Lung Cancer: AI Can Reduce False Positives on Low-Dose CT Screening

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Panayiotis (Takis) Benos, Ph.D.Professor and Vice Chair for Academic AffairsDepartment of Computational and Systems BiologyAssociate Director, Integrative Systems Biology ProgramDepartment of Computational and Systems Biology, SOM andDepartments of Biomedical Informatics and Computer ScienceUniversity of Pittsburgh

Dr. Benos

Panayiotis (Takis) Benos, Ph.D.
Professor and Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
Department of Computational and Systems Biology
Associate Director, Integrative Systems Biology Program
Department of Computational and Systems Biology, SOM and
Departments of Biomedical Informatics and Computer Science
University of Pittsburgh 

 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans is the main method used for early lung cancer diagnosis.  Early lung cancer diagnosis significantly reduces mortality.  LDCT scans identify nodules in the lungs of 24% of the people in the high-risk population, but 96% of these nodules are benign.  Currently there is no accurate way to discriminate benign from malignant nodules and hence all people with identified nodules are subjected to follow up screens or biopsies.  This increases healthcare costs and creates more anxiety for these individuals.  By analyzing a compendium of low-dose computed tomography scan data together with demographics and other clinical variables we were able to develop a predictor that offers a promising solution to this problem. 

Continue reading

Alzheimer Disease Medications: Progression to Nursing Home & Cardiac Side Effects

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alvaro San-Juan-Rodriguez

Alvaro San-Juan-Rodriguez

Alvaro San-Juan-Rodriguez, PharmD
Pharmacoeconomics, Outcomes and Pharmacoanalytics Research Fellow
Pharmacy and Therapeutics
School of Pharmacy
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: Currently, there are 4 antidementia drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, including 3 acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (AChEIs)—donepezil, rivastigmine, and galantamine—and the N-methyl-D-aspartic receptor antagonist memantine. On the one hand, evidence about the effect of these drugs at delaying nursing home admission is still sparse and conflicting. On the other, all these antidementia medications have been associated with several cardiovascular side effects, such as bradycardia, ventricular tachycardia, syncope, QT interval prolongation, atrioventricular block or even myocardial infarction.

In this study, we aimed to compare time to nursing home admission and time to cardiovascular side effects across all drug therapies available for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. In doing so, we used 2006-2014 medical and pharmacy claims data from Medicare Part D beneficiaries with a new diagnosis Alzheimer’s disease who initiated antidementia drug therapy. Continue reading

Price of Existing Biologics Increased When New Drugs Entered Market

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alvaro San-Juan-Rodriguez

Alvaro San-Juan-Rodriguez

Alvaro San-Juan-Rodriguez, PharmD
Pharmacoeconomics, Outcomes and Pharmacoanalytics Research Fellow
Pharmacy and Therapeutics
School of Pharmacy
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Before 2009, etanercept (Enbrel®), infliximab (Remicade®), and adalimumab (Humira®) were the only tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors approved by the FDA for rheumatoid arthritis. Subsequently, 3 therapies gained FDA approval: subcutaneous golimumab (Simponi®) in April 2009, certolizumab pegol (Cimzia®) in May 2009, and intravenous golimumab (Simponi Aria®) in July 2013. All 6 agents are brand-name drugs.

Our study aimed to evaluate how the prices of existing TNF inhibitors (Enbrel®, Remicade® and Humira®) changed in response to the market entry of new TNF inhibitors.  Continue reading

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: Non-Surgical Options Compared

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Michael Schneider DC, PhD Associate Professor School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences  University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Schneider

Dr. Michael Schneider DC, PhD
Associate Professor
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is one of the fastest growing problems in the country due to its aging population. One third of Medicare users have the condition, and it is the number one reason for spine surgery in this population. Existing research evaluates the benefits of nonsurgical treatment options compared to surgery, but there was no existing research that compared the available nonsurgical options to each other to determine the best course of treatment for each patient.

We studied three nonsurgical treatments for LSS: medical management with medications and/or epidural injections, individualized care with a physical therapist or chiropractor, and group exercise. We assessed each of these treatment methods with a questionnaire, a walking distance test, and a physical activity monitor. 

