Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Surgical Research / 07.09.2017 Interview with: Mario Goessl, MD, PhD, FACC, FAHA, FESC, FSCAI Director, Research and Education, Center for Valve and Structural Heart Disease Director, LAAC/Watchman™ Program Program Director, Fellowship in Advanced Adult Structural and Congenital Heart Disease Interventions and Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Minneapolis Heart Institute | Abbott Northwestern Hospital, part of Allina Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We wanted to investigate if asymptomatic patients with severe aortic stenosis benefit clinically from adherence to current national guidelines that suggest close follow up within 6-12 months. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA / 07.09.2017 Interview with: Elias Jabbour, MD Associate Professor Leukemia Department MD Anderson Cancer Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Inotuzumab is active in relapsed or refractory (R/R) acute lymphoblastic leukemia  (R/R ALL). The addition of low intensity chemotherapy may further improve outcome. ORR around 80%. Median survival 11 months. Better results obtained in Savage 1. Superior outcome when compared to historical cohort treated with inotuzumab monotherapy (more…)
Author Interviews, Electronic Records, Heart Disease, JAMA / 06.09.2017 Interview with: Rohan Khera MD Division of Cardiology University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Texas What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: An increasing number of studies have used administrative claims (or billing) data to study in-hospital cardiac arrest with the goal of understanding differences in incidence and outcomes at hospitals that are not part of quality improvement initiatives like the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Resuscitation (AHA’s GWTG-Resuscitation). These studies have important implications for health policies and determining targets for interventions for improving the care of patients with this cardiac arrest, where only in 1 in 5 patient survive the hospitalization. Therefore, in our study, we evaluated the validity of such an approach. We used data from 56,678 patients in AHA’s GWTG-Resuscitation with a confirmed in-hospital cardiac arrest, which were linked to Medicare claims data. We found: (1)  While most prior studies have used a diagnosis or procedure code alone to identify cases of in-hospital cardiac arrest, we found that the majority of confirmed cases in a national registry (AHA’s GWTG-Resuscitation) would not be captured using either administrative data strategy. (2)  Survival rates using administrative data to identify cases from the same reference population varied markedly and were 52% higher (28.4% vs. 18.7%) when using diagnosis codes alone to identify in-hospital cardiac arrest. (3)  There was large hospital variation in documenting diagnosis or procedure codes for patients with in-hospital cardiac arrest, which would have consequences for using administrative data to examine hospital-level variation in cardiac arrest incidence or survival, or conducting single-center studies to validate this administrative approach. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Ophthalmology / 06.09.2017 Interview with: Andrew Tatham, FRCOphth Consultant Ophthalmologist Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion and Department of Ophthalmology University of Edinburgh, Scotland What is the background for this study? Response: Raised intraocular pressure (IOP) is the major risk factor for the development of glaucoma, the most common cause of irreversible blindness, with lowering IOP the only proven treatment. Until recently the only way to measure IOP was for patients to visit their clinician  meaning it was only possible to obtain a limited number of measurements. This is problematic given that IOP fluctuates and that 75% of individuals have peak IOP outside office hours. If patients could measure their own IOP it would allow far more measurements to be obtained and result in better understanding of the variation and peaks in IOP. This could improve the detection of glaucoma and determine if patients are adequately controlled with medication. Recently, a patient-operated, home IOP monitoring device (iCare HOME) has become available. The patient holds the device close to their eye and the device automatically determines if it is in the correct position to take a measurement. The tonometer then deploys a small probe which gently bounces off the surface of the eye to determine IOP. As the probe is only in contact with the surface of the eye for a few milliseconds no anesthetic is needed. (more…)
