Today’s post is a question: what is the most important health story of 2015? What was the most important health news this year for the health of people in our country, or worldwide? Closer to home, what was most important news for you in how you promote your own health, that of family members, or that of patients?
Jerome Gropman released a list of the top medical news of the past year in this week’s New Yorker. I would have come up with only 2 on this list (1 and 6) in my own top 10, although I still have a week to contemplate that final list, hence my initial question. Here is his top-7 list:
- The Institute of Medicine recommended the creation of a national tracking system that would, in part,
encourage the teaching of bystander CPR, based in part on a New England Journal of Medicine report showing that when a bystander performed CPR before the arrival of E.M.T.s, the thirty-day survival rate was 10.5%, versus 4% when no bystander CPR took place.
- A clinical trial showing 86% reduction in the risk of transmission of H.I.V. by taking antiviral medication just prior to and after unsafe sex
- The rapid spread of the Zika virus–could this be the Chikungunya of 2015?
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of a cholesterol-lowering medication based on genomic research; the drug mimics the action of the protective PCSK9 gene found in many individuals with low cholesterol levels.
- The classic approach to treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), as with many cancers, is to poison malignant cells with chemotherapy. Last week’s report in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates success in a new approach: targeting the signals cells use to communicate with one another, an approach with the promise to render treatment more specific and less toxic. Specifically, they showed that ibrutinib, which interferes with the signalling molecule BTK, produced superior remissions in patients with CLL.
- The Open Science Framework’s project to replicate 100 studies published in three psychology journals using high-powered designs and original materials when available. In August, the Reproducibility Project reported they could replicate the findings of only 39% of the studies tested.
- A study showed that some are more prone to the placebo effect than others based on genetics. The relevant genes govern molecules that shape our moods and goal-driven behaviors.
On a similar note, Gretchen Reynolds of the New York Times compiled the top fitness-related findings of 2015 in a piece yesterday. Her top finding, reproduced in different ways by numerous studies this year, is that regular exercise leads to improvements in our thinking and the structure of our brains. Here’s to an active, healthy and cognitively productive 2016!