Continue reading

Specialty Drugs and Increase Price of Brand Names Raise Health Care Costs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy

Dr. Hernandez

Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics
University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The objective of our study was to answer a research question of high policy relevance: to what extent are rising drug costs due to inflation in the prices of existing products versus the market entry of new, more expensive drugs.

We found that rising prices of brand-name drugs are largely driven by manufacturers increasing prices of medications that are already in the market rather than to the entry of new products.

In contrast, increases in costs of specialty and generic drugs were driven by the entry of new drugs.

Continue reading

Serious Mental Illness Raises Risk of 30 Day Readmission

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Hayley D. Germack PHD, MHS, RN Assistant Professor, School of Nursing University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Germack

Hayley D. Germack PHD, MHS, RN
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: As nurse scientists, we repeatedly witness the impact of having a serious mental illness (i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression disorder) on patients’ inpatient and discharge experience. As health services researchers, we know how to make use of large secondary data to illuminate our firsthand observations.

In 2016, Dr. Hanrahan and colleagues (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0163834316301347) published findings of a secondary data analysis from a large urban hospital system that found 1.5 to 2.4 greater odds of readmission for patients with an  serious mental illness diagnosis compared to those without. We decided to make use of the AHRQ’s HCUP National Readmissions Database to illuminate the magnitude of this relationship using nationally representative data. We found that even after controlling for clinical, demographic, and hospital factors, that patients with SMI have nearly 2 times greater odds of 30-day readmission.  Continue reading

Aortic Stiffness is Associated with Increased Risk of Dementia in Older Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Rachel H. Mackey, PhD, MPH, FAHA Assistant Professor of Epidemiology Graduate School of Public Health University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Mackey

Rachel H. Mackey, PhD, MPH, FAHA
Assistant Professor of Epidemiology
Graduate School of Public Health
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: “Hardening,” or stiffening, of the arteries is a risk factor for heart attacks and other cardiovascular disease. Arterial stiffness can be measured by pulse wave velocity (PWV), because the pulse pressure wave travels faster in stiffer arteries. Stiffer arteries transmit increased pulsatile blood flow to the brain and are linked with markers of silent, or subclinical, brain disease, which are related to increased risk of dementia. However, it was not clear whether arterial stiffening would predict risk of dementia, especially in older adults, who often have existing subclinical brain disease. Therefore, a University of Pittsburgh team, led by Chendi Cui, M.S, doctoral student, and Rachel Mackey, PhD, MPH, FAHA, assistant professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, analyzed the association between arterial stiffness and 15-year risk of dementia among 356 older adults, with an average age of 78. Study participants were part of the Cardiovascular Health Study Cognition Study (CHS‐CS), a long‐term study to identify dementia risk factors, led by coauthors Oscar Lopez MD and Lewis Kuller, MD, DrPH. In 1996-2000, study participants had had arterial stiffness measured by pulse wave velocity (PWV), brain imaging by MRI, and had annual follow-up visits for cognitive status.

Continue reading

Most Eye Trauma Occurs in Elderly After a Fall

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Syed Mahmood Ali Shah, M.D. Associate Professor of Ophthalmology University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineSyed Mahmood Ali Shah, M.D.
Associate Professor of Ophthalmology
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Eye trauma is a significant cause of morbidity throughout the world. In the United States, the incidence of individuals hospitalized with eye trauma from 2001 through 2014 increased. Most of these individuals were above the age of 65 and suffered a fall. This is a worrisome trend in light of an increased awareness and continued and concentrated effort to reduce falls. This is a critical point: We need to improve our existing strategies to reduce falls.

The second at-risk group is children and adolescents. Previous studies have shown that effective widespread implementation of injury prevention efforts can lower trauma rates. While we did observe a small decrease in eye trauma as a primary admitting diagnosis, the fact that it was more common in children and adolescents (for whom eye trauma carries devastating consequences and can significantly reduce quality of life) highlights the significance of continued efforts to prevent eye trauma.  Continue reading

Big Survival Differences in Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Between EMS Agencies

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Masashi Okubo, MD. Clinical Instructor of Emergency Medicine Research Fellow Department of Emergency Medicine University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Okubo

Masashi OkuboMD.
Clinical Instructor of Emergency Medicine
Research Fellow
Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) is a major public health problem, annually affecting over 350,000 individuals in the US with low survival rate, 11.4% among those who were treated by emergency medical services (EMS). Prior studies showed a 5-fold difference (3.0% to 16.3%)  in survival to hospital discharge between 10 study sites in North America (US and Canada) and 6.5-fold difference (3.4% to 22.0%) between 132 US counties after OHCA.