Author Interviews, Infections, JAMA / 05.09.2017 Interview with: Cinnamon S. Bloss, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Division of Health Policy University of California, San Diego What is the background for this study? Response: In 2016, the FDA invited public comments on a draft environmental assessment for a proposed field trial of a genetically modified (GM) mosquito designed to suppress wild-type Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The preliminary finding from the environmental assessment indicated the trial would be unlikely to adversely affect the environment in Key Haven, Florida, the proposed trial site. We assessed public response to this trial based on the content of public comments submitted to the FDA by requesting comment transcripts through the Freedom of Information Act. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA / 05.09.2017 Interview with: Carol A. Derby, Ph.D. Research Professor, The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology Research Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Population Health Louis and Gertrude Feil Faculty Scholar in Neurology Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx, NY 10461 What is the background for this study? Response: The population over the age of 85 is expected to triple in the coming decades, and with the aging of the population, the number of individuals living with dementia is projected to increase dramatically. While dementia prevalence rates are driven by demographic shift to older ages, changes in dementia incidence- the rate at which new cases are diagnosed, would also impact the proportion of the population affected in the coming decades. Recently, studies have suggested that dementia incidence rates may be declining in some populations, although the results have not been consistent. Better understanding trends in dementia rates is important for public health planning. Our objective was to determine whether there has been a change in the incidence of dementia diagnosis within a community residing group of over older adults followed by the Einstein Aging Study, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, NY between the years 1993 and 2015. To accurately characterize trends over time in disease rates requires separating the effects of age and the effects of calendar time. Therefore, we conducted a birth cohort analysis in which we examined age specific dementia incidence rates by birth year, for individuals born between 1910 and 1940. The analysis included over 1300 individuals over the age of 70, who were free of dementia when they enrolled in the study. Dementia was diagnosed using identical criteria over the entire study period, and study recruitment was also consistent over the period. We also examined trends in cardiovascular co-morbidities that have been related to dementia risk, as well as trends in education.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Cognitive Issues, JAMA, Sleep Disorders / 30.08.2017 Interview with: Yue Leng, M.Phil, MD, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco SFVAMC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a very common but treatable condition in older adults. Recent evidence has suggested a link between SDB and cognitive decline in the elderly, but previous studies have been conflicting and have used different methods to examine SDB or cognition. Therefore, it is difficult to draw conclusion on the consistency of this association based on each individual study. Moreover, because each study has reported on specific domains using different scales, it is unclear if Sleep-disordered breathing has differential effects on cognitive domains. The current study is the first to quantitively synthesize all published population-based studies, which covers a total of over 4 million adults, and concluded that people with Sleep-disordered breathing were 26% more likely to develop cognitive impairment than those without SDB. They also had slightly worse performance in executive function but not in global cognition or memory.  (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Gender Differences, Genetic Research, JAMA / 29.08.2017 Interview with: Arthur W. Toga PhD Provost Professor of Ophthalmology, Neurology, Psychiatry and The Behavioral Sciences, Radiology and Engineering Ghada Irani Chair in Neuroscience Director, USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and informatics institute USC Institute for Neuroimaging and Informatics Keck School of Medicine of USC University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA  90032 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The ε4 allele of the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene is the main genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer's disease.  This study reexamines and corrects the sex-dependent risks that white men and women with one copy of the ε4 allele face for developing Alzheimer's disease using a very large data set of 57,979 North Americans and Europeans from the Global Alzheimer's Association Interactive Network (GAAIN). The study results show that these men and women between the ages of 55 and 85 have the same odds of developing Alzheimer's disease, with the exception that women face significantly higher risks than men between the ages of 65 and 75.  Further, these women showed increased risk over men between the ages of 55 and 70 for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is often a transitional phase to dementia. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, HIV, JAMA / 29.08.2017 Interview with: Fahad Mukhtar MD MPH Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics College of Public Health University of South Florida, Tampa What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Studies done in the 80s and 90s showed that patients with Kaposi sarcoma may be at risk of having secondary tumors. As a result of changes that have taken place in the demographics of patients affected with HIV/AIDS as well as Kaposi’s sarcoma, we hypothesized that tumors that follow Kaposi sarcoma might have also changed. We analyzed the incidence of second tumors developing after Kaposi sarcoma using the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Result (SEER) data. Our result indicated that the incidence of secondary tumors following Kaposi sarcoma have decreased after the emergence of antiretroviral therapy. However, we observed a significantly higher than expected number of cancer of the anus, liver, tongue, penis lymphomas, and acute lymphocytic leukemia developing in patients with Kaposi sarcoma in the era of antiretroviral therapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Lipids, UCLA / 28.08.2017 Interview with: Gregg C. Fonarow, MD, FACC, FAHA Eliot Corday Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science Director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center Co-Chief of Clinical Cardiology, UCLA Division of Cardiology Co-Director, UCLA Preventative Cardiology Program David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Los Angeles, CA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The study identifies the clinical and economic consequences of treating a population of patients with established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD ) at high-risk of cardiovascular (CV) events and defines the cost-effectiveness of the PCSK-9 inhibitor evolocumab under various clinical scenarios. The analysis is based on the clinical outcomes from the Repatha Outcomes Study (FOURIER) in patients with established atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), such as those who have already had a heart attack or stroke who require additional therapy. This is the first cost-effectiveness assessment of evolocumab using a model based on a high-quality outcomes trial, combined with U.S. clinical practice data. The analysis identifies the types of high-risk patients for whom this therapy is both clinically beneficial and cost-effective. This study utilized cost-effectiveness and value thresholds employed by the World Health Organization and the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association. Evolocumab was found to exceed generally accepted cost-effectiveness thresholds at current list price. However, this medication could be a cost-effective treatment for patients with established ASCVD in the U.S. when the net price is at or below $9,669 per year. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Pancreatic, Surgical Research / 25.08.2017 Interview with: Nancy You, MD, MHSc, FACS Department of Surgical Oncology The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Houston What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study was motivated by the emerging promise of precision medicine and the emerging evidence that immunotherapy may have phenomenal efficacy in particular molecular subtypes of cancers.  This specific molecular subtype shows deficiency in DNA mismatch repair mechanisms and therefore is thought to be more immunogenic.  DNA mismatch repair deficiency can arise from germline defects such as in the case of patients with Lynch Syndrome, an inherited cancer syndrome, or from epigenetic inactivation DNA mismatch repair genes. Overall, pancreas cancer has seen limited success with conventional chemotherapy.  In our study, we demonstrated that there is a particular molecular subtype of pancreas cancer that is characterized by defect in DNA mismatch repair genes and by microsatelie instability that has a different prognosis than other pancreas cancers.  This subtype of pancreas cancer is suspected to also respond to immunotherapy. (more…)
Addiction, Author Interviews, JAMA, Opiods, University of Pittsburgh / 24.08.2017 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 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, Education, JAMA, UCLA / 22.08.2017 Interview with: Christian de Virgilio, MD LA BioMed lead researcher and corresponding author for the study He also is the former director of the general surgery residency program Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and the recipient of several teaching awards. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Recent forecasts have predicted the United States will have a deficit of as many as 29,000 surgeons by 2030 because of the expected growth in the nation’s population and the aging of the Baby Boomers. This expected shortfall in surgeons has made the successful training of the next generation of surgeons even more important than it was before. Yet recent studies have shown that as many as one in five general surgery residents leave their training programs before completion to pursue other specialties. Our team of researchers studied 21 training programs for general surgeons and published our findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association Surgery (JAMA Surgery) on August 16, 2017. What we found was the attrition rate among residents training in general surgery was lower than previously determined – just 8.8% instead of 20% – in the 21 programs we surveyed. Our study also found that program directors’ attitudes and support for struggling residents and resident education were significantly different when the authors compared high- and low-attrition programs. General surgeons specialize in the most common surgical procedures, including abdominal, trauma, gastrointestinal, breast, cancer, endocrine and skin and soft tissue surgeries. General surgery residency training follows medical school and generally requires five to seven