Scripps Tips- April 2007

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

New Scripps Genomic Medicine Program Takes Shape as Gene-Based Medicine Reaches the National Agenda
Congress is on the verge of passing federal legislation designed to prohibit genetic discrimination, which would make it illegal to deny health insurance or employment to healthy Americans based solely on their potential to develop an illness in the future. At the same time, Mike Leavitt, U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, has announced $277 million to fund “personalized health care” initiatives based on genomic research.Dr. Eric J. Topol, director of the new Scripps Genomic Medicine Program is available to comment on the current national focus on finding personalized medical treatments for disease based on genomic research. Scripps Genomic Medicine Program will support basic research and clinical programs focused on defining the genes that underlie susceptibility to disease, and take these findings into drug discovery programs and ultimately into clinical trials.To schedule an interview, please contact Don Stanziano at stanziano.don@scrippshealth.org.

Study Finds Californians Now Working Later in Life: Scripps Health Offers Special Employee Benefits to Adapt to an Aging Workforce
The proportion of Californians ages 55 to 69 who are employed increased considerably between 1995 and 2006, according to an April 2007 report by the California Budget Project.To attract and retain its mature workforce, Scripps Health of San Diego offers a number of benefits, including a phased retirement option that allows eligible employees to cut down on their hours while keeping full medical benefits.Scripps has been selected by AARP as one of the 50 Best Employers for Workers Over 50 in America for the past three years.Scripps Senior Vice President of Human Resources Victor Buzachero is available to discuss how Scripps is adapting to today’s aging workforce.For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Steve Carpowich at carpowich.stephen@scrippshealth.org.

Lifestyle Change Program Reverses Heart Disease
Suzanne Weeks was the healthiest person in her neighborhood, until she had a heart attack at the age of 41. She had no signs or symptoms of heart disease and no family history. Her cholesterol and other labs were perfect, she was in normal weight range, was vegetarian and was very active. After receiving five stents, she joined the Healing Hearts program at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. This ground-breaking 12-week lifestyle change program, unique to Scripps, helped Suzanne learn that stress was a major contributor to her heart attack. She also learned she had a genetic predisposition to heart disease. Today, she has a new lease on life with a focus on heart disease prevention. She is managing her stress, using food as medicine and has a new perspective on health. “Health is more than the absence of disease,” says Suzanne. “I now see my life and my health as a gift and a journey of awareness. My health has my undivided attention.” [New study to be published in The New England Journal of Medicine April 12, compares lifestyle changes to surgical interventions.] For more information please contact Anna-Maja Dahlgren at dahlgren.anna-maja@scrippshealth.org.

Hospitalizations for Heart Attacks on the Decline
The number of patients hospitalized for heart attacks, or acute myocardial infarctions (AMI) has declined considerably.According to a study recently published in The American Journal of Cardiology, the number of heart attack patients hospitalized between 2002 and 2005 declined by 70,000 patients nationally.The reason could be lower smoking rates and an increased use of aspirin and statins.Cardiologist Matthew Lucks of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla is available to comment. To schedule an interview, please contact Lisa Ohmstede at ohmstede.lisa@scrippshealth.org.

Cardiac Health: Stents or Medication for Chest Pain?
A recent study is calling into question the effectiveness of stents for the treatment of chest pain without symptoms of a heart attack. The results of the study found that drugs were just as good for preventing heart attacks and death in these elective cases.Cardiologist Jerrold Glassman, M.D., chief of staff and chief of cardiology at Scripps Mercy Hospital, is available to discuss this issue. To arrange and interview with Dr. Glassman, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at reinhardt.kristin@scrippshealth.org

Scripps Health Makes Enhancements to Health IT System, Paving Way to Improved Patient Safety & Consumer Choice
Scripps Health is using the power of technology to help improve health care, for both patients and caregivers.To give consumers more information about the quality of care it provides, Scripps Health recently began posting clinical care scores on its Web site (www.scripps.org) for each of its five hospital campuses, in the areas of heart attack care, heart failure care and pneumonia care (surgical care will soon be added).Scripps also is implementing the latest generation of electronic medical record (EMR) technology, which will enable Scripps to further enhance the quality and safety of patient care.Scripps’ EMR technology provides a variety of “medical intelligence” functions, such as electronic cross-checking for drug interactions when medications are prescribed.For more information or to schedule an interview with Scripps Health Chief Information Officer Drexel DeFord, please contact Steve Carpowich at carpowich.stephen@scrippshealth.org.