However, it was unclear how much patient outcome after OHCA differ between EMS agencies which play a critical role in OHCA care. Among 43,656 adults treated for Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest by 112 EMS agencies in North America, we found that survival to hospital discharge differed from 0% to 28.9% between EMS agencies. There was a median difference of 56% in the odds of survival to hospital discharge for patients with similar characteristics between any 2 randomly selected EMS agencies, after adjusting for known measured sources of variability.

Continue reading

“Rory’s Regulations” Improves Pediatric Sepsis Care

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Idris V.R. Evans, M.D.,MA Assistant Professor Department of Critical Care Medicine University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Evans

Idris V.R. Evans, M.D.,MA
Assistant Professor
Department of Critical Care Medicine
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: New York State issued a state-wide mandate in 2013 for all hospitals to develop protocols for sepsis recognition and treatment. This mandate was called “Rory’s Regulations” in honor of Rory Staunton, a boy who died from sepsis in 2012.

Pediatric protocols involved a bundle of care that included blood cultures, antibiotics, and an intravenous fluid bolus within 1–hour. We analyzed data collected by the NYS Department of Health on 1,179 patients from 54 hospitals and found that the completion of the pediatric bundle within 1 hour was associated with a 40% decrease in the odds of mortality.  Continue reading

Biomarker Procalcitonin Offered Limited Benefit Over Clinical Judgement In Antibiotic Prescribing Patterns

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

David T. Huang, MD, MPH Associate Professor, Critical Care Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science Director, MACRO (Multidisciplinary Acute Care Research Organization) Director, CRISMA Administrative Core (Clinical Research, Investigation, and Systems Modeling of Acute illness) University of Pittsburgh

Dr. David Huang

David T. Huang, MD, MPH
Associate Professor, Critical Care Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science
Director, MACRO (Multidisciplinary Acute Care Research Organization)
Director, CRISMA Administrative Core (Clinical Research, Investigation, and Systems Modeling of Acute illness)
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: The overuse of antibiotics has become a serious threat to global public health, causing antibiotic resistance and increasing health care costs. Physicians have long known that antibiotics are usually unnecessary for acute bronchitis and for some other cases of lower respiratory tract infections, and that antibiotics treat only bacterial infections, not viral. But in daily practice, many physicians often prescribe them.

Previous research had reported that using a biomarker blood test and following an antibiotic guideline tied to the test results could reduce antibiotic use in lower respiratory tract infections. In February 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the biomarker test that measures procalcitonin – a peptide that typically increases in bacterial infections, but not viral.

We conducted the Procalcitonin Antibiotic Consensus Trial (ProACT) trial to evaluate whether a procalcitonin antibiotic prescribing guideline, implemented for the treatment of suspected lower respiratory tract infection with reproducible strategies, would result in less exposure to antibiotics than usual care, without a significantly higher rate of adverse events.

The ProACT trial involved 14 predominately urban academic hospitals. We enrolled 1,656 adult patients who presented to the hospital emergency department and were initially diagnosed with a lower respiratory tract infection. All the patients were tested for their procalcitonin levels, but the results were shared only with the physicians of the patients randomly assigned to procalcitonin-guided antibiotic prescription.

Continue reading

Positive Hopes and Dreams May Protect Urban Youth From Violence

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Alison J. Culyba, MD, PhD, MPH Instructor in the Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Dr. Culyba

Alison JCulyba, MD, PhD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Homicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents, and disproportionately affects minority youth in under-resourced urban communities.

Most research on youth violence focuses on risk factors, such as weapon carrying and substance abuse. We know much less about factors that protect youth from violence. Future orientation, defined as hopes and plans for the future, is linked to many important positive outcomes for youth, including doing well in school and avoiding illicit substances. However, there has been very little research to examine whether future orientation may also protect youth from violence.

To study links between future orientation and violence perpetration, we surveyed over 850 male youth in lower resource neighborhoods in Pittsburgh as part of a community-based sexual violence prevention study. We found that youth with positive future orientation were significantly less likely to report threatening someone with a weapon or injuring someone with a weapon in the past nine months.

