Author Interviews, Heart Disease, NEJM, Stroke, Surgical Research / 13.09.2017 Interview with: Prof. Jean-Louis MAS Université Paris Descartes INSERM UMR S 894 Service de Neurologie et Unité Neurovasculaire Hôpital Sainte-Anne Paris What is the background for this study? Response: Stroke is a major cause of death, disability and dementia affecting 17 million people each year worldwide. About 80% of strokes are ischemic strokes due to occlusion of a cerebral artery by a thrombus, itself the consequence of various arterial or heart diseases. In 30 to 40% of cases, no definite cause of ischemic stroke can be identified. Cryptogenic stroke is the term used to refer to these strokes of unknown etiology. The patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a defect between the upper two heart chambers (called atria) though which a thrombus of venous origin may reach the systemic circulation and cause a stroke. This mechanism is called paradoxical embolism. Several case-control studies have shown an association between PFO and cryptogenic ischemic stroke, particularly in patients less than 60 years old, in those who have an atrial septal aneurysm (defined as an abnormal protrusion of the interatrial septum in the right or the left atrium or both) in addition to a PFO, and in those who have a PFO with a large right-to-left shunt. These findings suggested that a PFO might be responsible for stroke and that PFO closure with a device may decrease the risk of stroke recurrence. However, the causative relationship between PFO and stroke and the best strategy to prevent stroke recurrence have long been a hot topic of debate. Three previous randomized clinical trials failed to demonstrate any superiority of PFO closure over antithrombotic therapy. (more…)
Author Interviews, NEJM, Pulmonary Disease / 10.09.2017 Interview with: Dr Prof Nanshan Zhong, MD (Edin), FRCS (Edin), FRCP and Pixin Ran PhD National Center for Respiratory Diseases, State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease, Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, the First Affiliated Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response:    According to the latest research, in 2015, 3.2 million people died from COPD globally, with an increase of 11.6% in mortality compared with that in 1990 (GBD 2015 Chronic Respiratory Disease Collaborators. Lancet Respir Med. 2017,5:691-706). COPD has now become the third leading cause of death worldwide and is estimated to become the disease with the seventh greatest burden worldwide in 2030. In China, the prevalence was 8.2% among people aged 40 years or greater, according to our epidemiological survey in 2007. Importantly, current international guidelines have been mainly focusing on the management of moderate-to-severe COPD. However, among this patient cohort, the severely impaired lung function can only be reversed to a very limited extent despite the most potent treatment combinations. Patients with more advanced COPD are frequently associated with a significantly higher mortality and incidence of re-hospitalization and disability, which cause tremendous economic burden for both the families and the society. However, more than 70% of COPD patients are currently categorized as having stage I to early stage II COPD, most of whom have no or very few respiratory symptoms (Zhong NS, et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2007, 176:753-760; Mapel DW, et al. Int J COPD 2011; 6: 573−581). The vast majority of these patients would have the “COPD assessment Test” (CAT) score of 10 or lower (range: 0 to 40, with higher scores indicating more severe COPD). Admittedly, no medication has been recommended for this patient cohort according to the latest international guidelines. In real-world practice, these patients are almost neglected by physicians and have received virtually no medication. Nonetheless, the annual lung function decline rates among these patients are the most rapid among all COPD patients. (Bhatt SP, et al. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2015; 191: A2433). An important clinical question has been raised regarding whether an intervention strategy targeting at early stages of COPD can possibly make the airflow limitation more reversible or prevent from further deterioration. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, NEJM / 23.08.2017 Interview with: Dan Berlowitz, MD, MPH Investigator, CHOIR Chief of Staff, Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial VA Hospital Professor, Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The main results from the SPRINT study, published in 2015, demonstrated that intensive hypertension therapy targeting a systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 120 mm Hg results in reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality when compared to standard therapy targeting a SBP of 140. Yet many have expressed concerns that lowering SBP to 120 may be associated with a variety of symptoms, including dizziness, fatigue, and depression, especially in older and frailer patients. This study using SPRINT data examined patient-reported outcomes including health-related quality of life, depressive symptoms, and satisfaction. The main findings are that there were no differences in patient-reported outcomes among patients receiving intensive therapy compared to standard therapy, even among older SPRINT participants with multiple comorbidities. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, NEJM, Surgical Research / 16.08.2017 Interview with: A. Laurie Shroyer, Ph.D., M.S.H.A. WOC Health Science Officer Northport VAMC Research and Development Office (151) Northport, NY 11768 Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Surgery Stony Brook University, School of Medicine Stony Brook, NY What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Since the 1990’s, two different approaches have been commonly used by cardiac surgeons to perform an adult coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedure, these approaches have been referred to as  “on-pump” (with cardiopulmonary bypass) or “off-pump” (without cardiopulmonary bypass) procedures. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Randomized On/Off Bypass Follow-up Study” (ROOBY-FS) compared the relative performance of off-pump versus on-pump approaches upon 5-year patients’ clinical outcomes including mortality and major adverse cardiovascular events. (more…)
Author Interviews, Flu - Influenza, Kaiser Permanente, Merck, NEJM, Vaccine Studies / 10.08.2017 Interview with: Michael Jackson  PhD, MPH Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) principal investigator for the United States Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network What is the background for this study?
  • Response: Each year, Kaiser Permanente Washington is one of five sites across the country that participate in the United States Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network. The Network reports its early interim results in the MMWRand presents additional interim results to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)This New England Journal of Medicine publication is an update of those interim results.
  • The findings in this New England Journal of Medicine are special because prior randomized controlled trials indicated that the nasal spray vaccine (FluMist)—also called live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV)—would work well to protect children and teens from the flu, whereas in actual practice we found that the flu shot worked much better, particularly against the predominant strain, A(H1N1)pdm09.
  • The nasal spray vaccine was first seen to be less effective for young children than the flu shot in 2013-2014 for the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus strain. In response, the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus strain used in the nasal spray vaccine was changed for the 2015-2016 influenza season. The 2016/17 season was the first since 2015-2016 to be dominated by the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus, making this our first opportunity to evaluate the updated nasal spray vaccine.
  • The Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network evaluated the impact of this change as part of our estimates of influenza vaccine effectiveness in 2015-2016. Preliminary findings from this study were presented to the ACIP in June 2016, which led to the nasal spray vaccine not being recommended in 2016-2017 in the US, although the nasal spray vaccine remains licensed in the US. In 2016-2017, the LAIV A(H1N1)pdm09 vaccine strain was unchanged from 2015-2016.
Author Interviews, Kidney Disease, NEJM, Transplantation / 04.08.2017 Interview with: Stanley C. Jordan, M.D DirectorDivision of Nephrology Medical DirectorKidney Transplant Program Medical Director, Human Leukocyte Antigen and Transplant Immunology Laboratory Cedars-Sinai, Los Angeles, CA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The background for this study is as follows: Patients who are highly HLA sensitized have antibodies to transplant targets create an immunologic barrier to transplant. Currently, there are no approved therapies for elimination of these antibodies. Desensitization is available but is not always successful and most desensitized patients are still transplanted with a positive crossmatch. Thus, many patients are not able to receive life-saving kidney transplants unless newer therapies to remove antibodies are found. The findings of our study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that the use of the enzyme from streptococcal pyogenes called IdeS® (IgG endopeptidase) is very effective in eliminating donor specific antibodies and allowing transplantation to occur. Antibodies were eliminated from one week up to two months after one treatment with Ides® allowing a safe environment for the transplant to occur. Rejections episodes did occur in some of the patients but were generally mild and easily treatable. Only one patient of 25 lost his allograft during the study. Thus, the study shows promising results for a new approach for elimination of pathogenic antibodies that did not exist before. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Lifestyle & Health, NEJM, Nutrition / 13.07.2017 Interview with: Mercedes Sotos Prieto PhD Research Fellow Department of Nutrition Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous research have found that adherence to the 2010 Alternate Heathy Eating Index, the Mediterranean Diet pattern, and DASH pattern is associated with health benefits, but none of those studies have examined dynamic changes in diet quality over time and subsequent risk of mortality. This is the first study to demonstrate that improvement in these three diet scores over time is associated with reduced risk of total and cardiovascular mortality. In contrast, worsening diet quality over 12-years was associated with 6%-12% increased mortality. In addition, not only improvement in diet quality but maintaining a high adherence to any of the three dietary patterns over 12 years was significantly associated with 9%-14% lower total mortality. (more…)
