Tag: 12/10/21

Black US Women at Increased Risk of Birth Complication

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Black US women are more likely than their white counterparts to experience a serious complication during labour or delivery, particularly due to systemic inflammation.

Systemic inflammation was one of four categories identified by the researchers when they looked for patterns in patients who experienced severe maternal morbidity (SMM) – an unexpected outcome of labour and delivery resulting in significant short- or long-term health consequences, including death. 

Women can experience multiple complications or events associated with SMM such as kidney failure and eclampsia. The study found these complications or events can occur within four categories: systemic inflammation (includes shock, abnormal blood clotting, adult respiratory distress syndrome [ARDS] and ventilation); cardiovascular events (includes kidney failure, eclampsia and cerebrovascular events such as aneurysm); admission to the intensive care unit; and haemorrhage leading to blood transfusion.

Black women were found to be at higher risk than white women in all four SMM categories, with the highest proportion experiencing SMM due to systemic inflammation.

“Previous studies have reported the higher the number of SMM complications or events a woman experiences, the higher the likelihood of death, but our study is the first to look at how these complications and events group together and their association with outcomes,” said lead author Andrea Ibarra, MD, MS, assistant professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “We determined characteristics such as race, obesity and diabetes can identify which women are at higher risk of severe events, including death, in the various categories. That insight can spur efforts to develop new obstetric protocols and guidelines to improve care.”

Researchers reviewed records of 97 492 deliveries at one institution between 2008 and 2017 and determined that 2666 (2.7%) included an SMM event, with 49 women dying within a year of delivery. They found 44% of the deliveries associated with SMM were pre-term. Black women had higher rates of SMM (4.1%) than white women (2.4%).

Risk factors for all-category SMM included race, having pre-existing diabetes or having preeclampsia. Caesarean delivery was an additional risk factor for the haemorrhage category. Additional risk factors relating to women who fell in the systemic inflammation category were depression and social determinants, including low income or not graduating from high school.

“This research is crucial because most maternal morbidity is preventable,” said Dr Ibarra. “By identifying factors that put women at high risk of developing SMM complications or events, we can allocate more resources toward perinatal care.”

The findings were presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2021 annual meeting.

Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists

Electroacupuncture Spares Opioids for Knee Replacement Pain Relief

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Patients who have electroacupuncture during total knee replacement surgery report less pain and need far fewer opioids to manage their discomfort. In the study, 65% of patients who received acupuncture during surgery were able to have a low-dose or opioid-free postoperative experience, compared to 9% of patients outside of the study.

The results of the study were presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2021 annual meeting

“Total knee replacements are one of the most common operative procedures in the United States and often very painful, so there’s a great need to explore non-opioid pain relief techniques for this type of surgery,” said lead author Stephanie Cheng, MD, DABMA, assistant attending anaesthesiologist at the Hospital for Special Surgery and assistant professor of clinical anaesthesiology at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Acupuncture is extremely safe and can help reduce pain with few unwanted side effects, but it has not been well researched as part of surgical anesthesia.”

The study enrolled 41 patients who had primary total knee replacement, all of whom received the institution’s standard opioid-sparing multimodal analgesic protocol, with the addition of electroacupuncture, which is a modified form of traditional acupuncture that applies a small electric current to thin needles that are inserted at known acupuncture points on the body. The acupuncture was administered during surgery by Dr Cheng, who is board-certified in medical acupuncture, to eight specific points in the ear to provide targeted pain relief in the knee.

With the addition of acupuncture, the majority of patients had reduced postoperative opioid use, compared to historical controls, while 65% of patients either maintained a low-dose opioid regimen of 15 oxycodone pills or less (57.5%) or remained completely opioid-free (7.5%) from induction of anaesthesia to 30 days post-surgery. Historically, only 9% of patients outside of the study were able to maintain a low-dose or opioid-free regimen post-surgery. Thirty days after surgery, all patients discontinued opioid use.

“Our study shows that if a trained medical acupuncturist is available to perform acupuncture in the operating room, it can help patients with postoperative pain recovery,” said Dr Cheng. “Most studies fail to incorporate nontraditional techniques, such as acupuncture, to help decrease the dependence on opioid medications for postoperative pain control.”

Low-dose perioperative opioid consumption is key to mitigating the opioid epidemic and opioid misuse by patients. Dr Cheng pointed out that with acupuncture being commonly used outside of the hospital as an effective therapy for pain management and treatment for a range of health issues and symptoms, it’s time to consider its benefits inside the hospital as well. “Additional research is needed to further define acupuncture’s effects and encourage its use in all aspects of disease treatment.”

Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists

Good Uptake of Flu Jabs for Children in Procedures

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Offering an influenza vaccination to children about to have surgery and general anaesthesia  at a US children’s hospital resulted in a great increase in flu vaccinations there. In their findings presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY® 2021 annual meeting, the researchers also posited that this raised vaccination awareness.

“The ongoing threat of a simultaneous COVID pandemic and seasonal flu epidemic makes the widespread use of flu vaccines more important than ever,” said Tyler Morrissey, MD, lead author of the study and assistant professor of pediatric anesthesiology, Department of Anesthesiology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora. “Our research shows that having a standardised process for getting children vaccinated for flu while under anaesthesia during surgery provides a ‘teachable moment’ and opportunity to educate families on the importance of flu vaccination, and may be a model for other childhood vaccinations while under anaesthesia, including the COVID vaccine.”

Epidemics of seasonal flu occur annually. Although the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older receive a yearly flu vaccine, during the 2019-20 flu season, the authors noted that vaccination rates were less than 50% for adults and 60% for children.

In the study, the authors hypothesised that the perioperative period when patients are undergoing anaesthesia for surgery would be a ‘teachable moment’ for flu vaccination, which they defined as an event motivating individuals to spontaneously adopt risk-reducing health behaviours.

In October 2020, a standardised ‘Best Practice Alert’ process was implemented to actively offer flu vaccinations to all paediatric patients having general anaesthesia at the hospital In the preanaesthetic area, a care team member received a computer alert then determined if the child was eligible, discussed vaccination benefits and obtained parental consent for the vaccine. The vaccine was then administered in the operating room (OR) after the induction of general anaesthesia. Prior to the 2020-21 season, flu vaccinations under anaesthesia were only offered upon patient or family request.

The researchers found the number of children receiving perioperative flu vaccinations increased by 3500% after implementation of the institution’s standardised protocol, compared to the previous year. During the 2019-20 flu season, only 30 perioperative vaccines were administered. Prior to the intervention during the 2020-21 flu season, only 30 vaccines were given over a six-week period (1 Sept.–16 Oct.).  However, after the intervention that same season, 1063 flu vaccines were administered over a 25-week period (16 Oct.–31 March), with no reported vaccine-related complications.
“We’re super encouraged to see so many parents agree to have their children vaccinated for flu while undergoing anaesthesia,” said Dr. Morrissey. “The CDC has recommended that flu vaccination be offered to children 6 months of age and older at every health care seeking opportunity. As physicians on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, this is another great opportunity for our specialty to make a significant impact on public health.” 

Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists

Many Breast Cancer Patients Don’t Discuss Cannabis Use with Docs

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About half of US adults with breast cancer use cannabis as an adjunct to cancer treatment for symptom and side effect management. However, most don’t discuss their use of cannabis with their physicians, according to a new study.

Pain, fatigue, nausea, and other difficulties often arise from cancer and its treatment, and some patients turn to cannabis for relief of their symptoms. However, many physicians feel that they lack the necessary knowledge to discuss cannabis with their patients. Such knowledge is especially important now that cannabis use is becoming more widespread.

In a study published in CANCER, researchers reported the results of an anonymous online survey to examine cannabis use among adults who were diagnosed with breast cancer within five years and were members of the Breastcancer.org and Healthline.com online health communities.

The findings revealed that:

  • Of the 612 participants, 42% reported using cannabis for relief of symptoms, including pain, insomnia, anxiety, stress, and nausea/vomiting. Among those who used cannabis, 75% reported that it was extremely or very helpful at relieving their symptoms.
  • Nearly half (49%) of participants who used cannabis believed that medical cannabis can be used to treat cancer itself; however, its effectiveness against cancer is unclear.
  • Among those using cannabis, 79% had used it during treatment, which included systemic therapies, radiation, and surgery.
  • Participants reported using a wide range of different cannabis products known to vary in quality and purity.
  • Half of participants sought information on medical cannabis, and websites and other patients were ranked as the most helpful sources of information. Physicians ranked low on the list.
  • Among those who sought information on cannabis use for medical purposes, most were unsatisfied with the information they received.
  • Most participants believed cannabis products to be safe and were unaware that the safety of many products is untested.