Continue reading

Potentially 70,000 Opioid-Related Overdose Deaths Undercounted

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jeanine M. Buchanich, Ph.D. Research associate  Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate  School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics

Dr. Buchanich

Jeanine M. Buchanich, Ph.D.
Research associate
Professor in the University of Pittsburgh Graduate
School of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In the U.S., cause of death codes are assigned by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) using information reported by the coroner or medical examiner completing the death certificate. Drug-specific overdose deaths are identified by the contributory causes of death, which are categorized as “T codes” and are assigned based on the specific drugs recorded by the coroner or medical examiner completing the death certificate. A code of T50.9 means “other and unspecified drugs, medicaments and biological substances.”

My colleagues and I extracted death data by state for 1999 through 2015 from the NCHS’s Mortality Multiple Cause Micro-data Files. We grouped overdose deaths into opioid-related, non-opioid-related and unspecified codes. In five states – Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Pennsylvania – more than 35 percent of the overdose deaths were coded as unspecified.

We then calculated the change in percentage of overdose deaths that fell into each category from 1999 to 2015 by state. In those 17 years, opioid-related overdose deaths rose 401 percent, non-opioid-related overdose deaths rose 150 percent and unspecified overdose deaths rose 220 percent.

This allowed us to extrapolate how many of the unspecified overdose deaths were likely opioid-related. By our calculations, potentially 70,000 opioid-related overdose deaths were not included in national opioid-related mortality estimates since 1999 because coroners and medical examiners did not specify the drug that contributed to the cause of death when completing the death certificates.  Continue reading

Concurrent Opioids and Benzodiazepines Raise Risk of Overdose, esp. Early On

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Dr. Hernandez

Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics
University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Prior research has found that taking opioids and benzodiazepines simultaneously increases the risk of overdose by 2 to 3 fold, when compared to opioid-use only.

However, prior to our study, it was unclear how the risk of overdose changes over time with the concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines.

Continue reading

What Surveillance Testing Should Be Done After Melanoma Diagnosis?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

This image depicts the gross appearance of a cutaneous pigmented lesion, which had been diagnosed as superficial spreading malignant melanoma (SSMM). Note the roughened edges of this mole, and its heterogeneous, mottled, multicolored appearance, which are all characteristics that should evoke suspicions about its classification.

This image depicts the gross appearance of a cutaneous pigmented lesion, which had been diagnosed as superficial spreading malignant melanoma (SSMM). Note the roughened edges of this mole, and its heterogeneous, mottled, multicolored appearance, which are all characteristics that should evoke suspicions about its classification.
CDC Image

Dr. Diwakar Davar, MD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Division of Hematology/Oncology
University of Pittsburgh 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The optimal surveillance strategy to detect recurrence in cutaneous melanoma remains elusive. Risk of recurrence increases with higher stage, and is especially high for patients with stage IIIC disease. Although consensus guidelines agree on surveillance imaging for high-risk (stage IIB-IIIC) MEL, there is no consensus regarding optimal frequency/modality in these patients. NCCN guidelines suggest chest radiography (CXR) at 6- to 12-month intervals for stage IA-IIA melanoma  patients; although this is controversial. There exists a great deal of practice variation in the surveillance of these patients. Continue reading

Family-Support Intervention in ICUs Increased Patient Comfort and Reduced Costs

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Douglas B. White, M.D., M.A.S. Director of the Clinical Research Investigation and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness (CRISMA) Center’s Program on  Ethics and Decision Making in  Department of Critical Care Medicine University of Pittsburgh 

Dr. White

Douglas B. White, M.D., M.A.S.
Director of the Clinical Research Investigation and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness (CRISMA) Center’s Program on
Ethics and Decision Making in  Department of Critical Care Medicine
University of Pittsburgh 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: We set out to test the effectiveness of PARTNER (PAiring Re-engineered ICU Teams with Nurse-driven Emotional Support and Relationship-building). PARTNER is delivered by the interprofessional team in the ICU, consisting of nurses, physicians, spiritual care providers, social workers and others who play a part in patient care. The program is overseen by nurse-leaders in each ICU who receive 12 hours of advanced communication skills training to support families. The nurses meet with the families daily and arrange interdisciplinary clinician-family meetings within 48 hours of a patient coming to the ICU. A quality improvement specialist helps to incorporate the family support intervention into the clinicians’ workflow.

