of patients undergoing cancer therapies. Half of serious drug reactions are detected after market approval which can result in painful complications and interruption in therapy. Post-market drug surveillance platforms such as FDA monitoring rely on medical publications and physician reporting and take time to identify trends. We sought to determine if we could identify trends in patient discussions in internet health forums to more rapidly identify chemotherapeutic drug reactions. We chose skin reactions as a proof-of-principle because patients can more easily describe what they see on their skin. Julia Ransohoff, a medical student, and Azadeh Nikfarham, an informatics postdoctoral fellow trained a computer to recognize when a patient undergoing anti-cancer treatment with PD-1 antagonists or EGFR-inhibitors described a drug reaction in their internet forum posts. (more…)
Author Interviews, ENT, JAMA, Stanford, Surgical Research / 12.10.2017 Interview with: David Schoppy, MD PhD Resident, Division of Head and Neck Surgery Department of Otolaryngology Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, Palo Alto, California What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is a growing focus in healthcare on quality, and one component of this focus is the development of robust measures of quality. Currently, there are relatively few validated metrics of performance in oncologic surgery, and several of these indicators are relatively static metrics (such as hospital case volume and institution type). This study examined the relationship between overall survival (one surrogate of quality cancer surgery) and two modifiable variables in Head and Neck surgery - achieving negative surgical margins around a primary tumor and 18 or more lymph nodes from a concurrent neck dissection. After controlling for multiple other patient variables, data collected from the National Cancer Database (NCDB) showed that treatment at hospitals where a high percentage of patients had a surgery with negative margins and 18 or more lymph nodes removed from their neck was associated with improved survival. Importantly, this survival benefit was independent of the individual, patient-level survival benefit conferred by having either of these surgical process measures reached. This study therefore highlights two modifiable measures of institutional performance in Head and Neck surgery that may serve as targets for quality improvement programs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Opiods, Orthopedics, Pain Research, Stanford / 21.08.2017 Interview with: Tina Hernandez-Boussard, PhD MPH, MS Associate Professor of Medicine, Biomedical Data Science, and Surgery Stanford School of Medicine Stanford, CA 94305-5479 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Opioid addiction is a national crisis.  As surgery is thought to be a gateway to opioid misuse, opioid-sparing approaches for pain management following surgery are a top priority. We conducted a meta-analysis of 39 randomized clinical trials of common non-pharmalogical interventions used for postoperative pain management. We found that acupuncture and electrotherapy following total knee replacement reduced or delayed patients’ opioid use. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emergency Care, Heart Disease, JAMA, Stanford / 27.06.2017 Interview with: Alexander Sandhu, MD MS Cardiology Fellow Stanford University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Millions of patients present to the emergency department with chest pain but most do not have lab or EKG findings that indicate the patient is having a heart attack. In patients without signs of a heart attack, stress testing is frequently used to determine the need for further workup and treatment. However, there is limited evidence regarding the benefit of stress testing in these patients. We evaluated how cardiac testing - stress testing and coronary angiography - in these low-risk patients was associated with clinical outcomes. We used a statistical approach that took advantage of the fact that testing is more available on weekdays than weekends. We found that testing was associated with more angiography and revascularization (coronary stenting or coronary artery bypass surgery) but was not associated with a reduction in future heart attacks. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Nutrition, Stanford / 12.06.2017 Interview with: Bradley P. Turnwald MS Stanford University, Department of Psychology Stanford, California What is the background for this study? Response: This study tested an intervention to encourage people to consume healthier foods. Encouraging healthy eating is difficult because many people think that healthy foods do not taste good, and most people prioritize taste over health when choosing what to eat. In fact, lab studies suggest that people rate foods as less tasty, less enjoyable, and less filling when they are labeled as healthy compared to when the same foods are not labeled as healthy. A recent study from the Stanford Mind & Body Lab published last month in Health Psychology showed that healthy foods are even described with less tasty, exciting, and indulgent descriptions compared to standard items on the menus of top-selling chain restaurants in America. This led us to ask the question, what if healthy foods were described with the tasty and indulgent descriptions that are typically reserved for the more classic, unhealthy foods? (more…)
