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Research Roundup

Posted by on Tuesday, January 3, 2023 in Around the Medical Center, Fall 2022 .

Ginseng intake and mortality

The herbal supplement ginseng has been used in Asian countries to promote longevity and health for more than 2,000 years, but the impact of ginseng consumption on mortality is still unclear.

Wei Zheng, MD, PhD, MPH, and colleagues analyzed ginseng consumption and death in 56,138 female participants with nearly 15 years of follow-up in the ongoing prospective Shanghai Women’s Health Study.

They report in the Journal of Epidemiology that regular ginseng use was associated with reduced total (all-cause) mortality. They found that longer duration of ginseng use (greater than six years versus never used) was associated with reduced total mortality and mortality from cardiovascular disease and other causes. They did not find an association between the amount of ginseng consumption and mortality outcomes.

The findings suggest that regular ginseng intake for its perceived health benefits, particularly over a long duration, is associated with decreased risk of death from all causes, from cardiovascular disease, and from certain other diseases.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant CA182910).



Professionalism and patient outcomes

William Cooper, MD, MPH, and colleagues previously reported that patients of surgeons with higher numbers of reports from co-workers about unprofessional behavior are more likely to experience complications, and that patient and family reports about rude and disrespectful behavior can identify surgeons with higher rates of surgical site infections and other avoidable adverse outcomes.

In a new retrospective cohort study in Annals of Surgery, Cooper, David Spain, MD, and colleagues report that trauma patients who received care from at least one admitting or consulting service with a high proportion of physicians modeling unprofessional behavior were at a 24% increased risk of death or complications.

The team examined records of 71,046 patients admitted to nine geographically diverse level I trauma centers over a five-year period. High-risk services were defined as teams in the top third with regard to the proportion of physicians with high numbers of patient complaints (leaving these physicians with Patient Advocacy Reporting System® scores above 50).



Preempting sudden cardiac death

Inherited syndromes arising from rare genetic variants that cause cardiac arrhythmia are the most common cause of unexplained sudden death in people 15 to 30 years old. Yet it is difficult to distinguish benign (harmless) variants from those that are pathogenic.

Brett Kroncke, PhD, and colleagues in the Vanderbilt Center for Arrhythmia Research and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Darlinghurst, Australia, used a massively parallel trafficking assay to characterize all variants in the “hotspot” of a potassium channel gene, KCNH2, that is associated with long QT syndrome.

While more than half of the variants were found to be functionally normal, the assay proved to be more accurate than bioinformatic prediction tools in discriminating between functional and abnormal variants, the researchers reported in The American Journal of Human Genetics.

By providing prospective information, the assay potentially may improve the ability to identify and preemptively treat individuals at risk.