Author Interviews, NEJM, Prostate Cancer / 13.07.2017 Interview with: Dr. Timothy Wilt, MD MPH Core Investigator: Minneapolis VA Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research Staff Physician: Section of General Internal Medicine, Minneapolis VA Health Care System Professor: Medicine, University of Minnesota School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Prostate cancer is common and potentially serious. However, the comparative benefits and harms of surgery versus observation in men with localized prostate cancer are not known. After nearly 20 years, surgery did not significantly reduce all-cause or prostate cancer mortality compared to observation, particularly in men with low risk disease. Surgery was associated with more harms than observation, causing complications within 30 days in about 20% of men and large long term increases in urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction, as well as treatment related bother and reductions in daily functioning. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Environmental Risks, NEJM, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 29.06.2017 Interview with: Qian Di, M.S, Doctoral Student Department of Environmental Health and Francesca Dominici, Ph.D. Principal Investigator of this study Professor of Biostatistics co-Director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Boston, MA What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The Clean Air Act requires Environmental Protection Agency to set National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). Currently the annual NAAQS for PM2.5 is 12 microgram per cubic meter; and there is no annual or seasonal ozone standard. However, is current air quality standard stringent enough to protect human health? This is our main motivation. We conducted the largest attainable cohort study, including over 60 million Medicare participants, to investigate the association between long-term exposure to ozone/PM2.5 and all-cause mortality. We found significant harmful effect of PM2.5 even below current NAAQS. Each 10 microgram per cubic meter increase in PM2.5 is associated with 13.6% (95% CI: 13.1%~14.1%) increase in all-cause mortality. For ozone, 10 ppb increase in ozone exposure is associated with 1.1% (95% CI: 1.0%~1.2%) increase in mortality. Also, there is no appreciable level below which mortality risk tapered off. In other words, there is no “safe” level for PM2.5 and ozone. In other words, if we would reduce the annual average of PM2.5 by just 1 microgram per cubic meter nationwide, we should save 12,000 lives among elder Americans every year; 5 microgram --- 63,817 lives every year. Similarly, if we would reduce the annual summer average of ozone by just 1 ppb nationwide, we would save 1,900 lives every year; 5 ppb --- 9537 lives. Besides, we found black people, males and people of low SES are more vulnerable to air pollution. (more…)
Author Interviews, Flu - Influenza, NEJM, Vaccine Studies / 22.06.2017 Interview with: Lisa M. Dunkle, M.D. Chief Medical Officer Protein Sciences Corporation 1000 Research Parkway Meriden, CT What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The first and only recombinant protein influenza vaccine (RIV, Flublok) was approved in 2013 as a trivalent formulation for use in adults 18 years of age and older. This approval was based on demonstration of clinical efficacy (full approval) in adults 18-49 years of age and accelerated approval was granted for adults 50 years of age and older. Two clinical trials were conducted in 2014-2015 with RIV4 (Flublok Quadrivalent), of which the trial reported in the current NEJM is one. These studies supported full approval of Flublok in adults 50 years of age and older and approval of Flublok Quadrivalent in all adults 18 years of age and older. The second trial of immunogenicity of Flublok Quadrivalent in adults 18-49 years of age will be the subject of another publication in the near future. The main findings of the current trial are well summarized in the Conclusion of the Abstract: “RIV4 provided better protection than standard-dose IIV4 against confirmed influenza-like illness in older adults.” Additionally, the recombinant vaccine (RIV4, Flublok Quadrivalent) demonstrated significantly less injection site pain and tenderness following vaccination. Based on the characteristics of the study participants, one can conclude that RIV4 is safe and effective in most individuals with underlying chronic diseases (more…)