“Our study highlights an important opportunity for providers to initiate informed conversations about medical cannabis with their patients, as the evidence shows that many are using medical cannabis without our knowledge or guidance,” said lead author Marisa Weiss, MD, of Breastcancer.org and Lankenau Medical Center near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Not knowing whether or not our cancer patients are using cannabis is a major blind spot in our ability to provide optimal care, and as healthcare providers, we need to do a better job of initiating informed conversations about medical cannabis with our patients to make sure their symptoms and side effects are being adequately managed while minimising the risk of potential adverse effects, treatment interactions, or non-adherence to standard treatments due to misinformation about the use of medical cannabis to treat cancer.”

Dr Weiss added that patients should never use cannabis as an alternative to standard cancer treatment, and clinicians should inform patients about the safe and effective use of cannabis as an adjunct to their cancer treatment plan.

Source: Wiley

Moderate Carbohydrate Intake Helps CVD Health in Women

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In a surprise finding, Monash University researchers have reported that proportional carbohydrate intake and not saturated fat was significantly associated with cardiovascular disease benefit in Australian women.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in women. Poor diet is recognised as both an independent CVD risk factor and a contributor to other CVD risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes mellitus (DM), hypertension, and dyslipidaemia.

In middle-aged Australian women, it was found that increasing the percentage of carbohydrate intake was linked to reduced risks of CVD, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and obesity.

Furthermore, a moderate carbohydrate intake between 41.0–44.3% of total energy intake was associated with the lowest risk of CVD, compared to women who consumed less than 37% energy as carbohydrates. However, no significant relationship was demonstrated between proportional carbohydrate intake and all-cause mortality.

Furthermore, increasing proportional saturated fat intake was not associated with cardiovascular disease or mortality in women; rather, increasing saturated fat intake correlated with lower odds of developing diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity.

The findings are now published in the British Medical Journal.

The results contradict much of the historical epidemiological research that supported a link between saturated fat and CVD. Instead, the results mirror contemporary meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies where saturated fat was found to have no significant relationship with total mortality or CVD.

Historical studies neglected to adjust for fibre, which is known to help prevent plaque from forming in the arteries, which may explain this discrepancy with older literature.

“Controversy still exists surrounding the best diet to prevent CVD,” said Sarah Zaman, an associate professor at the University of Sydney.

“A low-fat diet has historically been the mainstay of primary prevention guidelines, but the major issue within our dietary guidelines is that many dietary trials have predominately involved male participants or lacked sex-specific analyses.”

She added: “Further research is needed to tailor our dietary guidelines according to sex.”

First author Sarah Gribbin, a Doctor of Medicine and BMedSc (Hons) student, said: “As an observational study, our findings only show association and not causation. Our research is purely hypothesis-generating. We are hoping that our findings will spark future research into sex-specific dietary research.”

Source: Monash University

Vaccinated Individuals Reduce COVID Risk for Nonimmune People

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As the number of family members with COVID immunity from prior infection or vaccination increased, there was a decrease in infection and hospitalisation risk for nonimmune people. 

This is shown in a Swedish study conducted by researchers at Umeå University and published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“The results strongly suggest that vaccination is important not only for individual protection, but also for reducing transmission, especially within families, which is a high-risk environment for transmission,” said Peter Nordström, professor of geriatric medicine at Umeå University.

Evidence shows that vaccines greatly reduce the severity of COVID including the Delta variant but there less is known how vaccination affects transmission of the virus in high-risk environments, eg within families.

The researchers found that there was a dose-response association between the number of immune individuals in each family and the risk of infection and hospitalisation in non-immune family members. Specifically, non-immune family members had a 45 to 97% reduced risk of infection and hospitalisation, as the number of immune family members increased.

The study is a nationwide, registry-based study of more than 1.8 million individuals from more than 800 000 families, drawing on various databases. In the analysis, the researchers quantified the association between the number of family members with immunity against COVID and the risk of infection and hospitalisation in nonimmune individuals. The researchers accounted for factors such as differences in age, socioeconomic status, clustering within families, and several diagnoses previously identified as risk factors for COVID in the Swedish population.

“It seems as if vaccination helps not only to reduce the individual’s risk of becoming infected, but also to reduce transmission, which in turn minimises not only the risk that more people become critically il, but also that new problematic variants emerge and start to take over. Consequently, ensuring that many people are vaccinated has implications on a local, national, and global scale,” said study co-author Marcel Ballin, doctoral student in geriatric medicine at Umeå University.

Source: Umeå University