PARTNER was rolled out at five UPMC ICUs with different patient populations and staffing. It was implemented in a staggered fashion so that every participating ICU would eventually get PARTNER. Before receiving PARTNER, the ICUs continued their usual methods of supporting families of hospitalized patients. None of the ICUs had a set approach to family communication or required family meetings at regular intervals before receiving PARTNER. A total of 1,420 adult patients were enrolled in the trial, and 1,106 of these patients’ family members agreed to be a part of the study and its six-month follow-up surveys. The patients were very sick, with about 60 percent dying within six months of hospitalization and less than 1 percent living independently at home at that point.

Continue reading

Reducing Opioids Near End of Hospital Stay May Limit Outpatient Use

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jason Kennedy, MS Research project manager Department of Critical Care Medicine University of Pittsburgh

Jason Kennedy

Jason Kennedy, MS
Research project manager
Department of Critical Care Medicine
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Most previous studies of opioid use in health care have focused on the outpatient setting. But opioids are often introduced during hospitalization. That’s something clinicians can control, so we looked at inpatient prescription of these drugs to identify targets that may reduce opioid use once patients are out of the hospital.

We analyzed the medical records of 357,413 non-obstetrical adults hospitalized between 2010 and 2014 at 12 University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) hospitals in southwestern Pennsylvania. The region is one of the areas of the country where opioid addiction is a major public health problem. We focused on the 192,240 patients who had not received an opioid in the year prior to their hospitalization – otherwise known as “opioid naïve” patients.

Nearly half (48 percent) of these patients received an opioid while hospitalized.  After discharge, those patients receiving hospital opioids were more than twice as likely to report outpatient opioid use within 90-days (8.4 percent vs. 4.1 percent). Patients who receive an opioid for most of their hospital stay and patients who are still taking an opioid within 12 hours of being discharged from the hospital appear more likely to fill a prescription for opioids within 90 days of leaving the hospital.  Continue reading

Are Opioids Effective for Dental Pain?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“Dental Exam” by 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support) is licensed under CC BY 2.0Paul A. Moore, DMD, PhD, MPH

School of Dental Medicine
University of Pittsburgh 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Effective pain management is a priority in dental practice. Government and private agencies highlight the need to provide optimal pain relief, balancing potential benefits and harms of both opioid and nonopioid analgesic agents. The purpose of our study is to summarize the available evidence on the benefits and harms of analgesic agents, focusing on preexisting systematic reviews.

We found combinations of ibuprofen and acetaminophen as having the highest association with treatment benefit in adult patients and the highest proportion of adult patients who experienced maximum pain relief. Diflunisal, acetaminophen, and oxycodone were found to have the longest duration of action in adult patients. Medication and medication combinations that included opioids were among those associated most frequently with acute adverse events in both child and adult-aged patient populations.

Continue reading

PAs Do More Biopsies, Find Less Early Melanoma than Dermatologists

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Laura Korb Ferris, MD, PhD Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute Director of Clinical Trials, Department of Dermatology University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Dr. Laura K. Ferris

Laura K. Ferris MD, PhD
Associate Professor, University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Director of Clinical Trials, UPMC Department of Dermatology
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: Dermatology is one of the greatest utilizers of physician extenders, including physician assistants (PAs) in medicine. The scope of practice of PAs has also expanded over time from a role in assisting the dermatologist to taking a more independent role and many PAs now do skin cancer screening examinations and make independent decisions about which lesions are suspicious for skin cancer and need to be biopsied.

Our main findings were that, overall, in comparison to board-certified dermatologists, PAs were more likely to perform biopsies of benign lesions. For every melanoma that they found, PAs biopsied 39 benign lesions whereas dermatologists biopsied 25.

In addition, PAs were less likely than dermatologists to diagnose melanoma in situ, the earliest and most curable, but also hardest to identify and diagnose, form of melanoma. However, PAs had a similar rate of diagnosing the more clinically-obvious forms of skin cancer, including invasive melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.

