Most New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight or eat healthier. However, the majority of people who make resolutions fail to see them through. While this may seem harmless, when it comes to failing to complete cardiac rehabilitation programs, the consequences may be grave.
That’s what a recent study found by looking at the effects of cardiac rehabilitation program completion rates on patients and the Ontario health care system. These medically supervised programs use a combination of exercise, education and counselling to help people recover from heart attacks or other heart-related conditions.
In the study, TRI Senior Scientist Dr. David Alter and his research team followed more than 12,500 patients—half of which were referred to cardiac rehabilitation programs by their doctors and the other half of which were not—over the course of three years. They found that only 30 per cent of referred patients actually completed their rehabilitation program. The patients that completed their programs not only had better survival, but also cost the health care system $3,000 less per year compared to those who were not referred, did not show up or dropped out.
Using these data, the researchers estimate that the Ontario health care system could save $100 million if cardiac patients completed their rehabilitation programs. “This study highlights the need to place a much greater focus on those who are dropping out and what else we can do within the health care system to engage these patients, which will drive down costs and maximize heart disease survival,” explains Dr. Alter. “Given that current funding for cardiac rehabilitation is very limited and constrained in the province, these findings also provide evidence that additional funding for these programs would result in a significant return on investment for the health care system.”
This work was supported by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and the Toronto Rehab Foundation.
Alter DA, Yu B, Bajaj RR, Oh PI. Relationship Between Cardiac Rehabilitation Participation and Health Service Expenditures Within a Universal Health Care System. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017 Mar 13. doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.12.024.
The 1995 film Outbreak was a box office success. The plot of the movie followed doctors and scientists as they aimed to prevent the spread of a highly contagious virus and develop a cure for the deadly disease.
Although much of Outbreak’s plot is dramatized, its scientific component is based on one of the world’s greatest health issues: infection with the Ebola virus, which causes Ebola virus disease (EVD). During the largest Ebola epidemic to date, from 2013 to 2016 in West Africa, the World Health Organization declared EVD a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern”. Currently, a treatment for EVD does not exist.
To this end, researchers around the world—including TGHRI Senior Scientist Dr. Eleanor Fish—are searching to find effective treatments for EVD, before the onset of another epidemic. Repurposing existing drugs that are already approved for use in humans is a strategy that could fast track the effort. Thus, Dr. Fish decided to explore the use of interferon-β1a, which is produced naturally by the body after infection with a virus. The drug is currently used to treat multiple sclerosis, but Dr. Fish’s previous findings have revealed that boosting levels of the protein in experimental models was effective at treating EVD.
Given this evidence, Dr. Fish and her research team conducted a trial of interferon-β1a during the most recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The team found that 67 per cent of the interferon-treated patients were still alive at 21 days compared to 19 per cent of those who received supportive treatment only. Additionally, those treated with the drug were able to more quickly eliminate the virus from the bloodstream and recover from EVD-related symptoms, such as abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
"Interferon-β1a is already being used clinically, so we know that it is safe and readily available," explains Dr. Fish. "Although more research needs to be done, the results of our study show that this drug warrants further study."
This work was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and supported by The European Mobile Laboratory and the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. E Fish is a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Women’s Health and Immunobiology.
Konde MK, Baker DP, Traore FA, Sow MS, Camara A, Barry AA, Mara D, Barry A, Cone M, Kaba I, Richard AA, Beavogui AH, Günther S; European Mobile Laboratory Consortium, Pintilie M, Fish EN. Interferon β-1a for the treatment of Ebola virus disease: A historically controlled, single-arm proof-of-concept trial. PLoS One. 2017 Feb 22. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0169255.
This spring the digital team will be removing some of the barriers to communicating and working across UHN by launching a suite of collaborative tools on the O365 platform. This will include cloud-based access to familiar applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel as well as more space to store and archive emails in Outlook. In addition, for the first time, staff will have enterprise-wide access to room bookings, calendars, contacts, instant messaging and the option to hold online meetings.
Research staff will be migrated to O365 starting this spring. Migrations will occur lab by lab and department by department over a four-month period. RIS will contact each group and schedule a site visit to upgrade and migrate all lab/department staff at the same time.
The migration to O365 is just one of the initiatives that UHN digital—the newly integrated digital management team—is implementing to establish an enterprise-wide IT operating structure that bridges clinical, educational and research domains.
Learn more about the O365 migration on the research intranet O365 page [link accessible internally only].