Author Interviews, NEJM, Stroke / 22.06.2017 Interview with: Craig Anderson | MD PhD FRACP Executive Director Professor of Neurology and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney Neurologist, Neurology Department, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital The George Institute for Global Health at Peking University Health Science Center Haidian District | Beijing, 100088 P.R. China What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Preliminary small studies indicate that lying flat increases blood flow and oxygenation to the brain.  Thus, patients with acute ischemic stroke may benefit from lying flat in bed.  Conversely, sitting up in bed, with the head elevated to at least 30 degrees, may reduce swelling in the brain for patients who have large ischemic or hemorrhagic forms of stroke.  The optimal head position to produce the best outcome from acute stroke, and avoid potential risks, such as aspiration pneumonia, is unknown.  We undertook a large scale multicentre randomized controlled trial where 114 hospitals were randomised to sequentially apply lying flat or sitting up head positioning as a policy of care to a consecutive series of patients, that overall totalled over 11000 patients, presenting with acute stroke.  The study showed there was no difference in the chance of good physical recovery for patients between the two head positions but also that there were no excessive harms for either. In other words, head positioning alone didn’t produce any benefits or harms in patients with acute stroke (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, NEJM, Ophthalmology / 08.06.2017 Interview with: Elisabetta Patorno, MD, DrPH Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital What is the background for this study? Response: Lithium, a widely used medicine to treat bipolar disorder, has been associated with a 400 fold increased risk of Ebstein’s anomaly, a congenital malformation of the heart, and a 5 fold increased risk of cardiac defects overall in infants when taken early in pregnancy, based on the results from the International Register of Lithium Babies in the 1970’s. Beyond this data, most of the information on the safety of lithium during pregnancy accumulated in the last 40 years is based on case reports and small studies with conflicting results. Despite these concerns and the limited information, lithium remains a first-line treatment for the 1% of women of reproductive age with bipolar disorder in the U.S. population, due to its recognized efficacy during pregnancy and the postpartum period, and due to the presence of a larger body of evidence showing increased risk of congenital malformations for other mood stabilizers, such as valproate. (more…)
Author Interviews, Hepatitis - Liver Disease, NEJM / 31.05.2017 Interview with: Dr Marc Bourlière Professeur Associé CHP (Associate Professor PHC) Chef de service (Head of Department) Hôpital Saint Joseph Hépato-Gastroentérologie What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The majority of HCV patients can be cured with combinations of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs); however, there is still 5 to 10% of patients who relapse after treatment with DAAs for whom there are currently no approved therapeutic options available. In these two international phase 3 studies, we have demonstrated that a single tablet triple regimen combining sofosbuvir, velpastasvir and voxilaprevir (a pangenotypic protease inhibitor) for 12 weeks cured 96% of the patients who had relapsed following prior treatment with DAA regimens including NS5A inhibitors and 98% of the patients who had relapsed following prior treatment with DAA regimens without an NS5A inhibitor. These two studies demonstrate that a pangenotypic retreatment option for this patient population could be soon available. (more…)
Author Interviews, Blood Pressure - Hypertension, Cleveland Clinic, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Infections, NEJM / 22.05.2017 Interview with: Ashish Khanna, MD, FCCP Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine Staff Intensivist Center for Critical Care and Department of Outcomes Research Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland How did you become interested in this topic? Response: Anesthesia forms the basis of my training but I also completed a fellowship in critical care and, at the present time, I do more work in critical care than anesthesia. About 75% of my time is spent in the Cleveland Clinic critical care units, including the Medical and surgical ICUs (Intensive Care Units). (more…)