Author Interviews, Gender Differences, PTSD, Stanford / 25.04.2017 Interview with: Laramie E Duncan, PhD Stanford University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that some people experience after a traumatic event, like a terrorist attack, military conflict, or violence in the home. When people have PTSD, they may experience flashbacks to the traumatic event, nightmares, and other recollections of the event that can interfere with their day-to-day lives. Before this study, not everyone was convinced that genetic factors make some people more prone to developing PTSD than others. Using a study of over 20,000 people and analyzing over two hundred billion (200,000,000,000) pieces of genetic information, we demonstrated that developing PTSD is partly genetic. We also found that genetic factors seem to play a stronger role for women than men, though for everyone, experiencing trauma is still the most important factor. (more…)
Anesthesiology, Author Interviews, BMJ, Opiods, Stanford / 15.03.2017 Interview with: Eric C Sun MD PhD, assistant professor Department of Anesthesiology Perioperative and Pain Medicine Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, CA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There have been large increases in opioid-related adverse events over the past decade. The goal of our study was to examine the extent to which these increases may have been driven by combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines, a combination that is known to be potentially risky. Overall, we found that the combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines nearly doubled (80% increase) between 2001 and 2013, and that opioid users who also used benzodiazepines were at a higher risk of an opioid-related adverse event. Indeed, our results suggest eliminating the combined use of opioids and benzodiazepines could have reduced the population risk of an opioid-related adverse event by 15%. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Heart Disease, JACC, Stanford / 27.01.2017 Interview with: Fumiaki Ikeno M.D. Program Director (U.S.) Japan Biodesign Stanford Biodesign Medical Director/Research Associate Experimental Interventional Laboratory Division of Cardiology Stanford University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We sought to determine whether the extent of coronary disease in terms of the number of lesions and their complexity in Type 2 Diabetes patients could predict major cardiovascular events, and hypothesized that revascularization would have greater effectiveness relative to medical therapy among patients with more number of lesions and higher complexity in coronary artery disease. Coronary bypass surgery, catheter-based treatment, and medical therapy all had similar cardiovascular outcomes among patients with less complexity of coronary artery disease who had type 2 diabetes mellitus, stable ischemic heart disease, and no prior coronary revascularization. Among patients with mid or high complexity coronary artery disease, coronary revascularization with bypass surgery significantly reduced the rate of major cardiovascular events during 5 years of follow-up. (more…)
Anemia, Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, Pharmacology, Stanford / 16.01.2017 Interview with: Dr. Glenn M. Chertow, MD Professor Medicine, Nephrology Stanford University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Iron deficiency is common in persons with moderate to advanced (non-dialysis-dependent) chronic kidney disease (CKD), for a variety of reasons. Conventional iron supplements tend to be poorly tolerated and of limited effectiveness. In earlier studies of patients treated with ferric citrate for its effect as a phosphate binder, we saw increases in transferrin saturation and ferritin (markers of iron stores) and hemoglobin and hematocrit (the “blood count”). Therefore, we thought we should test the safety and efficacy of ferric citrate specifically for the treatment of iron deficiency anemia (IDA). With respect to the key findings, more than half (52%) of patients treated with ferric citrate experienced a sizeable (>=1 g/dL) increase in hemoglobin over the 16-week study period compared to fewer than one in five (19%) patients treated with placebo. Rates of adverse events (“side effects”) were similar to placebo; diarrhea in some patients and constipation in others were the most common. There were also favorable effects of ferric citrate on laboratory metrics of bone and mineral metabolism. (more…)
Author Interviews, FASEB, Microbiome, OBGYNE, Stanford / 09.12.2016 Interview with: Carlos Simón, M.D., Ph. D. Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Valencia University, Spain Scientific Director, Igenomix SL. Adjunct Clinical Professor, Department of Ob/Gyn, Stanford University, CA Adjunct Professor, Department of Ob/Gyn, Baylor College of Medicine, TX What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The main findings of this study reside in the concept that the uterine cavity, which has been classically considered as a sterile organ, possess its own microbiome and that the composition of this uterine microbiome have a functional impact on the reproductive outcome of IVF patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Lipids, Stanford / 04.12.2016 Interview with: Fatima Rodriguez, MD, MPH Division of Cardiovascular Medicine and Cardiovascular Institute Stanford University Stanford, CA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The 2013 ACC/AHA cholesterol management guidelines emphasized that high-risk patients with atherosclerotic disease should be on high-intensity statins. We sought to determine how these guidelines are being adopted at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Health System and to identify treatment gaps. Our main findings were that the use of high-intensity statins increased from 23 to 35% following the guideline release for these high-risk patients. However, high-intensity statin use was lowest in Hispanics and Native Americans. Women, older adults, and patients with peripheral arterial and cerebrovascular disease were also less likely to undergo statin intensification after the release of the guideline. We also noted geographic and institutional differences across VA hospitals in rates of high-intensity statin use for secondary prevention. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, ENT, JAMA, Radiation Therapy, Stanford / 15.11.2016 Interview with: Michelle M. Chen, MD/MHS Department of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery Stanford University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The benefit of post-operative radiotherapy (PORT) for patients with T1-T2 N1 oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancer without adverse pathologic features is unclear. Starting in 2014, the national guidelines no longer recommended consideration of post-operative radiotherapy for N1 oropharyngeal cancer patients, but left it as a consideration for N1 oral cavity cancer patients. We found that post-operative radiotherapy was associated with improved survival in both oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers, particularly in patients younger than 70 years of age and those with T2 disease. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, JAMA, Stanford / 16.09.2016 Interview with: Ilana B. Richman, MD Palo Alto VA Health Care System, Palo Alto, California Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research/Center for Health Policy Department of Medicine Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, California What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In November of 2015, researchers published results from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT). This large, NIH-funded study compared a systolic blood pressure target of 120 mm Hg vs 140 mm Hg among hypertensive, nondiabetic patients at elevated risk for cardiovascular disease. SPRINT reported a 25% reduction in the rate of cardiovascular disease and death among those treated to a lower target. Those treated to a lower target blood pressure, though, experienced certain adverse events more frequently. Our cost effectiveness analysis asked two questions: given the potential risks and benefits described in SPRINT, does achieving a lower systolic blood pressure result in net benefit over the course of a lifetime? And if it does, how much would it cost, compared to standard treatment? We found that achieving a lower blood pressure target does result in a net benefit, with a gain of about 0.9 years of life (quality adjusted) among those treated to a lower target compared to those treated to a standard target. This gain, though, required some investment. We found that treating to a lower blood pressure target cost $23,777 per quality-adjusted life year gained. Compared to other commonly used interventions here in the US, this would be considered an excellent value. (more…)
Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, Melanoma, Stanford / 22.08.2016 Interview with: Susan M. Swetter, MD Professor of Dermatology Director, Pigmented Lesion & Melanoma Program Physician Leader, Cancer Care Program in Cutaneous Oncology Stanford University Medical Center and Cancer Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Dysplastic nevi (DN) are frequently re-excised following initial biopsy due to concerns for malignant transformation; however, the long-term risk of melanoma developing in mildly or moderately dysplastic nevi with positive histologic margins is unknown. In this cohort study of 590 histologic DN that were followed over 20 years, 6 cases of melanoma (5 in situ) arose in the 304 DN with positive margins that were clinically observed, only 1 of which developed from an excisionally-biopsied dysplastic nevus. One melanoma in situ arose in the 170 cases that underwent complete excision at the outset. The risk of new primary melanoma at other sites of the body was over 9% in both groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Hematology, NEJM, Stanford / 08.08.2016 Interview with: D. Alan Nelson, MPAS, PhD Postdoctoral research fellow Stanford Medicine What is the background for this study? Response: The study was inspired by the uncertainty surrounding sickle cell trait (SCT) and its association with serious exertional collapse events and mortality in active populations. I conducted initial, exploratory analyses on these topics in 2014-15 while examining a range of military readiness predictors and outcomes. The early work indicated that the risk of mortality, rhabdomyolysis and other exertional events arising from SCT might be substantially lower than that suggested by prior work in the research literature. Dr. Lianne Kurina and I decided to conduct further, focused study at the Stanford University School of Medicine to confirm or refute these findings. In considering best approaches, we noted that there was an absence of prior research in which the  sickle cell trait status of an entire, large, physically-active study population was known. This limitation could introduce bias to inflate the apparent impact of a theorized predictive factor. Aside from the challenges in studying the impact of SCT on exertional outcomes, with respect to prevention, a further concern is that  sickle cell trait is a non-modifiable trait. If it were a serious risk factor for rhabdomyolysis and/or mortality, despite careful exertional injury