Week in Review: Dec. 29

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

Eat Your Vegetables: Nutrients in Leafy Greens May Help Prevent Dementia

Nutrients found in green leafy vegetables just might make your mind 11 years younger, according to a new study. Dementia, a decline in memory and cognitive function, is one of the most feared aspects of aging. But those who reported eating their vegetables seem to be more successful in staving it off. Researchers at Rush University and Tufts University studied 1,000 people and found that those who reported eating one to two daily servings of green leafy vegetables, such as kale, lettuce or spinach, had slower rates of cognitive decline. Via ABC News.

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Fueled by Drug Crisis, U.S. Life Expectancy Declines for a Second Straight Year

American life expectancy at birth declined for the second consecutive year in 2016, fueled by a staggering 21% rise in the death rate from drug overdoses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The United States has not seen two years of declining life expectancy since 1962 and 1963, when influenza caused an inordinate number of deaths. In 1993, there was a one-year drop during the worst of the AIDS epidemic. Via Washington Post.

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One Million People Have Caught Cholera in Yemen

Recently, the story of Yemen has been told in statistics: A brutal campaign of airstrikes by Saudi Arabia has killed 10,000. Eight million people—one-third of the population—are teetering on the brink of famine. Eighty percent of the country lacks access to food, fuel, clean water and health care. Even so, this number stands out: The International Committee of the Red Cross reported today that a million Yemenis have contracted cholera in the last 18 months. More than 2,000 have died, according to the United Nations. It's the largest cholera outbreak in world history. Via Washington Post.

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Why New Blood Pressure Guidelines Could Lead to Harm

In the week before Thanksgiving, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for the diagnosis and management of high blood pressure. The problem was not the guideline itself but some of the news coverage it prompted, with pronouncements that millions more Americans would need to lower blood pressure or that nearly half of Americans now had high blood pressure. A lot of the coverage made it sound as if something drastic had happened overnight. Nothing had. We just changed the definition of hypertension. High blood pressure, in general, is not something we should ignore. It’s a major risk factor for heart disease, second perhaps only to smoking, and people with hypertension often need to make changes to reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke. But, as is so often the case with medical news, matters are more complicated than the headlines or TV summaries. Via NY Times.

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Excessive Video Gaming to be Named Mental Disorder by WHO

The World Health Organization is adding an unexpected disorder to its list of mental health conditions in 2018. Next year, people who play an excessive amount of video games could find themselves diagnosed with "gaming disorder." WHO's beta draft of its upcoming 11th update of International Classification of Diseases characterizes gaming disorder as "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior ('digital gaming' or 'video-gaming'), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences." Via U.S. News & World Report.

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Mayo Clinic News

Nerve-Switch Surgery Restores Function of Paralyzed Arms in Small Study

Doctors in Shanghai say they have made paralyzed arms useful again by surgically swapping a nerve coming out of the spinal cord. Robert Spinner, M.D., Chairman of Neurosurgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said it’s possible the benefits were caused by simply cutting the bad nerve leading to the affected arm, a much simpler procedure than the nerve transfer surgery. “These results are very exciting because this is a very big problem in America and the world. The question really is, 'What’s causing the effect?'” he said in a telephone interview. “To cut the bad wire would be a lot easier than doing their procedure.” Via Reuters.

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Migraine Prevention: Lowest Effective Dose of New Drug Pinpointed

"It's always important to find the lowest effective dose and to confirm previous studies that reported on the efficacy and tolerability of galcanezumab," David Dodick, M.D., Professor of Neurology and Director of the Headache Program at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Chair of the American Migraine Foundation, told Medscape Medical News. Common treatment-related adverse events for the galcanezumab group vs. the placebo group included injection-site pain, upper respiratory tract infection, and nasopharyngitis—with most being mild to moderate in intensity. Via Medscape.

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My Way of Giving Back and Understanding

After Staci Mack's friend died of colon cancer, "Why?" was a question that never left her. Now, she's found a career where she'll be a small part of working toward answering that question each day. When a Minnesota woman is diagnosed with breast cancer at Mayo Clinic, those tests and the resulting diagnosis are entered into her medical records. That information is coded, triggering its delivery to a cancer registrar, who then picks through the file and inputs the data into a national registry. Staci is taking classes online through Rochester Community and Technical College's new program to become a cancer registrar. Via Post-Bulletin.

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Innovative Research to Fight Kidney Disease

More than 30 million Americans suffer from chronic kidney disease. It’s often referred to as the silent killer, because, in early stages of the disease, there are no symptoms. Chronic kidney disease can go undetected until it’s advanced. LaTonya Hickson, M.D., a Mayo Clinic nephrologist and researcher, is working to slow down the disease progression of one of the most common causes of kidney failure: diabetic kidney disease. Dr. Hickson says Mayo Clinic is one of the main groups investigating stem cells to see if they are able to help repair the kidney, particularly in chronic kidney disease. Via Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman.

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Greater Access to Donated Livers Promised to Transplant Patients

The organization, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), decided to slightly loosen the geographic boundaries that determine how organs are matched to patients. The move will improve the chances for the sickest patients awaiting new livers in regions where they were previously most scarce. Julie Heimbach, M.D., the chair of the committee that advanced the final proposal, said it deeply divided the transplant community. The revised system is a compromise, she said, but one that will significantly shorten wait times for the most desperately ill patients. “It’s been a very long and arduous path,” said Dr. Heimbach, who is a surgical director at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Not acting, some UNOS members said, could have prompted intervention by the federal government, potentially jeopardizing the organization’s autonomy. Via NY Times.

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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.