Author Interviews, Critical Care - Intensive Care - ICUs, Emergency Care, Infections, NEJM, University of Pittsburgh / 21.05.2017 Interview with: Christopher W. Seymour, M.D., M.Sc. Assistant professor of Critical Care Medicine and Emergency Medicine, and member of Clinical Research Investigation and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness University of Pittsburgh What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Following the tragic and widely publicized death of Rory Staunton, 12, from undiagnosed sepsis in 2012, New York became the first state to require that hospitals follow a protocol to quickly identify and treat the condition. The mandate led to widespread controversy in the medical community as to whether such steps would have saved Rory or anyone else’s life. Rory’s Regulations require hospitals to follow protocols for early identification and treatment of sepsis, and submit data on compliance and outcomes. The hospitals can tailor how they implement the protocols, but must include a blood culture to test for infection, measurement of blood lactate (a sign of tissue stress) and administration of antibiotics within three hours of diagnosis—collectively known as the “three-hour bundle.” We analyzed data from nearly 50,000 patients from 149 New York hospitals to scientifically determine if  Rory’s Regulations worked. We found that they did - 83 percent of the hospitals completed the bundle within the required three hours, overall averaging 1.3 hours for completion. For every hour that it took clinicians to complete the bundle, the odds of the patient dying increased by 4 percent. (more…)
Author Interviews, NEJM, OBGYNE, Yale / 21.05.2017 Interview with: Hugh S. Taylor, M.D. Anitta O’keeffe Young Professor and Chair Departemnt of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences Yale School of Medicine Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology Yale-New Haven Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Elagolix is an investigational, oral gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor antagonist that blocks endogenous GnRH signaling by binding competitively to GnRH receptors. Administration results in rapid, reversible, dose-dependent inhibition of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) secretion, leading to reduced ovarian production of the sex hormones, estradiol and progesterone, while on therapy. Data from two replicate Phase 3 studies evaluating the efficacy and safety of elagolix were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Elagolix demonstrated dose-dependent superiority in reducing daily menstrual and non-menstrual pelvic pain associated with endometriosis compared to placebo. At month three and month six, patients treated with elagolix reported statistically significant reductions in scores for menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea, DYS) and non-menstrual pelvic pain (NMPP) associated with endometriosis as measured by the Daily Assessment of Endometriosis Pain scale. The safety profile of elagolix was consistent across both Phase 3 trials and also consistent with prior elagolix studies. Ultimately, the studies showed that both elagolix doses (150 mg QD and 200 mg BID) were effective in improving dysmenorrhea, non-menstrual pelvic pain and quality of life over 6 months in women with endometriosis-associated pain. The elagolix safety/tolerability profile was consistent with the mechanism of action. (more…)
Author Interviews, Exercise - Fitness, Geriatrics, NEJM, Weight Research / 17.05.2017 Interview with: Dennis T. Villareal, MD Professor of Medicine Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism Baylor College of Medicine Staff Physician, Michael E DeBakey VA Medical Center What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The prevalence of obesity in the elderly is rapidly increasing, given that the baby boomers are becoming senior citizens, but we do not know how best to manage obesity in the elderly population. Weight loss is the cornerstone of management for obesity but weight loss in the elderly is controversial because weight loss could cause not only fat loss but also muscle mass and bone mass losses, that could worsen rather than improve frailty. We tested the hypothesis that weight loss plus exercise training, especially resistance training, would improve physical function the most compared to other types of exercise (aerobic training or combined aerobic and resistance training added to diet-induced weight loss). Previous studies especially in younger adults have shown that combining aerobic with resistance exercise could lead to interference to the specific adaptations to each exercise, and thus less gain in strength with combined exercise compared to resistance training alone. On the other hand, contrary to our hypothesis, we found that there was no interference between aerobic and resistance exercise, and the most effective mode to improve physical function and thus reverse frailty was in fact weight loss plus the combination of aerobic and resistance exercise, which was also associated with some preservation of muscle and bone mass. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, NEJM / 05.05.2017 Interview with: Kristian Kragholm, MD, PhD Departments of Cardiology and Epidemiology/Biostatistics, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, DK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: It is well known that early help from bystanders including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before arrival of the emergency medical services can increase chances of 30-day survival by three to four times compared to situations where no bystander resuscitation was initiated. The main and novel finding of our study is that bystander interventions, in addition to increasing survival, also lowers the risk of damage to the brain and nursing home admission in 30-day survivors during the first year following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. (more…)