precautions such as those employed by the Army, this might present great challenges for prevention efforts. To maximize the potential for new research to provide actionable prevention information, our interests included examining a range of modifiable risk factors for rhabdomyolysis. Dr. Kurina and I have employed large, longitudinal military datasets for about five years to examine critical military health outcomes, making this study a natural progression of our joint work. The research proceeded with the support of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and in cooperation with a distinguished group of experts who co-authored the paper and advised the project. The study was conducted using de-identified records of all SCT-tested African American US Army soldiers on active duty during 2011 - 2014 (N = 47,944). (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Nature, Stanford / 30.06.2016 Interview with: Mark Mercola, Ph.D. Professor, Development, Aging and Regeneration Program, Sanford-Burnham-Prebys Medical Discovery Institute La Jolla, California 92037 Professor, Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, CA, 94305, What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Heart disease, especially after heart attack (myocardial infarction) is a major cause of death worldwide, accounting for over 13% of all human mortality. There is a major search for ways to treat the immediate cause or lessen the effect of a heart attack. One way researchers have considered is to boost the blood vessels that nourish the heart muscle. The heart muscle is nourished by many small blood vessels. We found a normal protein that acts as a high level regulator of blood vessel formation in the heart. This protein, known as RBPJ, suppresses the factors that make vessels grow. Therefore, we found that inhibiting this protein made more vessels, and consequently protected the hearts from the damage of a heart attack. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Leukemia, NEJM, Stanford / 29.06.2016 Interview with: Jason R. Gotlib, MD The Clinical Investigator Pathway Hematology Division Stanford University Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The background is that advanced forms of systemic mastocytosis, which are blood cancers characterized by accumulation of abnormal mast cells in the bone marrow and additional organs, represent a group of orphan diseases with a large unmet need. Approximately 90% of patients harbor the acquired KIT D816V mutation, a mutated receptor tyrosine kinase on the surface of mast cells which a primary driver of disease pathogenesis. Only 1 drug is approved for patients with one form of advanced systemic mastocytosis, termed ‘aggressive systemic mastocytosis, or ‘ASM’. This therapy is imatinib (Gleevec), but it is only approved for patients without the KIT D816V mutation, or with KIT mutation status unknown because the KIT D816V mutation is resistant to imatinib. Therefore, this drug may only be useful for approximately 10% of patients. Other drugs that have been used off-label for systemic mastocytosis (but are not approved for this indication) include interferon-alpha or cladribine, which show some activity, but their evaluation to date has been primarily limited to small case series which are usually retrospective in nature, and include mixed populations of systemic mastocytosis patients who have both early stage disease without organ damage (e.g. indolent systemic mastocytosis) and and advanced stage patients, as included in this trial, who have one or more findings of organ damage. Also, those trials employed differing response criteria and no central adjudication of eligibility and response assessments was undertaken. Midostaurin is a multikinase inhibitor with activity against both wild-type KIT, but most importantly, KIT D816V (in contrast to imatinib). Prior work demonstrated that cell lines transformed with the KIT D816V mutation can be inhibited at relatively low concentrations of midostaurin. These concentrations could also be achieved in vivo (e.g. at concentrations achievable in the blood of patients). Cell lines transformed by KIT D816V could not be inhibited by imatinib. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research, Personalized Medicine, Stanford / 01.05.2016 Interview with: Dr. Elodie Sollier Chief Scientific Officer at Vortex Biosciences What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) burden may be a useful biomarker of response to targeted therapy in PDX (Patient Derived Xenograft) mouse models. Vortex Biosciences’ technology has been proven to enrich CTCs from human blood, but use of the technology with mouse blood had not yet been explored. In this poster, human CTCs are isolated with both high efficiency and purity from xenograft model of breast cancer using Vortex’s technology. Circulating Tumor Cell enumeration increased as the tumor burden increased in the mouse demonstrating its utility as a biomarker for drug treatment response. (more…)