Continue reading

Analyzing Street Drugs Can Provide Early Warning of Potential For Fatal Overdoses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“MEXICO-DRUGS/” by Claudio Toledo is licensed under CC BY 2.0Kathleen Creppage, M.P.H., C.P.H.
Doctoral candidate Graduate School of Public Health
University of Pittsburgh

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In the U.S., fatal heroin overdoses have increased in the past decade by 300 percent, with fentanyl – a substance that is 20 to 50 times more potent than heroin – and its analogs increasingly contributing to overdoses. The drug often is implicated in clusters of overdose deaths when it is mixed with heroin and users do not realize what they are taking is more powerful than usual.

We analyzed the test results of 16,594 stamp bags seized as evidence by law enforcement authorities in Allegheny County that were submitted to the county’s Office of the Medical Examiner for laboratory testing from 2010 through 2016. Stamp bags are small wax packets that contain mixtures of illicit drugs, most commonly heroin, packaged for sale and sometimes stamped with a graphical logo by drug dealers to market their contents.

Before 2014, none of the tested bags contained fentanyl. By 2016 it was found in 15.5 percent of the tested stamp bags, with 4.1 percent containing fentanyl as the only controlled substance present.

Continue reading

Children with ADHD Found To Abuse Drugs and Alcohol At Early Age

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Brooke S. G. S Molina, PhD Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics University of Pittsburgh 

Dr. Molina

Brooke S. G. S Molina, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics
University of Pittsburgh 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There has been inconsistency across previous studies of children with ADHD and their risk of substance use in adolescence and in adulthood. This study closely examined substance use by children with and without ADHD over a long period of time, considering that experimenting with some substances, such as alcohol and cigarettes, is typical after teens reach high-school age.

This study found that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) engaged in substance use at a younger age than those without ADHD and had a significantly higher prevalence of regular marijuana and cigarette use into adulthood.

We also found that children diagnosed with ADHD had a faster progression of substance use during childhood and adolescence.

We confirmed a finding for the ADHD group that is widely replicated in the general population – that early substance use strongly predicts adult substance use.  However, more of the children with ADHD were found to be early substance users, such as having a drink of alcohol before the age of 15.

We did not find higher rates of binge alcohol consumption among young adults with ADHD.  However, alcohol use is still an important part of the bigger picture.

The amount of alcohol consumption was self-reported in a questionnaire where the average age of all participants was 25. Binge drinking is very common in early adulthood, but given our findings of children with ADHD starting to drink at younger ages, it’s important to continue this research so we know how many young drinkers with ADHD continue to have serious, chronic problems with drinking as they age.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: It’s very important to understand from our findings that substance abuse begins at a young age – often before high school.  Parents and providers need to understand this and continually assess risk.

We are concerned about the long-term consequences of these substance use patterns.  We do not know how many of these individuals will experience painful and expensive middle age outcomes of chronic substance abuse and associated problems such as divorce, employment problems, injuries, poor health and shortened life expectancy.  Some will be resilient and decrease their substance use.  We need to learn what predicts these outcomes. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: The marijuana use finding is also concerning given the increasing availability of cannabis in the United States and the risk and consequences for children with ADHD needs further study. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: These results suggest a crucial need for routine clinical practice to include early screening and interventions to prevent early substance use, including cigarette smoking, among children with ADHD.

Many children with ADHD end up being cared for in primary care settings, so pediatricians are the front-line treatment care providers and conversations about substance use need to begin early. When children with ADHD are being treated, we need to start monitoring their potential risk for substance use at a young age, and not only treating with medication, but considering the range of factors that increase their risk for becoming dependent on nicotine and for developing substance use disorders. 

Citations:

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2018 Jan 8. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12855. [Epub ahead of print]

Substance use through adolescence into early adulthood after childhood-diagnosed ADHD: findings from the MTA longitudinal study.

Molina BSG1, Howard AL2, Swanson JM3, Stehli A3, Mitchell JT4, Kennedy TM5, Epstein JN6, Arnold LE7, Hechtman L8, Vitiello B9, Hoza B10. 

The information on MedicalResearch.com is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

 

Viral Vector Delivered Gene Therapy That Reversed Diabetes in Mice

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Xiangwei Xiao, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Department of Surgery,
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine,
Pittsburgh, PA

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Diabetes is a prevalent chronic disease characterized by persistently high blood glucose. Diabetes has two main subtypes, type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in high blood levels of glucose. In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells do not produce enough insulin or the body is not able to use insulin effectively.

