Week in Review: Sept. 18


The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

Lower Blood Pressure Guidelines Could Be ‘Lifesaving,’ Federal Study Says 

Declaring they had “potentially lifesaving information,” federal health officials said that they were ending a major study more than a year early because it has already conclusively answered a question cardiologists have puzzled over for decades: How low should blood pressure go? Via NY Times.

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Four Pentagon Labs Face Inquiry on Handling of Deadly Germs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating four Defense Department labs for mishandling deadly germs used in bioterrorism research. The mistakes involve anthrax, plague, and viruses that cause encephalitis, which are studied by the military to defend against their potential use as biological weapons. There is no evidence that anyone has been harmed by the errors or that there is any risk to the public, officials say. But bioterrorism experts say that there should be zero tolerance because the organisms are so dangerous, and that even seemingly small mistakes, like flaws in record-keeping, could have calamitous results. Via NY Times. 

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Panel Says Aspirin Lowers Heart Attack Risk For Some, But Not All 

Millions of Americans take baby aspirin every day to prevent a heart attack or stroke. If they are at high risk of heart disease, they're doing the right thing, according to draft recommendations issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The independent panel also said that taking low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years may also protect against colorectal cancer, at least in people who are already taking it to prevent heart attacks and stroke. Via NPR.

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Under Pressure, Hospitals Push Physicians To Improve Their Bedside Manners

A doctor’s training hasn’t historically focused on sensitivity. And too often while juggling heavy workloads and high stress, they can be viewed as brusque, condescending or inconsiderate. A 2011 study, for instance, found barely more than half of recently hospitalized patients said they experienced compassion when getting health care, despite widespread agreement among doctors and patients that kindness is valuable and important. Via Kaiser Health News.

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CDC Reveals Just How Much Fast Food American Kids Eat Each Day 

More than one in three American kids will eat fast food today, a new government report says. The same will be true tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. On any given day, 34.3 percent of U.S. children and teens between the ages of 2 and 19 eats pizza, fried chicken, tacos, or some other dish prepared in a fast-food restaurant, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Via LA Times.

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Mayo Clinic News

New Treatments for Deadly Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis leads to a buildup of scar tissue that makes it increasingly difficult for the lungs to function normally and provide the body with oxygen. The disease has no known cause, setting it apart from related pulmonary diseases where doctors can identify specific irritants or exposures to toxins such as asbestos. “Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is usually a progressive disease, but its course varies widely among individual patients,” says Teng Moua, a physician in the division of pulmonary and critical care at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “As the disease has become more well-known, we are finding it earlier and making attempts to slow it down and manage it.” Via Wall Street Journal.

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Mayo Clinic Awarded $13.3 Million Grant to Test Cancer Vaccine

The Mayo Clinic has received a $13.3 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Defense's Breast Cancer Research Program to fund a clinical trial. Researchers believe they now have a vaccine that could bring new found hope to those who have been told in the past that there are no targeted therapies for the disease they're fighting. "What we want to do is intervene during that period between conventional therapy and when they relapse and see if we can boost the body's immune defenses to fight off that relapse," said Dr. Keith Knutson in the Department of Immunology at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus. Via First Coast News.

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Pres. Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative, The Human Genome Project, And Your Individualized Genetic Data

When President Obama announced in his State of the Union Address on Jan. 20, 2015 that the White House, through the National Institutes of Health, would allocate a $215 million investment into a Precision Medicine Initiative, Mayo Clinic rejoiced. Mayo’s Center For Individual Medicine practices under the term “individualized medicine,” but whether it’s referred to as “personalized,” “precision,” or “individualized,” the future of medicine is clearly moving toward one goal: tailoring the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease to specific patients through the use of the most advanced technologies available. Via Medical Daily.

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Skip the Anti-Bacterial Soap: Regular Suds Work Just as Well 

Regular soap is just as effective as anti-bacterial soap at getting rid of germs through hand washing, a new study finds. In both the lab and the real-life trials, regular soap performed just as well as anti-bacterial soap, which contained the controversial chemical triclosan, according to the study from researchers in South Korea, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. Via Live Science.

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Sifting DNA Databases for the Right Diagnosis 

Genetic analysts can now more quickly identify rare illnesses. DNA sequencing and analysis needs to be better standardized to make it more reliable, says Dusica Babovic-Vuksanovic, chair of medical genetics at the Mayo Clinic. Part of that process, she says, involves getting more organizations to build or join larger databases. Another part is keeping eager doctors from making promises they can’t keep. “The tests are fairly complicated and very new,” she says. “Someone who understands what these tests can and cannot do should be involved.” Via Bloomberg.

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Kelley Schreiber

Kelley Schreiber is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her new kitten, and exploring new foods.