Author Interviews, Sleep Disorders, Stanford / 27.04.2016 Interview with: Maurice M. Ohayon, MD, DSc, PhD Chief of the Division of Public Mental Health and Population Sciences Director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Centre (SSERC) John-Arrillaga PI & Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences School of Medicine, Stanford University Palo Alto, CA 94303 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ohayon: Artificial Lights at night are known to be powerful disruptors of the normal sleep/wake cycle. Light exposure at night acts on suppressing and delaying melatonin secretion and exciting the central nervous system. In this study we focused on the effects of the outdoor lights at night, (such as street lights and lights, outdoor light fixtures and advertising boards) as measured at nighttime by satellite observations. We analyzed the sleep habits of a representative sample of the American general population that had been interviewed with the artificial intelligence system Sleep-EVAL. We found that individuals living in areas at high level of radiance, such as can be found in the downtowns of metropolitan areas, have a delayed bedtime, delayed wake up time and, overall, shorter sleep duration, than people living in areas with low nighttime radiance. (more…)
Author Interviews, Pain Research, Stanford / 11.03.2016 Interview with: Eric Sun, MD/PhD Instructor Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine Stanford University What is the background for this study?  Dr. Sun: Epidural steroid injections are frequently used to treat chronic low back pain.  While previous studies have shown they are effective at improving symptoms, whether they reduce spending is unknown.  These concerns are particularly salient because insurers are worried that epidural steroid injections are being overused. What are the main findings? Dr. Sun: Overall, we find that epidural steroid injections were associated with decreases in spending ranging from five to fifteen percent, depending on the specific indication.  These differences were largely driven by decreases in outpatient spending (e.g., spending on outpatient physician visits). (more…)
Author Interviews, OBGYNE, Rheumatology, Stanford / 03.02.2016 Interview with: Dr. Julia Fridman Simard ScD Assistant Professor Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Research & Policy Division of Immunology & Rheumatology, Department of Medicine Stanford School of MedicineDr. Julia Fridman Simard ScD Assistant Professor Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden Division of Epidemiology, Department of Health Research & Policy Division of Immunology & Rheumatology, Department of Medicine Stanford School of Medicine  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Simard: A number of studies have shown that women with lupus who get pregnant have more complications and adverse outcomes, although the methodologies across studies vary considerably. Using population-based data we were able compare the occurrence of these pregnancy complications in mothers with lupus to pregnancies from the general population. We were also interested in whether women in our data set who first presented with lupus up to five years post-partum had more pregnancy-related adverse events. Our descriptive study showed that preterm delivery, infant infection, and preeclampsia were more common in the first singleton pregnancies of women with lupus compared to the general population.  These outcomes were also observed more often among women who appeared to present with lupus up to five years post-partum. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Stanford, Surgical Research / 08.01.2016 Interview with: Sam P. Most, M.D., F.A.C.S. Professor, Departments of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery and Surgery (Division of Plastic Surgery, by courtesy) Chief, Division of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery Stanford University School of Medicine Stanford, CA  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Most: Insurance companies often require patients to try a 6 or more week treatment with nasal steroids prior to allowing nasal surgery to proceed. This is true even in cases of physician-documented severe or extreme anatomic nasal obstruction that we know will not respond to medical therapy. We sought to examine this from a cost and quality-of-life perspective. We found that while the up-front cost of surgery is obviously much higher than medical therapy, when viewed from an effect on improvement of quality of life (or lack thereof, in the case of medical therapy), the surgical therapy became more cost effective as years passed by. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Stanford, Surgical Research / 04.01.2016 Interview with: Dr. Mary Hawn MD MPH Chair, Department of Surgery Stanford School of Medicine Stanford, California Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Hawn: Patients with known coronary artery disease are at higher risk for adverse cardiac events in the peri-operative period.  Revascularization with coronary stents does not appear to mitigate this risk and in fact, may elevate the risk if surgery is in the early post-stent period.  Drug eluting stents pose a particular dilemma as these patients require 12 months of dual anti platelet therapy to prevent stent thrombosis, thus elective surgery is recommended to be delayed during this period.  In contrast, bare metal stents with early epithilialization are not at the same risk for stent thrombosis with anti platelet cessation.   In our retrospective cohort study, however, we observed that stent type was not a major driver of adverse events in the early post-stent period and that underlying cardiac disease and acuity of the surgery explained most of the risk.  We undertook this study to determine the influence of the underlying indication for the stent procedure on surgical outcomes over time following the stent. (more…)