years. The programs are offered through universities, university affiliated hospitals and independent programs. In this study, the research team surveyed 12 university-based programs, three program affiliated with a university and six independent programs. In those programs, 85 of the 966 general surgery residents failed to complete their training during the five-year period the research team studied, July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2015. Of those who failed to complete their general surgery training, 15 left during the first year of training; 34 during the second year, and 36 during the third year or later. Notably, we found a nearly seven-fold difference between the training program with the lowest attrition rate, 2.2%, and the one with the highest rate, 14.3%, over the five-year period surveyed. In the programs with lower attrition rates, we found about one in five residents received some support or remediation to help ensure they would complete their In the programs with higher attrition rates, the research team reported that only about one in 15 residents received such remediation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Smoking / 22.08.2017 Interview with: Dr.  Quinn R Pack MD Assistant Professor of Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine Baystate Northern Region Cardiology Baystate Health Springfield, MA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and is very common among patients with heart disease.  Several smoking cessation medications are available and recommended in clinical guidelines to help smokers quite. However, it was unknown how often these were used and what factors make the use of pharmacotherapy more common. The main finding is that, across of broad range of hospitals, smoking cessation medications are infrequently used and the hospital where the patient was treated was the most important factor in determining if the patient was treated. (more…)
Accidents & Violence, Author Interviews, Dermatology, JAMA, UCSF, Urology / 17.08.2017 Interview with:
Thomas W. Gaither, BS Department of Urology University of California, San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We study genitourinary trauma and reconstruction. This study was motivated from a previous study showing that Emergency Room visits due to grooming were increasing over the past nine year. We sought to better characterize who was at most risk for grooming injuries. We found that grooming is extremely common in both men and women and minor injuries occur in about 25% of groomers. Surprisingly, a little over one percent sought medical care due to their injury. Participants at most risk our those who remove all of their pubic hair frequently ( as opposed to those who just trim). We did not find any instruments that were necessarily putting participants at risk for injury. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Dermatology, JAMA / 16.08.2017 Interview with: Kyle T. Amber, MD Department of Dermatology UC Irvine Health Irvine, CA 92697-2400 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The use of IVIg has been shown in randomized controlled trials to be safe and highly effective in the treatment of both pemphigus and bullous pemphigoid. Despite its efficacy, its cost remains a deterrent to its use. Cost studies in the United States point towards IVIg being an overall cost-saving therapy in the treatment of  Autoimmune Blistering Diseases when compared to traditional immunosuppressive treatment due to the decrease in associated infections, complications, and hospitalizations. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Education, JAMA, Pediatrics / 16.08.2017 Interview with: Jane E. Harding, DPhil Liggins Institute The University of Auckland Auckland, New Zealand What is the background for this study? Response: Neonatal hypoglycaemia – low blood sugars in newborns – affects up to one in six babies born. It involves a sustained dip in blood sugar levels following birth. Blood glucose is the only fuel for babies’ brains (adults have alternative, back-up sources). So, if left untreated, this condition can cause developmental brain damage and lowered education outcomes later in life. In developed economies, as many as a third of babies born are at risk. Risk factors include being born smaller or larger than usual, preterm babies and babies whose mothers have any form of diabetes – this last a growing group, with the rising incidence of gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes. We wanted to systematically track a cohort of babies to see if hypoglycaemia in babies affects their long-term health and development. So we designed the CHYLD study – Children with Hypoglycaemia and their Later Development. We are following 614 New Zealand babies born at risk of low blood sugar levels (neonatal hypoglycemia) into childhood to see if the condition affects their later growth and development. Our team includes researchers from the Liggins Institute, the University of Auckland, Waikato Hospital, the University of Canterbury and the University of Waterloo. Half of the babies in the study were diagnosed with, and treated for low blood sugars. Seventy percent received extra, continuous monitoring of their blood sugar levels, which detected in some babies low levels that were not diagnosed by the heel-prick tests. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Ophthalmology, Pediatrics / 16.08.2017 Interview with: Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, MD, FACS, FARVO Professor of Ophthalmology, Vitreoretinal Service and Surgery Principal Investigator Retinal Angiogenesis Laboratory Director of Pediatric Retina, Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics John A. Moran Eye Center Salt Lake City UT 84132 On behalf of the co-authors: Julia Shulman, Cindy Weng, Jacob Wilkes, Tom Greene, M. Elizabeth Hartnett What is the background for this study? Response: Maternal preeclampsia causes morbidity to mothers and infants worldwide. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a leading cause of childhood blindness worldwide. This study was done to gain insight into the effects of preeclampsia on ROP in a clinical population. The literature is mixed with some reports that preeclampsia increases risk of Retinopathy of prematurity, whereas others suggest preeclampsia is protective or has no effect. The presence of circulating anti-angiogenic factors in preeclamptic mothers that can enter the fetal circulation lends biologic plausibility to the notion that maternal preeclampsia might interfere with developing vascular beds in the fetus, such as the retina, and potentially lead to severe ROP. However, a report using an experimental model provided evidence that uteroplacental insufficiency, a characteristic of preeclampsia, led to protective mechanisms in the offspring that reduced oxygen-induced retinopathy and promoted overall growth. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Geriatrics, JAMA / 15.08.2017 Interview with: Jennifer Brach, Ph.D., P.T. Associate professor, Department of physical therapy School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences University of Pittsburgh What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: This study compared two different group exercise programs to improve mobility in community-dwelling older adults. The first program, a seated program focused on strength, endurance and flexibility, was based on usual care. The second program, called On the Move, was conducted primarily in standing position and focused on the timing and coordination of movements important for walking. Both programs met two times per week for 12 weeks. It was found that the On the Move program was more effective at improving mobility than the usual seated program. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, JAMA / 15.08.2017 Interview with: Maureen Leonard, MD MMSc Clinical Director, Center for Celiac Research and Treatment Instructor in Pediatrics Associate Investigator, Nutrition Obesity Research Center Harvard Medical School Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition MassGeneral Hospital for Children What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: In this systematic review, we discuss the clinical approach to celiac disease and nonceliac gluten sensitivity, highlighting how to distinguish between these two conditions and their management. These disorders cannot be distinguished based on symptoms. A single elevated serology test is not diagnostic for celiac disease, and patients with abnormal serologic testing must be referred to a gastroenterologist for further testing and remain on a gluten-containing diet until their diagnostic evaluation is completed. While the treatment for both conditions is a gluten-free diet, the possibility of long-term complications differs. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Cost of Health Care, Duke, JAMA / 11.08.2017 Interview with: Dr. Fumiko Chino, MD Duke Radiation Oncology Duke School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The financial burden of cancer treatment is a growing concern. Out-of-pocket expenses are higher for patients with cancer than for those who have other chronic illnesses. Fifty percent of elderly cancer patients spend at least 10% of their income on treatment-related out-of-pocket expenses. Additionally, high financial burden is associated with both increased risk of poor psychological well-being and worse health-related quality of life. A cancer diagnosis has been shown to be an independent risk factor for declaring personal bankruptcy, and cancer patients who declare personal bankruptcy are at greater risk for mortality. These potentially harmful outcomes resulting from financial burden have been recognized as the financial toxicity of cancer therapy, analogous to the more commonly considered physical toxicity. We conducted an IRB approved study of financial distress and cost expectations among patients with cancer presenting for anti-cancer therapy. In this cross-sectional, survey based study of 300 patients, over one third of patients reported higher than expected financial burden. Cancer patients with highest financial distress are underinsured, paying nearly 1/3 of income in cancer-related costs. In adjusted analysis, experiencing higher than expected financial burden was associated with high/overwhelming financial distress (OR 4.78; 95% CI 2.02-11.32; p<0.01) and with decreased willingness to pay for cancer care (OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.25-0.95, p=0.03). Sambla, a Scandinavian lender, has been working with many patients to prevent any financial distress resulting from unexpected medical bills. As a result of customer feedback, it has modified the terms of all loans it issues to allow for jumbo loan sizes and reduced interest rates, combined