Scripps Tips - November

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

Scripps Leads First-Ever Research Study To Assess Impact of Personal Genetic Testing

Does getting a personal gene scan prompt people to change the way they eat, exercise and seek medical care? Scripps Translational Science Institute is leading a first-of-its-kind research study to assess the behavioral impact of personal genetic testing on people who receive such screenings to identify their risk for developing certain diseases. Through the end of 2008, the study is offering state-of-the-art genetic scans at significantly discounted prices to up to 10,000 employees, family members and friends of the nonprofit Scripps Health system and will assess participants’ behavioral changes over a 20-year period. Study participants age 18 and older can receive a scan of their genome and a detailed analysis of their genetic risk for more than 20 health conditions that may be changed by lifestyle, including diabetes, obesity, heart attack and some forms of cancer. Safeguards are in place to protect the privacy of participants. For an interview with the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Eric Topol, and study participants, please contact Steve Carpowich at 858-678-7183 or

Racing to cure diabetes…
November is American Diabetes Month

On Nov. 21, the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute will host “Team Type 1," a cycling group of athletes all of whom have Type 1 diabetes. Team Type 1 was created in 2004 to inspire people living with diabetes to take a proactive approach to managing their health and overcoming the obstacles often associated with the condition. In 2006 and 2007, the squad won the eight-rider team division of the Race Across America and finished runner-up in 2008 while consisting solely of athletes who have Type 1 diabetes. The public is invited to hear their journey of managing diabetes while biking across the United States. The event will take place on Friday, Nov. 21, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in front of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, 9888 Genesee Ave. For more information about this event, please contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142, or

New option for heart patients too sick for surgery
Non-Surgical Heart Valve Replacement Clinical Trial Begins at Scripps

Cardiologists and surgeons at Scripps are investigating a procedure that could potentially improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of heart patients suffering with severe aortic stenosis. They are participating in an FDA-approved clinical trial designed to determine the safety and efficacy of a transcather aortic valve placement in patients who are high risk for traditional open heart surgery. The valve can be placed via a catheter inserted through an artery in the patient’s leg or directly through the left ventricle of the heart—eliminating the need for a major incision in the chest.

Annually, about 200,000 people in the United States need heart valve replacement, but nearly half of them do not receive one because the patients are too sick to tolerate conventional open heart surgery. Scripps cardiologists are trying to determine if the novel transcatheter procedure could become a new treatment option for valve replacement that’s less invasive, safer and more cost effective than conventional heart surgery for high risk patients.

Available for Interview:
• Paul Teirstein, M.D., Chief of Cardiology, Scripps Clinic – Co-Principal Investigator
• Scot Brewster, M.D., Immediate Past Chief of Surgery, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla – Co-Principal Investigator
• Robert Hylton, recipient of SAPIEN transcatheter heart valve

To arrange an interview, please contact Johnny Hagerman at 858-652-5467 or

Scripps Mercy helps behavioral health patients kick the habit
Nov. 20 is the Great American Smokeout

Quitting smoking is always difficult, but for those who are hospitalized with behavioral health issues, it can be exceptionally stressful. Scripps Mercy Hospital’s inpatient behavioral health unit became the latest in the country to become a smoke-free environment as a part of a national effort to curtail inpatient smoking. Concerns about limiting the availability of smoking environments in behavioral health settings has been a concern in the past due to the added stress of smoking cessation. To help overcome this hurdle, Scripps Mercy is offering patients numerous options to help them take a breath of fresh air, including pharmaceutical therapies such as the nicotine patch, as well as group support therapy. Both of these resources are proven methods for smoking cessation and studies indicate that smokers who participate in group therapy greatly increase their chances of quitting. Jerry Gold, Ph.D., psychologist and administrative director of behavioral health services, is available to talk about smoking cessation as well as the programs in place to help patients and staff kick their smoking habit in the butt. For more information, or to arrange and interview, contact Kristin Reinhardt at (619) 686-3787 or

Diabetes Rate Nearly Doubles in 10 Years
November is American Diabetes Month

The rate of new diabetes cases nearly doubled in the United States in the last 10 years, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct. 30. More than 23 million Americans have diabetes, and last year about 1.6 million new cases were diagnosed in people 20 or older. About 90 percent of the cases are Type 2 diabetes, which is the form linked to obesity. To speak with an expert from the Scripps Whittier Institute for Diabetes regard the latest research, prevention, community outreach and/or clinical trials regarding diabetes, please contact Lisa Ohmstede at 858-626-7142, or

Can Less Money Equal Better Eating?
Healthy Eating Need Not Be Expensive, Even in a Bad Economy

“The less money you have, the better you may be able to eat,” say nutrition experts at Scripps Clinic. While it may sound odd, it’s true that in times of economic hardship, people are able to make healthy choices without breaking the bank. Not only do heavily processed junk foods cost a bundle at the grocery store, but their abundance of fat, calories and cholesterol can be expensive in the long run.

Michael Lee, M.D., from the Center for Weight Management at Scripps Clinic is available to discuss the healthiest proteins, produce and grains to improve your diet—and stay within your budget. To arrange an interview, please contact Ian Wright at 858-652-5519 or

Silencing the “Snorechestra” at Night Can Prevent Heart Disease

The snorts, whistles and gasps we make while sleeping may do more than rob us of a good night’s sleep. According to the November 2008 issue of the Harvard Heart Letter, they may be a sign of sleep apnea, which can lead to heart trouble and shorten life. People afflicted with sleep apnea temporarily stop breathing many times per night, causing the brain to sense a drop in oxygen and release stress hormones that make the heart beat faster and raise blood pressure.

Lawrence Kline, M.D., medical director of the Scripps Clinic Sleep Center is available to discuss the symptoms of sleep apnea, as well as offer advice on a range of treatments, from drinking less alcohol to surgical options. To arrange an interview, please contact Ian Wright at 858-652-5519 or