Health Organizations Seek to Prevent Readmissions

Health care industry organizations, physicians, hospitals and the Department of Health and Human Services recently joined the Obama administration in a joint initiative, called Partnership for Patients, that seeks to prevent hospital-acquired conditions and lower readmission rates.

Among those launching the partnership included the American College of Cardiology, which joined the partnership because the goals of the program mirror its own efforts. The American College of Cardiology established the Hospital to Home campaign, an effort to reduce readmissions for patients recently hospitalized with cardiovascular conditions.

This campaign recently challenged cardiologists to schedule follow-up care within seven days for patients discharged from the hospital.  The goal is to enroll patients into a cardio rehab program within a week of leaving the hospital to prevent the patient from going several weeks without seeing a physician and risking hospital readmission.

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Study Shows Potential for Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease, Mental Illness

New research has demonstrated that the human placenta plays an active role in synthesizing serotonin, which could potentially lead to new treatment for cardiovascular disease and mental illness.

Findings from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California’s Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute (with researchers from Vanderbilt University as part of a Silvio Conte Center of Excellence grant from the National Institute of Mental Health) offer evidence that the placenta provides serotonin to the fetal forebrain.  It was previously theorized that it was delivered through the mother’s blood supply.

The research, which will be published in the journal Nature on April 21, 2011, indicates that the placenta synthesizes serotonin and reaches the brain after being released into the fetal bloodstream.

The study was conducted in part using a “placentometer,” which monitors substances that pass through the mouse placenta from mother to fetus. This technology can incorporate genetic models of human disease, and could lead to therapies that treat the mother without affecting the fetus, or vice versa.

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$33 Million for PneumRX

PneumRx, Inc., a medical device company that seeks to bring innovation and improvements to the treatment of lung disease, announced earlier in the year that it has raised $33 million in working capital commitments.

Forbion Capital Partners and Endeavour Vision, both leading venture capital firms from Europe, led the oversubscribed round. PneumRx recently established a subsidiary in Germany, PneumRx GmbH, and it has begun selling its RePneu Lung Volume Reduction Coil (LVRC) System in Europe.

PneumRX plans to expand European commercialization and to conduct an FDA-approved clinical trial to support a PMA application with the goal of selling the system in the United States.

The RePneu LVRC System is a minimally invasive device intended to improve lung function in emphysema patients by bronchoscopically implanting Nitinol coils into the lungs to compress damaged tissue (lung volume reduction) and restore elastic recoil to the lung. The treatment offers an alternative to lung volume reduction surgery, and works independently of collateral ventilation.

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Study Shows Restless Legs Link to Heart Risk

A new study suggests that restless leg syndrome might indicate potential heart problems in certain individuals.  Doctors at the Mayo Clinic found that those with very frequent leg movements during sleep were more likely to have thick hearts, which may make them more prone to cardiac problems.

Doctors behind the study cautioned that they were not suggesting a cause and effect relationship, but rather that restless legs could be a sign of heart trouble, and that individuals and their doctors should consider the link.

Restless legs syndrome is a sleep disorder that may afflict millions in the United States.  The disorder frequently has been treated as an annoyance, and this is the first study to look at how the syndrome affects health.  Sleep apnea, another sleep disorder, raises the risks of heart problems.

Researchers stressed that people with restless legs should not panic, but that they might consider asking doctors if tests for an enlarged heart are required.

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