with longer repayment times to help its borrowers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, JAMA, Outcomes & Safety, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 09.08.2017 Interview with: Dr. Lee Joseph, MD, MS Postdoctoral fellow at University of Iowa Division of Cardiovascular Diseases Department of Internal Medicine University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Iowa City What is the background for this study? Response: In-hospital cardiac arrest (IHCA) is common and affects more than 200,000 patients every year. Although survival for in-hospital cardiac arrest has improved in recent years, marked racial differences in survival are present. A previous study showed that black patients with in-hospital cardiac arrest have 27% lower chance of surviving an in-hospital cardiac arrest due to a shockable rhythm compared to white patients. Moreover, lower survival in black patients was largely attributable to the fact that black patients were predominantly treated in lower quality hospitals compared to white patients.  In other words, racial disparities in survival are closely intertwined with hospital quality, and this has been borne out in multiple other studies as well In this study, we were interested in determining whether improvement in in-hospital cardiac arrest survival that has occurred in recent years benefited black and white patients equally or not? In other words, have racial differences in survival decreased as overall survival has improved. If so, what is the mechanism of that improvement? And finally, did hospitals that predominantly treat black patients make the greatest improvement in survival? To address these questions, we used data from the Get With The Guidelines-Resuscitation, a large national quality improvement registry of in-hospital cardiac arrest that was established by the American Heart Association in the year 2000. Participating hospitals submit rich clinical data on patients who experience in-hospital cardiac arrest. Over the last 17 years, the registry has grown markedly and currently includes information on >200,000 patients from > 500 hospitals. The primary purpose is quality improvement. But it has also become an important resource to conduct research into the epidemiology and outcomes associated with in-hospital cardiac arrest. Using data from the Get With the Guidelines-Resuscitation, we identified 112,139 patients at 289 hospitals between 2000-2014. Approximately 25% of the patients were of black race and the remainder were white patients. We constructed two-level hierarchical regression models to estimate yearly risk adjusted survival rates in black and white patients and examined how survival differences changed over time both on an absolute and a relative scale. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Social Issues / 07.08.2017 Interview with: Arlene S. Ash, PhD Department of Quantitative Health Sciences University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: State Medicaid programs (and other health care purchasers) often contract with several managed care organizations, each of which agrees to address all health care needs for some of their beneficiaries. Suppose a Medicaid program has $5000 to spend, on average, for each of its 1 million beneficiaries. How much should they pay health plan “A” for the particular 100,000 beneficiaries it enrolls? If some group, such as those who are homeless, is much more expensive to care for than the payment, plans that try to provide good care for many such people will go broke. We describe the model now used by MassHealth to ensure that plans get more money for enrolling patients with greater medical and social needs. In this medical-social model, about 10% of total dollars is allocated by factors other than the medical-morbidity risk score. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, JAMA, Lipids, University of Pittsburgh / 07.08.2017 Interview with: Inmaculada Hernandez, PharmD, PhD Assistant Professor of Pharmacy and Therapeutics University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy Pittsburgh, PA 1526 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. (more…)
Author Interviews, JAMA, Schizophrenia / 02.08.2017 Interview with: Peter Kochunov PhD Professor Maryland Psychiatric Research Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Schizophrenia is a debilitating disorder that strikes young people at the point of entering adulthood. In the past, we and others demonstrated that patients with schizophrenia are characterized by deficits in the white matter of the brain. White matter is the part of the brain that serves the backbone of cerebral networks transmitting information and interconnecting brain regions. In this report, we link the impaired white matter of the brain in schizophrenia patients with the disorder-related deficits in the processing speed. We also showed that mental processing speed is a fundamental cognitive construct that partially supports other functions like working memory in patients, where processing speed acting as the intermediate between white matter deficits and reduced working memory. This interesting relationship between processing speed, working memory, and white matter is most obvious in white matter regions most vulnerable to schizophrenia. That was the main finding of the study. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JAMA, Surgical Research / 02.08.2017 Interview with: Dr. Lisa K. Jacobs MD Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Baltimore, Maryland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Breast preservation is the preferred treatment for many women diagnosed with breast cancer.  The most common question that a patient will ask after the surgery is, “Did you get it all?” In the ideal case, this is accomplished in a single outpatient surgery with very good cosmetic results.  In our study, Beyond the Margins-Economic Costs and Complications Associated with Repeated Breast-Conserving Surgeries we evaluated the detrimental effects of an unsuccessful initial surgery due to positive surgical margins. Using private insurance claims data, we found that 16% of patients planning breast preservation required a second breast-conserving surgery and an additional 7% converted to mastectomy.  Of those patients that required additional surgery there was a 56% ($16,072) increase in cost and a 48% increase in complications.  Those complications include infection, hematoma, seroma, and fat necrosis.  This study demonstrates that repeated surgery has not only cosmetic consequences, but also has financial implications and increased risk. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, JAMA / 02.08.2017 Interview with: Benjamin Weixler, MD Department of Surgery University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland and Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: For most patients with lymph node negative colon cancer (stage I and II) surgery is regarded to be the curative treatment. Despite the curative attempt up to thirty percent of these patients will develop disease recurrence, most likely due to missed micro-metastatic disease at initial tumor staging. Pathological standard processing with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) entails a considerable risk of missing micro-metastatic deposits in the lymph nodes. Mounting evidence indicates that micro-metastatic tumor deposits in the lymph nodes as well as in the bone marrow might be associated with an increased risk of disease recurrence and death in node negative patients. With our study we wanted to examine the correlation between the occurrence of micro-metastatic deposits in the lymph nodes and the bone marrow as well as their prognostic significance. As a main finding, the study provides compelling evidence that tumor cell dissemination to the lymph nodes and to the bone marrow are independent events in patients with colon cancer. Most importantly did the study demonstrate that micro-metastatic deposits in the lymph nodes as well as in the bone marrow are independent negative prognostic factors regarding  disease-free and overall survival. The combined occurrence is associated with significantly worse prognosis compared to either one of them. (more…)
Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Brain Injury, JAMA / 01.08.2017 Interview with: Dr. Adrian Harel, PhD Chief Executive Officer Medicortex Finland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Every 15 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a new head injury. Of the 2.5M people treated in hospital emergency rooms each year, 80,000 become permanently disabled because of TBI. Currently, there are no reliable diagnostic tests to assess the presence or severity of an injury on-site, nor are there any pharmaceutical therapies that could stop the secondary injury from spreading. Accurate diagnostics would benefit especially mild cases of TBI (concussions), which, if occurring repeatedly, may cause neurodegenerative conditions such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (which is typical for athletes in NFL and Ice-hockey). We have performed extensive preclinical research comparing fluid biopsies from normal and injured lab animals. The results showed some unique biomarkers released as a biodegradation products after head injury. The data served as the basis and confirmation for our patent applications to protect the biomarker concept. Medicortex has completed a clinical proof-of-concept trial in collaboration with Turku University Hospital (Tyks). Samples from 12 TBI patients and 12 healthy volunteers were collected and analyzed for the presence and for the level of the biomarker in state-of-the-art laboratories. The study demonstrated the diagnostic potential of the new biomarker in humans and it confirmed the prior preclinical findings. This was a significant milestone for Medicortex. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA, Ophthalmology, UC Davis / 30.07.2017 Interview with: Jeffrey R. Willis MD, PhD UC Davis Eye Center University of California, Davis Sacramento California What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.  Yet there is limited national level data on the impact of worsening DR on quality of life and visual function. Our study aimed to address this knowledge gap by evaluating the functional burden of DR across severity levels, utilizing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We found that one-half of US adults with severe non-proliferative diabetic retinopathy (NPDR) or proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) had difficulty with ≥ 1 visual function task, possibly impacting their daily work/activities.  These patients reported a significantly greater vision-related functional burden relative to those with less severe forms of DR. (more…)