Week in Review: Nov. 24

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

Odds Are, They're Taking Your Blood Pressure All Wrong

When was the last time you were asked to sit without saying a word for five minutes before your blood pressure was measured? If your answer was, "I never remember doing that," you're in good company. Yet, that is one of the many rules that medical professionals are supposed to follow when measuring your blood pressure. Paul Whelton, a cardiovascular specialist at the Tulane University School of Public Health, says airplane pilots always run down a safety checklist before taking off. "We would be shocked if a pilot told us he was in a rush and just didn't have time to do it." Yet, he says clinicians aren't taking enough care to make an important measurement when it comes to health: reading blood pressure values. Via NPR.

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Heavier Women May Need Mammograms More Often

Women who are overweight or obese may need to be screened for breast cancer more frequently, new Swedish research suggests. The reason? Overweight or obese women are at greater risk of having breast cancer detected after the tumor has grown largeover two centimetersthan their slimmer counterparts, the study found. Heavier women also have a worse prognosis when their breast cancers are detected between regular cancer screenings (known as interval cancers) than normal weight women, the findings showed. Via HealthDay.

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Italian Doctor Says World's First Human Head Transplant "Imminent"

A controversial Italian doctor announced that the world’s first human head transplant was "imminent" and that it would take place in China because his efforts to get backing for the project were being ignored by medical communities and scientists in the United States and Europe. "The Americans did not understand," Sergio Canavero said in a press conference in Vienna, Austria. He was discussing a surgery that if it works will be an audacious and near-miraculous therapy that defies decades of scientific wisdom and raises profound ethical questions. It also represents another area in which Beijing is seeking to assume the mantle of global leadership from climate to economic governance. Michael Sarr, a former surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and the editor of the academic journal Surgery, said Canavero's procedure is radical because doctors "have always been taught that when you cut a nerve the "downstream side," the part that takes a signal and conducts it to somewhere else, dies. The "upstream side," the part that generates the signal, dies back a little—a millimeter or two—and eventually regrows. As long as that "downstream" channel is still there, it can regrow through that channel, but only for a length of about a foot." Via USA Today.

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Help Obese Kids Avoid Weight Stigma, Doctors Advise

Shaming kids about their weight doesn’t encourage them to shed excess pounds, U.S. doctors warn. In fact, it often has the opposite effect and contributes to behaviors like binge eating, inactivity, social isolation, and avoidance of routine medical checkups, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Obesity Society advise in a joint policy statement. “Keep it positive. We know that making change is tough, and patients will likely have trouble initially meeting some of their goals, but we can learn from these challenges and go from there,” said Dr. Stephen Pont, lead author of the statement and founding chair of the AAP Section on Obesity Executive Committee. Via Reuters.

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Risk of Stillbirth Is Double in Pregnant Women Who Sleep on Their Backs

Pregnant women might increase their risk of a stillbirth if they sleep on their backs during their third trimester, a new study has found. The research, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, is the largest of its kind and the clearest evidence yet that sleeping conditions during pregnancy could have significant effects on the fetus. Researchers compared the sleeping practices of more than 1,000 women in Britain, 291 of whom suffered a stillbirth in the third trimester and 733 of whom had a live birth during the same period. The study found that women sleeping on their backs had 2.3 times the risk of stillbirth. The results add to earlier findings in recent years from smaller studies in New Zealand and Australia. Via Washington Post.

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Mayo Clinic News

Hi-Tech Surgery Help at Mayo Clinic

Patients with neurological diseases need answers, therapies and cures tailored to their unique condition, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach that ignores an important reality: These diseases are complexsometimes confounding and always life-changing. Standard treatment optionsincluding surgery, radiation or chemotherapywork, but they don't work perfectly for all patients. No two patients are the same, and without treatment plans tailored to the individual, some patients may fall through the cracks. Mayo Clinic's goal is to deploy bold and personalized approaches to improve the lives of patients with neurological diseases. Mayo Clinic's Neurotherapeutics Innovation Program includes experts across the fields of neuroscience, mathematics, bioengineering, computer science, neurosurgery and advanced imaging analytics that work together and collaborate building our foundations of innovation. Via ABC 15 Arizona.

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Counting the Costs: U.S. Hospitals Feeling the Pain of Physician Burnout

Some leading health care executives now say the way medicine is practiced in the United States is to blame, fueled in part by growing clerical demands that have doctors spending two hours on the computer for every one hour they spend seeing patients. What's more, burnout is not just bad for doctors; it's bad for patients and bad for business, according to interviews with more than 20 healthcare executives, doctors and burnout experts. "This really isn't just about exercise and getting enough sleep and having a life outside the hospital," said Dr. Tait Shanafelt, a former Mayo Clinic researcher who became Stanford Medicine's first chief physician wellness officer in September. "It has at least as much or more to do with the environment in which these folks are practicing," he said. Via U.S. News & World Report.

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Chasing Diabetes' Connection to Pancreatic Cancer

Suresh Chari, M.D., a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, has studied the link between pancreatic cancer and diabetes for many years. He's found that people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes after age 50 have about a 1% chance of having pancreatic cancera rate that's eight times higher than in the general population. Now he's working with the National Cancer Institute on a five-year study to identify people with new-onset diabetes who are have a higher-than-normal chance of getting pancreatic cancer. The study will include about 10,000 people with high blood sugar, who will have blood tests every six months. "We're looking at finding ways to screen for pancreatic cancer, either in all of them or a subset of them," he says. Via WebMD.

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Blood-Brain Barrier Breakdown Common in RCVS

The findings are from a study first published in the Annals of Neurology and highlighted in a session at the American Headache Society 2017 Scottsdale Headache Symposium. "The study shows that in as many as 70% of patients classified as having RCVS, contrast-enhanced flare sequencing imaging showed this remarkable breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, indicating that there is activity at the capillary level and it often is present even in the absence of initial vasoconstriction," said presenter David W. Dodick, M.D., Professor of Neurology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Dr Dodick, who was not involved in the study, discussed the paper during the session. Via Medscape.

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Research Shows Newer Blood Thinners Have Lower Risk of Kidney Function Decline

About 3 million Americans have atrial fibrillation (A-fib). And while blood thinners can drastically decrease their stroke risk, new research shows the drugs could damage their kidneys. 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.