Week in Review: April 28

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

Stroke Rates Appear to Be Rising Steadily in Young

The rate of stroke among young people has apparently been rising steadily since 1995, according to a study published this week. Hospitalization rates for stroke increased for women between the ages of 18 and 44, and nearly doubled for men in that age range from 1995 through 2012. Using more-detailed data for 2003 through 2012, the researchers found that rates of hospitalizations for acute ischemic stroke increased by nearly 42% for men 35 to 44, while rates for women of the same age group increased by 30% over the same time, according to a study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. Via Washington Post.

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"They’re Just Hiding": Experts Say Puerto Rico May Be Underreporting Zika-Affected Birth

The number of babies born in Puerto Rico with microcephaly and other birth defects caused by the Zika virus appears to be unexpectedly low—so low that experts are beginning to question whether the actual count is being significantly underreported by authorities on the island. As Zika surged across the Americas last year, U.S. health authorities warned that Puerto Rico was facing a perfect storm—and braced for a large number of pregnancies affected by the virus. But, to date, Puerto Rico has reported only 16 cases of congenital defects associated with Zika, even though more than 3,300 pregnant women are known to have contracted the virus and several times that number are believed to have been infected. Via STAT.

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Are Gen Xers, Boomers Suffering Serious Psychological Distress?

Serious psychological distress refers to a mental health problem that is severe enough to require treatment. People in serious psychological distress are 3 times more likely to be too poor to afford general health care, and 10 times more likely to be too poor to pay for medications, compared with people who are not mentally ill, according to research published in the journal Psychiatric Services. Judith Weissman, lead author of the study and a research manager at New York University's Langone Medical Center, found that 3.4% of adult Americans, or more than 8.3 million people, suffered serious psychological distress in 2014. Nearly a decade earlier, only 3% or less were reported to have suffered in the same way. Via CNN.

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Winning the War against Ancient Diseases

The World Health Organization is on track to meet its goals to control, eliminate, or eradicate sleeping sickness, Chagas and other ancient illnesses by 2020. At the Global Partners' Meeting in Geneva, WHO recognized the goals set forth in the Neglected Tropical Diseases Roadmap and the achievements of the past decade. One billion people were treated in 2015 for neglected tropical diseases, which blind, maim, disfigure, and debilitate hundreds of millions of people on the planet, according to the new WHO report. Via CNN.

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FDA Approval of Hepatitis C Drugs for Kids Is Likely to Speed Treatment

With the approval this month of two drugs to treat hepatitis C in children, these often overlooked victims of the opioid epidemic now have a better chance at a cure. Kids may actually have an easier time than adults getting approved for the treatment, according to some health policy specialists. Researchers estimate that 23,000 to 46,000 children in the United States are infected with hepatitis C, a blood-borne infection that causes inflammation of the liver and can lead to liver failure, cancer, and death. Most of the estimated 2.7 million to 3.9 million people overall who have chronic hepatitis C in the U.S. got it from sharing needles and other equipment while injecting opioids or other illicit drugs or (especially in earlier decades) from transfusions of contaminated blood. Via NPR.

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Mayo Clinic News

Different Risks for Amyloid, Neurodegeneration

Different factors appear to protect against amyloid deposition and neurodegeneration, the two hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, according to an analysis from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. Aside from the known risk factors of older age, female gender, and APOE status, only midlife dyslipidemia was associated with amyloid deposition—while midlife obesity, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac and metabolic conditions were tied to neurodegeneration, according to Prashanthi Vemuri, Ph.D., a diagnostic radiologist from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues. Via MedPage Today.

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Medical Lab Sciences Program Is Good Discovery for Students

For Reilly Steidle, a senior from Naperville, Illinois, the path to MLS began after trying to discover the cause of her own illness. Weakened by a mysterious illness, Steidle considering leaving NIU. Then, she got word at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, would take her case. After many weeks of testing, she learned her diagnosis: Lyme disease. The care she received turned her thoughts to a science career. "My academic advisor told me about MLS, and said, 'If you are thinking about a science, this has a lot of utility,'" Steidle said. “I wanted to improve the process of getting a diagnosis. Because Mayo had done that for me, it was my dream to work at an institution like that.” Via NIU Today.

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Opioid Use Common Even after Minor Surgery

While the study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove how certain types of surgery or a history of certain habits or medical conditions might cause chronic opioid use, the findings add to evidence suggesting that prolonged opioid use after surgery might not be due to pain from operations, the authors conclude. “Smoking and substance misuse have been previously associated with use of greater dosages of opioids and opioid misuse due, in part, to shared neurobiological mechanisms,” said W. Michael Hooten, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota. “In this particular study, the findings suggest that patients with pain prior to surgery were possibly treating other non-surgical sources of pain during the postoperative period using (drugs) initially prescribed for post-operative pain,” Dr. Hooten, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. Via Reuters.

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MRI Pioneer, Mayo Clinic Researcher Richard Ehman Honored as Elite U.S. Inventor

Mayo Clinic radiologist, researcher, and entrepreneur Richard Ehman, M.D., recognized this month as one of U.S. academia’s top inventors, says that of all his accomplishments as a pioneer in the development of magnetic resonance imaging technology, what matters most to him is how patients have benefited from his creations. “When I started out in medicine as a doctor, I never really saw myself as being an ‘inventor,’” Ehman told TCB after his selection as one of 175 National Academy of Inventors fellows for 2016, the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors whose work has been judged to have “made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and welfare of society.” Via Twin Cities Business.

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New Study Identifies Way to Treat Sports-Related Concussions Using Telemedicine

An estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries occur every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 75% of the injuries are sports-related mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions. Doctors at Mayo Clinic, in collaboration with the Northern Arizona University football team, conducted a study, Feasibility and Accuracy of Teleconcussion for Acute Evaluation of Suspected Concussion, which was recently published in the journal Neurology. The study, funded by Mayo Clinic, focuses on concussion specialists using telemedicine technology to determine if a player needs to be removed from play in real time. 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.