News

Marketing intelligence firms that serve pharmaceutical companies apply sophisticated networking and data analytics to inform their clients about the prescribing habits of physicians as well as patient behavior. “Doctors tend not to be aware of the depths to which they are being analyzed and studied by people trying to sell them drugs and other medical products,” Jerry Avorn, MD, chief of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in a New York Times article.

Vincent L. Gott, MD, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins Heart & Vascular Institute in Baltimore, shares his experiences as a developer of the pacemaker in an interview with CNN. The feature is part of CNN’s “Life Works” series.

Richard Lifton, MD, PhD, chair of the genetics department at Yale University, and Jonathan R. Kaltman, MD, chief of the Heart Development and Structural Diseases Branch at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, discuss genetic causes of heart disease in a video.  Findings from the research team’s large-scale sequencing analysis of congenital heart disease were published online May 12 in Nature. 

The New York Times published a feature article that detailed a research effort to unravel the genetic underpinnings of cardiovascular disease. Members of one family with a history of heart-related deaths have agreed to participate in the study.

Michael S. Emery, MD, a cardiologist at Carolina Cardiology Consultants in Greenville, S.C., shares his experiences as a medical volunteer at the Boston Marathon in a post on the American College of Cardiology’s blog, ACC in Touch. “Even though I’m a cardiologist and not trained to handle trauma, it really was about the basics of care – stabilize and evacuate!” Emery is co-chair-elect of the American College of Cardiology’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Section Leadership Council.

Michael J. Ackerman, MD, PhD, and Pedro J. Caraballo, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., described in a video the development of an alert system that flags QT-level prolongation that may indicate a patient is at risk of sudden cardiac death. In a paper published in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, they reported the institution-wide system is a noninvasive marker of mortality. Ackerman said the next step is to determine if the alert modifies physician behavior to provide potentially lifesaving interventions.

As we approach the summer season of doomsday movies in all their cinematic gore-y, it may be no surprise that nuclear catastrophe enters into a few imaginations. But at the FDA, it is science and not science fiction that is under discussion as the agency reviews an animal study on Amgen’s leukocyte growth factors as a nuclear countermeasure. The FDA will discuss whether a human study is warranted on May 3. The Bloomberg article includes a link to the FDA backgrounder.

The New York Times featured Advocate Health Care, a nonprofit based in Oak Brook, Ill., in an article that details cost savings and improved quality achieved using an accountable care model. The effort is not without its own costs, though. Advocate “hired scores of workers to coordinate care and keep an eye on the highest-cost patients.”

Surgeons and biomedical engineers at the University of Minnesota collaborated to create an animated 3D model of the human heart based on computational technology and imaging techniques such as contrast CT. A demonstration of an anatomical reconstruction of the cardiac venous system and the process to make the models was published April 18 in the Journal of Visualized Experiments. To view the video, click here.

NPR’s “All Things Considered” interviewed C. Michael Gibson, MD, about his experiences treating victims of the explosions at the Boston Marathon. Gibson, a cardiologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, credited the medical teams in the field and the proximity of the emergency tent for stabilizing the wounded. “[They] may have saved innumerable lives,” he said.

The New York Times revisited the controversy over chelation therapy, allowing the TACT (Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy) lead investigator Gervasio A. Lamas, MD, to share his observations: “If you had asked any cardiologist, to a man or to a woman, they would have said this study would be negative, and that included me and my associates. But it wasn’t, and that’s the one thing we should be focusing on.” Cardiology guru Eric Topol, MD, also weighs in.

Darwin Labarthe, MD, MPH, PhD, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, proposes that an emphasis on cardiovascular health rather than cardiovascular disease heralds a “positive health” revolution. In a blog post on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s website, he discusses the idea of health assets.