A NEW LASER HEART SURGERY TECHNIQUE for patients with coronary heart disease is being tested at University of Washington Medical Center. Transmyocardial revascularization (TMR) uses a “cold beam” laser to create new pathways for blood to reach oxygen-starved heart tissue. Dr. Edward Verrier, chief of cardiothoracic surgery, said TMR may help a substantial number of patients with heart disease who cannot be treated with normal coronary artery bypass or interventional cardiology techniques.
MANAGED CARE CUTS COSTS IN WORKER’S COMP. according to results of a study from the University of Washington School of Public Health and state Department of Labor and Industries. Findings also indicate that these patients were less satisfied with their care compared to patients receiving fee-for-service treatment. dr. Tom Wickizer, UW associate professor of health services, said the study of about 7,000 workers showed an approximate 27 percent decrease in medical costs using a managed care program with an occupational medicine focus.
CHRONIC STRESS MAY EXACERBATE HEALTH PROBLEMS among persons who have had a chronic disease such as cancer, according to a study at the University of Washington. Researchers examined the health status of persons with a cancer history who were also caregivers for spouses with Alzheimer’s. Comparisons between this group and patients with cancer history who were not caregivers showed a “significant difference in immune function,” according to Dr. Peter Vitaliano, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
IDENTIFYING WHY INTERFERON IS OFTEN INEFFECTIVE in treating hepatitis C cases may point the way for the development of new treatment options. Researchers at the University of Washington report that a protein in two strains of hepatitis C virus had the ability to bind to and inactivate a key component of interferon response. “We believe we’ve identified a potential target for therapeutics,” said Dr. Michael Katze, UW professor of microbiology, adding that while the findings are an important first step, it will be some time until a new therapy might be developed.
DETERMINING WHY WOMEN’S RISK OF HEART DISEASE increases with age is the goal of a new study at the University of Washington. The two-year study will focus on the effects of estrogen deficiency on body-fat distribution and cholesterol metabolism. Dr. John Brunzell, professor of medicine, explains that most women develop an increased risk of heart disease after menopause, which is partly due to a change in cholesterol metabolism. “We will study the entire menopause transition to determine when and how this change takes place,” he said.
LOW RISK PATIENTS WHO CHOOSE NURSE MIDWIVES for their obstetrical care have fewer Caesarean sections, receive less anesthesia, have a lower rate of episiotomy and incur less expense compared to women who choose physicians for their care. In their study, researchers at the University of Washington also report that obstetricians, family physicians and nurse midwives all achieve excellent results. “Nurse midwives establish a relationship with their patients that leads to excellent outcomes with less use of medical resources,” said Dr. Roger A. Rosenblatt, UW professor of family medicine.