Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Here's what you need to know to get ahead of the day's news in science and medicine. 

What we learned from the readout of Trump's physical

President Trump is “very healthy and will remain so for the duration of his presidency," says physician to the president Dr. Ronny Jackson, who led Trump’s physical exam last week. Jackson said the medical team conducted a cognitive assessment of Trump at the president’s request — in this case, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment — and he scored 30 out of 30. Trump got a flu shot, Jackson said, and the president has “excellent” cardiac health. There is room for improvement though: Jackson said Trump, who weighs 239 pounds, should lose 10 to 15 pounds through some changes in his diet and increased exercise. “He’s more enthusiastic about the diet part than the exercise part,” Jackson said, “but we’re going to do both.” 

Walmart pharmacies begin handing out opioid disposal aid 

Walmart is joining the push to make it easier for patients to safely dispose leftover opioids. When patients fill a new opioid prescription at a Walmart pharmacy, they'll now also get a free product called DisposeRx that was inspired by plant food. Launched six months ago by a company with the same name, DisposeRx is a packet of polymers that, when mixed with water, is designed to allow patients to turn leftover medication into a gel that can be thrown away. With the move, Walmart joins other big pharmacy chains that are trying to tackle the problem of safely disposing opioids through a variety of strategies, including setting up disposal kiosks and handing out pouches designed to deactivate drugs.

Anxiety is the most common reason college students seek counseling

Anxiety and depression are the most common reasons college students seek out counseling on campus, according to a new analysis from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health. The report only looked at students who visited hundreds of college counseling centers in the 2016-2017 school year, not the general student population. Here’s a look at the findings:

  • Half of college students who sought out counseling said they dealt with depression. Anxiety was even more common, affecting 62 percent of students who came in for counseling.

  • Self-threatening behaviors are becoming more common among college students seeking treatment. The proportion of students who had ever self-injured, thought seriously about suicide, or attempted suicide rose for the seventh year in a row.

  • More students seeking treatment are using marijuana. The percentage of students seeking counseling who reported using weed in the past two weeks jumped to 24 percent, up from 21 percent in the 2015-2016 school year.

Inside STAT: Why mucus is the body's 'unsung hero'


(hyacinth empinado / stat)

Biological engineer Katharina Ribbeck doesn’t view mucus the way many people do. She sees it as an “unsung hero that has been taming problematic pathogens for millions of years,” she says. Her lab at MIT studies mucus to understand how it hosts both beneficial and pathogenic bacteria — and how it might one day be harnessed to improve how drugs are delivered or to prevent infections. STAT’s Hyacinth Empinado has more in a fascinating new video on Ribbeck’s research — watch here.

Congress talks health threats and the opioid crisis

It’s a busy morning for health care on Capitol Hill.  The Senate health committee is convening for the first in a series of meetings on whether the nation is prepared for the public health threats that could come our way in the future. One notable absence: CDC director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who was slated to testify but had to recuse herself due to potential conflicts of interest, The Hill reports. It's not the first time Fitzgerald — who hasn't been able to divest from all her stock holdings since taking the position — has had to skip out on testimony before Congress. 

And a Senate committee is holding a hearing today on Medicaid and the opioid crisis, while a House committee is holding a similar hearing on how Medicare and Medicaid can work to prevent misuse of prescription painkillers.

Health officials recommend yellow fever vaccine before travel to Sao Paolo

The WHO is recommending that all international visitors headed to Brazil’s Sao Paolo state get vaccinated for yellow fever. The news comes as the country preps for Carnival, a big annual festival that’s sure to draw in tourists when it begins in early February. Last year, Brazil had a particularly bad outbreak of yellow fever, which is spread by certain mosquitoes and can lead to heart problems, kidney damage, and death in severe cases. The health agency says there have been 11 confirmed cases as of last week and hundreds of cases in monkeys.

What to read around the web today

  • Administration to shield health workers who refuse to perform abortions or treat transgender patients. Politico
  • Inside the global race to deliver a vital radioactive isotope used to detect cancer. Kaiser Health News
  • Former health secretary Tom Price gets a new gig. Bloomberg

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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