Continue reading

Medicaid Patients Who Overdose Likely To Get More Opioids

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Julie M. Donohue, Ph.D. Associate professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and  Management and Director of the Medicaid Research Center Pitt’s Health Policy Institute University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Donohue

Julie M. Donohue, Ph.D.
Associate professor in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Health Policy and
Management and Director of the Medicaid Research Center
Pitt’s Health Policy Institute
University of Pittsburgh 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Medicaid enrollees have three times higher risk of opioid overdose than non-enrollees, and for every fatal opioid overdose, there are about 30 nonfatal overdoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). My colleagues and I analyzed claims data from 2008 to 2013 for all Pennsylvania Medicaid enrollees aged 12 to 64 years with a medical record of a heroin or prescription opioid overdose and who had six months of continuous enrollment in Medicaid before and after the overdose claim. The 6,013 patients identified were divided into two groups—3,945 who overdosed on prescription opioids and 2,068 who overdosed on heroin, all of whom received treatment for overdose in a hospital or emergency department setting.

We found that Pennsylvania Medicaid recipients who suffer an opioid or heroin overdose continue to be prescribed opioids at high rates, with little change in their use of medication-assisted treatment programs after the overdose. Opioid prescriptions were filled after overdose by 39.7 percent of the patients who overdosed on heroin, a decrease of 3.5 percentage points from before the overdose; and by 59.6 percent of the patients who overdosed on prescription opioids, a decrease of 6.5 percentage points.

Medication-assisted treatment includes coupling prescriptions for buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone—medications that can reduce opioid cravings—with behavioral therapy in an effort to treat the opioid use disorder. Our team found that such treatment increased modestly among the patients using heroin by 3.6 percentage points to 33 percent after the overdose, and by 1.6 percentage points to 15.1 percent for the prescription opioid overdose patients.

Continue reading

Even After Rebates, Use of PCSK9 Inhibitor Would Still Cost Over $5 Million To Prevent One Stroke

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Pittsburgh, PA 1526

Dr. Hernandez

Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics
University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy
Pittsburgh, PA 1526

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: A few months ago, the results of the FOURIER trial were published. This trial was the first one to evaluate the efficacy of PCSK9 inhibitors in the prevention of cardiovascular events, since the approval of these agents was based on trials that evaluated their efficacy in reducing levels of LDL-C. The results of the FOURIER trial did not meet the expectations generated by prior studies that had simulated how much the risk of cardiovascular events should decrease based on the observed reduction in LDL-C levels. A few hours after the publication of the results of the FOURIER trial, Amgen (evolocumab´s manufacturer) announced that it would be willing to engage in contracts where the cost of evolocumab would be refunded for those patients who suffer a heart attack or a stroke while using the drug.

Continue reading

Cardiovascular Fat in Women at Midlife Varies By Race and Body Shape

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Samar R. El Khoudary, PhD, MPH, BPharm, FAHA Associate Professor, Epidemiology PITT Public Health Epidemiology Data Center University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA 15260 

Dr. El Khoudary

Samar REl KhoudaryPhDMPH, BPharm, FAHA
Associate Professor, Epidemiology
PITT Public Health
Epidemiology Data Center
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260  

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Heart fat is associated with greater coronary heart disease risk. Postmenopausal women have greater heart fat volumes than premenopausal women, and the association between specific heart fat depots and calcification in the coronary arteries is more pronounced after menopause. Race, central adiposity, and visceral adiposity are important factors that could impact heart fat volumes.

We evaluated whether racial differences in heart fat volumes and in their associations with central (abdominal visceral fat) and general adiposity (as measured by body mass index [BMI]) exist in midlife women. Our study included 524 women from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) (mean age: 51 years; 62% White and 38% Black) who had data on heart fat volumes, abdominal visceral fat and BMI.

After accounting for the potential health effects of lifestyle and socioeconomic factors we found that midlife Black women had less heart fat volumes than white women and not surprisingly, the more fat a women carries overall, the higher her risk for a fatty heart. However, white women with higher BMI had significantly more heart fat, as measured by a CT scan, than black women with the same BMI. For black women, the levels of heart fat were greater if they carried more fat in their midsection, as measured by a cross-sectional CT scan, compared with white women with the same volume of fat in their midsection. The results echo the findings we have reported previously in midlife men and published at the International Journal of Obesity (2015) 39, 488–494.
Continue reading