Women Prone to Heart Disease May Benefit from Long-Term Aspirin Use
Taking low to moderate doses of aspirin may lower women’s risk of all-cause mortality, particularly those with multiple cardiac risk factors, according to a study published recently in the Archives of Internal Medicine. In the 24-year study of nearly 80,000 women, the aspirin-takers had a 38 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease – the number one killer of women. While many physicians currently recommend that women who have suffered a heart attack take 81 milligrams of aspirin daily, the new study suggests aspirin may help healthy women too. The use of aspirin for one to five years was associated with significant reductions in cardiovascular mortality. Early detection and prevention are central in the fight against heart disease, Scripps Clinic Cardiologist Katherine Ludington, M.D., is available to discuss this recent finding. To arrange an interview with Dr. Ludington please contact Johnny Hagerman at Hagerman.johnny@scrippshealth.org.

Scripps Offers Perspective to Conflicting Mammogram Guidelines
The American College of Physicians (ACP) recently said that mammograms shouldn’t be recommended for all women in their 40s. Instead, the ACP said doctors and their patients should consider a woman’s risk of breast cancer along with the risks and benefits of mammograms before scheduling the test. The position of the ACP, which represents some 120,000 internists across the country, is at odds with other recommendations, including those of the American Cancer Society, which suggests annual mammograms for all healthy women age 40 and older. Dr. Mary Wilde, medical director of the Scripps Polster Breast Care Center is available for comment on this topic. To schedule an interview, please contact Lisa Ohmstede at ohmstede.lisa@scrippshealth.org.

Mind-Body Medicine Approaches for People with Cancer
Scripps Cancer Center and Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine will host a free community health education event for people with cancer who want to get the latest information about evidence-based mind-body medicine*Monday, April 9 from 10 a.m. – noon* in the Great Hall of the Schaetzel Center at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.Physicians, nurses and other practitioners will be on hand to answer questions and demonstrate healing treatments. During a brief presentation, board-certified family practice physician, David Leopold, M.D., DABFM, of Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine will talk about some evidence-based, mind-body treatments that have been shown to help manage side-effects of conventional cancer treatments. For more information or to cover this event, please contact Anna-Maja Dahlgren at dahlgren.anna-maja@scrippshealth.org.

Scripps Partners with Cardinal Health to Help War Refugees in Sudan
In collaboration with Cardinal Health, Scripps donated 500 doses of antibiotics to help war refugees in southern Sudan fight the meningitis epidemic currently sweeping the country.An infection that affects the thin lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord, meningitis is potentially fatal. Scripps physician Peter Aldrich, M.D., recently returned from a 10-day visit to the Sudanese village that received the vaccines – a village with virtually zero medical care. He treated 200 patients a day with the help of a nurse, physician’s assistant and a few translators. “We really are their only lifeline between death and life,” he said. Dr. Aldrich is available for interviews about his experience and has photographs to share. To schedule an interview please contact Jaime Szefc at szefc.jaime@scrippshealth.org.

Drinking and Driving Don’t Mix
April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Studies show that alcohol is involved in 40 percent of all fatal accidents and is the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents and just one alcoholic drink will impair your judgment, depth perception and motor function. Driving in this condition can create tragic results. To arrange an interview on this subject with Davis Cracroft, M.D., emergency room physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at reinhardt.kristin@scrippshealth.org.

Erectile Dysfunction An Early Warning Sign of Heart Disease
Recent studies show that erectile dysfunction, or ED, may be one of the earliest warning signs of heart disease, giving men as much as three years’ notice before more serious symptoms show up. The American Journal of Medicine reported in February that ED is particularly common among men with one or more cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, and strongly associated with lack of exercise. The good news is that ED may be an early enough warning sign that men have time to help their hearts. Scripps La Jolla cardiologists and urologists are available to comment. To schedule an interview, please contact Lisa Ohmstede at ohmstede.lisa@scrippshealth.org.