Week in Review: April 21

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

Got Gray Hair? You Could Get Heart Disease, Too

The gray hairs on a man's head could point to heart problems, new research shows. A study presented this month at a cardiology conference in Europe links gray hair with an increased risk of heart disease in men, independent of age or other risk factors. And while doctors haven't confirmed a cause-and-effect link, further research could allow gray hair to serve as a predictor of heart problems. The hardening and narrowing of one's arteries, called atherosclerosis, and the graying of hair both rely on similar mechanisms, the study's authors said. Those include impaired DNA repair, inflammation, hormonal changes, and oxidative stress. Via USA Today.

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Up to 50,000 Cases of Cholera Expected in Somalia by Summer: WHO

More than 25,000 people in famine-threatened Somalia have been struck by cholera or acute watery diarrhea and the deadly epidemic should double by this summer, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said. The United Nations is already racing to avoid a repeat of famine in the drought-hit Horn of African nation where more than 250,000 people died of starvation in 2011. Cholera, which is endemic in Somalia, is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. Malnourished children under five years are especially vulnerable. Via Huffington Post.

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Texas Mumps Cases Hit 20-Year High

Mumps cases have hit a 20-year high in Texas and the highly contagious virus is infecting spring break travelers to popular beaches, state health officials said. The virus is rarely deadly but it can cause discomfort as salivary glands swell up. It can also cause deafness and, very rarely, dangerous encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. The Department of State Health Services issued an advisory to doctors and clinics about the outbreak. "State, regional, and local health departments are currently investigating multiple outbreaks throughout the state, including one involving possible exposures on South Padre Island, a popular spring break destination for students from Texas and elsewhere in the United States," the state health department said. Via NBC News.

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Mental Illness Is on the Rise but Access to Care Keeps Dwindling

More Americans than ever before are experiencing mental health problems, yet access to treatment for those issues is becoming more difficult to receive, a new study has found. A new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey shows that serious psychological distress, or SPD, defined as severe sadness and depressive symptoms that interfere with a person’s physical wellbeing, is on the rise just as resources for mental health treatment are declining. Researchers from NYU’s Langone Medical Center analyzed almost a decade’s worth of data and found that more than 8.3 million Americans―or an estimated 3.4% of the adult population―suffer from a serious mental health issue. Via Huffington Post.

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Disease Outbreaks Also Pose "Tremendous Threats to Business," Former CDC Chief Warns

The world has faced a string of infectious disease threats in the past dozen or so years, with SARS, bird flu, swine flu, MERS, and Ebola wreaking havoc. Yet despite the abundance of evidence that microbes pose major threats, both to human health and economies, global preparedness is not where it needs to be, Dr. Julie Gerberding warned this week. Gerberding was a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—a post she held during the 2003 SARS outbreak. She is now Merck’s executive vice president for strategic communications, global health policy, and population health.Via STAT.

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Mayo Clinic News

Value-Based Model for IBD Improves Outcomes, Lowers Costs

Sunanda Kane, M.D., an IBD specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said apart from the magnitude of the savings, the findings did not surprise her. “We know from work done in Pittsburgh that a minority of patients make up the majority of the costs and that a medical home is cost saving,” Dr. Kane said. “Having patients know that there is someone they can contact if sick and that they will be seen certainly reduces the chance that they would turn to an ER for care.” Via Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News.

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Researchers Report another Success in Using Electrical Stimulation to Restore Voluntary Movement in a Patient with Paralysis

Researchers from Mayo Clinic announced that they have successfully replicated an earlier study that used spinal-cord electrical stimulation to help an individual intentionally move his paralyzed legs. The latest success, reported in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, was achieved in less than 2 weeks after beginning the stimulation program, and included 22 weeks of extensive physical therapy beforehand. Authors of the study include Meegan Van Straaten, P.T., and Megan Gill, P.T., D.P.T., N.C.S. Via PT in Motion.

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Mayo Plans "Training and Command Center"

Mayo Clinic plans to turn one of Rochester's 41st Street Professional Campus buildings into "a training and command center" for the $1.5 billion upgrade of electronic medical records. Permits were filed this week to revamp the empty 3055 41st Street NW building into the "Plummer Training Center." While the Plummer Center is not an official title, the nickname does reflect Dr. Henry Plummer's pioneering work creating a central medical records system for Mayo Clinic. "The West building will be used for a training and command center for our electronic medical record migration over the next 1 1/2 years," wrote Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Rhoda Fukushima Madson in response to questions about the project. Via Post-Bulletin.

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Medical Research Plays an Important Role in Meeting Patient Needs

Ingenuity, innovation, and hard work have been the key drivers of our state’s economic destiny. The support of state and federal governments, the private sector and philanthropy must continue to advance research, promote discovery and develop the next generation of scientists and innovators. This is vital to solve the threats to public health while maximizing the tremendous economic benefit of innovation for Florida’s communities. Mayo Clinic is a committed partner in accelerating Florida’s economy. While the NIH budget over the past decade has remained flat with the exception of some targeted funding from the 21st Century Cures Act, Mayo Clinic has doubled our investment in research. Right now we are testing a vaccine that could become a gold standard therapy and prevent recurrence of breast cancer, and testing drugs that starve cancers. We also are developing mechanisms for the body’s immune system to protect itself from cancer. Via Florida-Times Union.

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Mayo Clinic Researchers Refine Genes Responsible for Breast Cancer Development

Mayo Clinic researchers have refined a panel of genes they believe play a role in the development of breast cancer. The researchers say they hope their efforts eventually will help physicians more accurately identify which women may benefit from enhanced breast cancer screening. Their findings are published in JAMA Oncology. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She manages public relations and media outreach. Gina has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011. Outside of work, Gina is going for gold in volleyball at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo . . . or at small-town summer festivals.