Author Interviews, Gastrointestinal Disease, Immunotherapy, NEJM, UCSD / 04.05.2017 Interview with: William J. Sandborn, MD Professor of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Surgery Chief, Division of Gastroenterology Vice Chair for Clinical Operations, Department of Medicine Director, UCSD IBD Center University of California San Diego and UC San Diego Health System What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is still a substantial unmet need for new treatments for patients with ulcerative colitis. A previous Phase II study had suggested that tofacitinib might be effective for short term therapy of ulcerative colitis. The patients in that study for the most part had not failed anti-TNF therapy. Now we report the findings from 3 large Phase III trials, two short term trials and one long term trial, demonstrating that tofacitinib 10 mg twice daily is effective for short term therapy, and that both 5 mg and 10 mg twice daily is effective for long term therapy. We also demonstrated that tofacitinib is effective both in patients who have not failed anti-TNF therapy and patients who have failed anti-TNF therapy. The study demonstrated induction of clinical remission, clinical response and mucosal healing (flexible sigmoidoscopy improvement) over the short term, and maintenance of clinical remission, clinical response, and mucosal healing over the long term. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, NEJM, Ophthalmology, Personalized Medicine / 20.04.2017 Interview with: John M. Lachin, Sc.D. Research Professor of Biostatistics and of Epidemiology, and of Statistics The George Washington University Biostatistics Center and David Matthew Nathan, M.D. Professor of Medicine, Diabetes Unit Massachusetts General Hospital What is the background for this study? Response: Traditional guidelines for screening for retinopathy, based on indirect evidence, call for annual examinations. The automatic annual screening for retinopathy, without considering potential risk factors for progression,  appears excessive based on the slow rate of progression through sub-clinical states of retinopathy. (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, Heart Disease, NEJM / 13.04.2017 Interview with: Aidin Rawshani, MD, PhD student Sahlgrenska Academy University of Gothenburg What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Management of diabetes has improved in the past decades, studies have shown that mortality and cardiovascular disease among patients with diabetes has decreased, but these studies have not compared the trends among persons with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes to those of the general population, where there have also been reductions in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. We observed marked reductions in incidence for cardiovascular disease and mortality among individuals with diabetes, however, similar trends were observed for the general population. We observed a 43% (HR 1.43, 95% CI 1.25–1.62) greater event rate reduction for cardiovascular disease among individuals with type 1 diabetes compared to matched controls. The reduction in the rate of fatal outcomes did not differ significantly between patients with type 1 diabetes and controls, whereas patients with type 2 diabetes had a 13% (HR 0.87, 95% CI 0.85–0.89) lesser event rate reduction compared with matched controls. There was a 27% (HR 1.27, 95% CI 1.22–1.32) greater event rate reduction for cardiovascular disease among individuals with type 2 diabetes, compared with matched controls. Nevertheless, there remains a substantial excess overall rate of all outcomes analysed among persons with type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, as compared with the general population. (more…)
Author Interviews, HPV, NEJM, OBGYNE, Vaccine Studies / 30.03.2017 Interview with: Anders Hviid Senior Investigator, M.Sc.,Dr.Med.Sci. Department of Epidemiology Research Division of National Health Surveillance & Research What is the background for this study? Response: HPV vaccination targeting girls and young women has been introduced in many countries throughout the world. HPV vaccines are not recommended for use in pregnancy, but given the target group, inadvertent exposure will occur in early unrecognized pregnancies. However, data on the safety of HPV vaccination in pregnancy is lacking. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, Medical Imaging, NEJM / 19.03.2017 Interview with: Dr. Matthias Götberg MD PhD Department of Cardiology, Clinical Sciences Lund University, Skåne University Hospital Lund, Sweden What is the background for this study? Response: Cardiologists encounter patients with narrowing of the coronary arteries on a daily basis. They typically use visual estimation of the severity of narrowing when performing coronary angiography, but it is difficult to accurately assess, based on a visual estimation alone, whether a stent is needed to widen the artery and allow the blood to more freely. FFR (Fractional Flow Reserve) is more precise tool and results in better outcomes than using angiography alone to assess narrowing of the coronary arteries. With FFR, the doctor threads a thin wire through the coronary artery and measures the loss of blood pressure across the narrowed area. To acquire an accurate measurement, the patient must be given adenosine, which is a drug that dilates the blood vessels during the procedure. This drug causes discomfort; patients describe having difficulty breathing or feeling as if someone is sitting on their chest. The drug also adds to the cost of the procedure and can have other rare but serious side effects. iFR (Instantaneous Wave-Free Ratio) is also based on coronary blood pressure measurements using a thin wire, but unlike FFR, it uses a mathematical algorithm to measure the pressure in the coronary artery only when the heart is relaxed and the coronary blood flow is high. As a result, a vasodilator drug is not needed. iFR has been validated in smaller trials and have been found to be equally good as FFR to detect ischemia, but larger randomized outcome trials are lacking. iFR-Swedeheart is a Scandinavian Registry-based Randomized Clinical Trial (RRCT) in which 2000 patients were randomized between iFR and FFR as strategies for performing assessment of narrowed coronary vessels. The primary composite endpoint at 12 months was all-cause death, non-fatal myocardial infarction, and unplanned revascularization. RRCT is a new trial design originating from Scandinavia using existing web-based national quality registries for online data entry, randomization and tracking of events. This allows for a very high inclusion rate and low costs to run clinical trials while ensuring robust data quality.  (more…)
Author Interviews, NEJM, OBGYNE, Thyroid Disease, UT Southwestern / 01.03.2017 Interview with: Professor Brian Casey, M.D. Gillette Professorship of Obstetrics and Gynecology UT Southwestern Medical Center What is the background for this study? Response: For several decades now, subclinical thyroid disease, variously defined, has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes.  In 1999, two studies are responsible for increasing interest in subclinical thyroid disease during pregnancy because it was associated with impaired neuropsychological development in the fetus.  One study showed that children born to women with the highest TSH levels had lower IQ levels.  The other showed that children of women with isolated low free thyroid hormone levels performed worse on early psychomotor developmental tests. Together, these findings led several experts and professional organizations to recommend routine screening for and treatment of subclinical thyroid disease during pregnancy. Our study was designed to determine whether screening for either of these two diagnoses and treatment with thyroid hormone replacement during pregnancy actually improved IQ in children at 5 years of age. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, MRI, NEJM / 25.02.2017 Interview with: Robert Russo, MD, PhD, FACC The Scripps Research Institute The La Jolla Cardiovascular Research Institute What is the background for this study? Response: For an estimated 2 million people in the United States and an additional 6 million people worldwide, the presence of a non-MRI-conditional pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is considered a contraindication to magnetic resonance imaging. This creates a dilemma for at least half of these patients, who are predicted to require an MRI scan during their lifetime after a cardiac device has been implanted. Safety concerns for patients with an implanted cardiac device undergoing MRI are related to the potential for magnetic field-induced cardiac lead heating resulting in myocardial thermal injury, and a detrimental change in pacing properties. As a result, patients with an implanted device have long been denied access to MRI, although it may have been the most appropriate diagnostic imaging modality for their clinical care. Despite the development of MRI-conditional cardiac devices, a strategy for mitigating risks for patients with non MRI-conditional devices and leads will remain an enduring problem for the foreseeable future due to an ever increasing demand for MRI and the large number of previously and currently implanted non-MRI-conditional devices. (more…)
Author Interviews, NEJM, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 17.02.2017 Interview with: Carla M. Bann, Ph.D. Division of Statistical and Data Sciences RTI International Research Triangle Park, NC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Several medical advances have been made over the past two decades to improve the care and survival of infants born pre-term. However, approaches to care differ greatly among providers for infants born at the limits of viability (22 to 24 weeks gestation), far earlier than the 40 weeks generally expected for a pregnancy to reach full-term. Little is known about the outcomes of these infants, particularly whether those who survive experience significant neurodevelopmental impairments. RTI served as the data coordinating center for this research that examined the survival and neurodevelopmental impairment at 18-22 months corrected age of over 4,000 infants born at 22 to 24 weeks gestation during 2000 to 2011 at medical centers participating in a national research network funded by the NIH. In this group of babies, infant survival improved over time from survival rates of 30 percent in 2000-2003 to 36 percent in 2008-2011. The proportion of infants who survived without a neurodevelopmental impairment also increased from 16 percent in 2000-2003 to 20 percent in 2008-2011. (more…)