Author Interviews, Leukemia, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Stanford / 14.12.2015 Interview with: Manali Patel, MD, MPH Instructor in the Division of Oncology Department of Medicine Stanford University School of Medicine Researcher at the Clinical Excellence Research Center and the Primary Care and Outcomes Research Group at Stanford Staff oncologist at the Veterans Administration and a researcher in the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Health Services & Research Development group.  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Patel: Racial and ethnic disparities in Acute Leukemia are well documented in the literature but the reasons underlying the disparities remain largely unknown. In our previous work, we demonstrated mortality disparities for minorities with Acute Myeloid Leukemia despite favorable prognostic demographic and molecular factors. We have also shown that differences in receipt of treatment may partially explain a large component of these disparities. The purpose of this study is to determine how socioeconomic status factors influence  mortality from Acute Leukemia using a population-based novel linked dataset of the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results Database and the National Longitudinal Mortality Study. Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Patel:  We found a total of 121 patients with Acute Lymphoid Leukemia and 438 patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in the linked dataset.  After adjusting for socioeconomic status factors, there were increased risk of mortality among Hispanic and decreased risk of mortality among Asian Pacific Islander patients as compared with non-Hispanic white patients in Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.  Among patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, we found no associations of mortality by race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. (more…)
Author Interviews, Emergency Care, Mental Health Research, Stanford / 22.11.2015 Interview with: Arica Nesper, MD, MAS Resident Physician Stanford/Kaiser Emergency Medicine Residency Stanford University Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine Stanford Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Nesper: Patients with severe mental illness are a distinct demographic in the emergency department. Unfortunately, resources to help these vulnerable patients are frequently the target of funding cuts. We aimed to describe the effect of these cuts on our emergency department and the care provided to our patients. In this study we evaluated data from before our county mental health facility cut its inpatient capacity by half and closed its outpatient unit, and compared this data with data collected after this closure. We found that the mean number of daily psychiatric consultations in our emergency department more than tripled and that the average length of stay for these patients increased by nearly eight hours. These two data combined demonstrate a five-fold increase in daily emergency department bed hours for psychiatric patients, placing a significant strain on the emergency department and demonstrating a delay in definitive care provided to these vulnerable patients. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Lipids, Stanford / 13.11.2015 Interview with: Liana Del Gobbo PhD Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston, MA; and Life Sciences Research Organization, Bethesda, MD Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Del Gobbo: Accumulating evidence suggests that nut intake lowers risk of cardiovascular disease. But the specific mechanisms by which nuts may exert beneficial effects (eg. through lowering blood cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, etc.) were not clear. Two prior reviews on this topic only evaluated one type of nuts, and only a few cardiovascular risk factors. To address these knowledge gaps, we performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of controlled trials to examine the effects of eating tree nuts (walnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts) on major cardiovascular risk factors including blood lipids (total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides [TG]), lipoproteins (ApoA1, ApoB, ApoB100), blood pressure (systolic, SBP; diastolic, DBP), and inflammation (C-reactive protein, CRP) in adults 18 years or older without cardiovascular disease. A daily serving of nuts (1oz serving, or 28g per day) significantly lowered total cholesterol, LDL, ApoB, and triglycerides, with no significant effects on other risk factors, such as HDL cholesterol, blood pressure or inflammation. To give you an idea of a 1oz serving size of nuts, it is about 23 almonds, 18 cashews, 21 hazelnuts, 6 Brazil nuts, 12 macadamia nuts, 14 walnut halves, 20 pecan halves, 49 pistachios. We did not see any differences in cholesterol-lowering effects by nut type. (more…)
Author Interviews, JACC, Radiology, Stanford / 27.07.2015 Interview with: Patricia Kim Phuong Nguyen MD and Joseph C. Wu, MD, PhD Stanford Cardiovascular Institute Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The application of CT imaging has greatly increased in the last two decades, raising concern over the effects of low dose radiation exposure from medical imaging. In this study, we recruited 67 patients who underwent CT imaging for various cardiovascular indications including: 1) Pre atrial fibrillation ablation 2) Pre Trans-catheter valve replacement 3) Aortic dissection, and 4) coronary artery disease. A wide range of doses were sampled. We detected damage to DNA and a small percentage of death of T lymphocytes isolated from patients  who were exposed to greater than 7.5 mSv of radiation. No damage was detected in patients exposed to very low doses (less than or equal 7.5 mSv). This study did not look at the relationship between radiation and cancer. (more…)