Week in Review: Nov. 13

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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

Scientists Breach Brain Barrier to Treat Sick Patient

For the first time, doctors have breached the human brain's protective layer to deliver cancer-fighting drugs. The Canadian team used tiny gas-filled bubbles, injected into the bloodstream of a patient, to punch temporary holes in the blood-brain barrier. A beam of focused ultrasound waves applied to the skull made the bubbles vibrate and push their way through, along with chemotherapy drugs. Six to 10 more patients will undergo the same procedure as part of a trial. Via BBC.

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Getting Your Blood Pressure Even Lower: Here are the Risks and Rewards 

Two months ago, U.S. officials crowed that a federally funded study gauging the impact of stricter blood pressure control had produced such dramatic results, they were bringing the clinical trial to an early close. Recently, those dramatic results got medicine's version of a ticker-tape parade: a research article and not one but three editorials in the New England Journal of Medicine detailed and dissected just how steeply heart disease, strokes, and deaths from any cause declined in patients who aimed to get their systolic blood pressure reading to 120 mm of mercury. Via LA Times. 

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Wealthy Transplant Recipients May Have an Edge

Wealthy patients may have an advantage over those most in need when it comes to receiving organ transplants in the United States, a new study contends. That's because registering at multiple transplant centers -- which is more likely to be done by wealthy people with private insurance -- can improve the chances of getting a new organ, the researchers said. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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Public Housing Nationwide May Be Subject to Smoking Ban

Smoking would be prohibited in public housing homes nationwide under a proposed federal rule announced, a move that would affect nearly one million households and open the latest front in the long-running campaign to curb unwanted exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. The ban, by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, would also require that common areas and administrative offices on public housing property be smoke-free. Via NY Times.

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Use of Long-Acting Birth Control Methods Surges Among U.S. Women

The share of American women on birth control who use long-acting reversible methods like intrauterine devices and implants has nearly doubled in recent years, the federal government reported. The share of women on birth control who use the devices rose to 11.6 percent in the period from 2011 to 2013, up from 6 percent in 2006 to 2010, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The share is still smaller than for the pill (26 percent) or condoms (15 percent), but it is the fastest-growing method. In 2002, just 2.4 percent of women on birth control in the United States used the long-acting methods. Via NY Times.

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Mayo Clinic News

Advising People About Heart Risk Genes Helped Cut Cholesterol

In the study presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando, Florida, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, tested the theory that incorporating genetic risk information into an assessment of a person's heart disease risk could lead to lower levels of LDL, the portion of cholesterol that leads to heart attacks and stroke. "What we found is six months after the risk disclosure, the LDL cholesterol in those who got the genetic risk information was about 10 points lower, which was statistically significant," said Dr. Iftikhar Kullo, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist who led the study. Via Reuters.

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Belly Fat May Be More Dangerous for the Heart Than Obesity

No one would mistake a beer gut for a sign of health. But a new study finds that carrying extra pounds around the middle can be dangerous even for people with an overall healthy weight. In a 14-year study of more than 15,000 people, normal-weight men with big bellies were twice as likely to die compared to men who were obese. Women with normal weights and big bellies were 32 percent more likely to die during the study than obese women, according to the study, led by Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. Via USA Today.

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Just One Energy Drink Sends Young Adults' Stress Hormone Levels Soaring

Just one energy drink can cause potentially harmful spikes in both stress hormone levels and blood pressure in young, healthy adults, a new study shows. After drinking a 16-ounce can of "Rockstar Punched," young adults had a 74 percent increase in blood levels of the "fight-or-flight" hormone norepinephrine, said lead researcher Dr. Anna Svatikova, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Via HealthDay.

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Mayo Developing Blood Test For Concussion Detection 

Days after the Vikings’ quarterback took a major hit to the head, new research suggests there may be a new way to detect concussions by way of a simple blood test. Researchers at Orlando Health found that a blood test correctly identified traumatic brain injuries in 94 percent of the cases studied. According to Dr. Jonathan Finnoff, who specializes in sports medicine at the Mayo Clinic, “You essentially stun the nerves in your brain, and so they’re temporarily not working,” Finnoff said during a concussion. Via WCCO.

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Mayo Clinic Awarded $5.3 Million Federal Grant to Study Vascular Risk Factors in Dementia

Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus was awarded a $5.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to identify vascular risk factors in aging and dementia, and translate that knowledge into studying potential targets for treatment. The grant is one of the first awarded as part of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which called for an aggressive and coordinated national Alzheimer’s disease plan. The first goal of the national plan is to prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. Via Mayo Clinic News Network. 

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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.