Author Interviews, CDC, NEJM, Zika / 16.02.2017 Interview with: Gabriela Paz-Bailey MD PhD Senior Epidemiologist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention What is the background for this study? Response: Zika virus is recognized as a cause of microcephaly and other severe birth defects when a woman is infected during pregnancy. Additionally, it has been associated with potentially fatal complications, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome. It is not well understood how often Zika virus particles can be detected in semen and other body fluids and for how long they remain detectable. Existing evidence is based on case reports and cross-sectional observations, primarily from returning travelers. A more comprehensive description of the dynamics of the early stages of Zika virus infection, observed within infected people over time, is needed to inform diagnostic testing as well as prevention recommendations and interventions. (more…)
Author Interviews, Heart Disease, NEJM, NIH, Pediatrics / 30.01.2017 Interview with: Victoria Pemberton, RNC, MS, CCRC Program Officer Division of Cardiovascular Sciences National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH Bethesda, Maryland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
  • Previous studies have examined cardiac arrest when it occurs outside of the hospital in both children and adults, with current guidelines recommending hypothermia (body cooling) or normothermia (maintenance of normal body temperature) after such an arrest.   This trial addresses pediatric cardiac arrest in a hospital setting, for which no previous data existed. Because children who experience an in-hospital cardiac arrest differ significantly from children who arrest outside of the hospital, it is important to test these treatments in this population.
  • The trial found no significant differences in survival and neurobehavioral functioning a year after cardiac arrest between children assigned to the hypothermia arm and those assigned to normothermia.
Author Interviews, NEJM, Smoking, Tobacco Research / 27.01.2017 Interview with: Andrew Hyland, PhD Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Karin Kasza, MA Senior Research Specialist in the Department of Health Behavior Roswell Park Cancer Institute What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The PATH Study is unique because it is a large, nationally representative study of more than 45,000 youth and adults who are interviewed at multiple points over time and asked about their use of a wide array of tobacco products. The data reported in this study are from the baseline wave, and we find that while cigarettes are by far the most commonly used product for both youth and adults, we see a lot of use of non-cigarette products. E-cigarettes trailed only cigarettes in popularity for youth and water pipe smoking was high among 18-24 year olds. However, we see different patterns of use for different products with cigarettes being used much more frequently that other products like e-cigarettes. Another surprising finding was that about 4 in 10 youth and adult tobacco users were currently using two or more tobacco products. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Immunotherapy, NEJM, Transplantation / 19.01.2017 Interview with: Kenar D. Jhaveri, MD Professor of Medicine Division of Kidney Diseases and Hypertension Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, 100 Community Drive, Great Neck, NY 11021 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The immune check point inhibitors are novel anti cancer agents being used rapidly in various cancers. Many cancers don’t allow our natural immune system to attack the cancer. These immunotherapy agents “activate” the immune system to attack the cancer. These agents have been reported to cause multiple end organ side effects as noted by this recent NYT article. We also recently reported the known renal effects of immunotherapy. In the kidney transplant patient who is on immunosuppressive agents, the physicians need to keep the immune system suppressed to preserve the kidney. When one of these agents are used for a cancer in a kidney transplant patient, prior reports have suggested severe rejection episodes and loss of the transplanted kidney. Our case in the NEJM is the first report of a preventive strategy used to allow for simultaneous treatment of cancer and preventive rejection of the kidney. We used a regimen of steroids and sirolimus( an anti-proliferative agent that is used to treat cancer and also is an immunosuppresant) along with the immunotherapy. The cancer started regressing and the kidney did not reject. (more…)