Duke Medicine

Physician Assistant, Duke Medicine, Rural Health
Leoneda Inge

This is the Affordable Care Act’s third open enrollment season and Obama Administration officials expect at least one million more people will enroll by the end of next year. 

The increase in the country’s insured population has resulted in major growth in one profession in particular – the physician assistant. This year, Duke University is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Physician Assistant Program, the oldest in the country.

Image of Damon Tweedy, who is a professor psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke.
Stock Photography

When Damon Tweedy was in his first year of medical school, he learned a number of startling statistics that led him to the conclusion that being black is somehow bad for your health.

He heard over and over how black patients were faring worse than other patients in almost every field of medicine, but nobody seemed to be talking about the reasons for this disparity.

A picture of a blood pressure cuff.
Medisave UK / Flickr

Doctors often start treating patients for high cholesterol after age 55. But new research from Duke University shows each previous decade of high cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease 39 percent.

Bio-statistician Michael Pencina is a lead author of the report.

“Higher level of cholesterol in the 30s and 40s, still leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease at age 55.”

A picture of a stethoscope.
jasleen_kaur / Flickr/Creative Commons

Duke Medicine research shows that most elderly, low risk breast cancer patients receive radiation therapy after surgery. That's despite evidence that the costly and physically-taxing treatment isn't very effective with that group.

Radiation Oncologist Rachel Blitzblau authored the new study.

She says some doctors might be skeptical of the data, but patients might also push to get the treatment anyway.

Tormod Sandtorv / Flickr/Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University suggest getting rid of homes for orphaned children will not lead to better child well-being.

The study followed children in low- to middle-income children from Cambodia, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, and Tanzania. It looked at many factors in the children's lives including emotional trauma, growth, memory and the health of both the child and caregiver.

Kathryn Whetten is professor of public policy at Duke and directs the school's Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research. 

Alex E. Proimos via Flickr

Doctors too often miss the opportunity to talk with their teenage patients about sex during annual visits, according to researchers at Duke Medicine.

A study released this week in JAMA Pediatrics shows that less than two thirds of doctors and teenage patients talk about sex and sexuality during checkups, with most conversations lasting an average of 36 seconds.  

Cleveland Shields, a researcher on the study, says the findings show that doctors need to approach the topic more often and for longer periods of time to better address the sexual health needs of teenagers.

CPR Training
BC Gov Photos / Flickr Creative Commons

Researchers at Duke University say areas with the most cardiovascular health issues are least likely to have bystanders who can perform CPR. 

A study released last week says rural and poor communities have a significantly lower number of people who have CPR training.  The report says that rate is particularly low in Southern states. 

The study's lead author Monique Anderson says communities that promote a simpler way of conducting CPR are training more people.

HIV microscope image, virus, disease
Duke University

Duke researchers say a protein in breast milk may be a key in preventing babies from contracting HIV from their infected mothers. 

The protein Tenascin-C is produced by the body to aid in helping wounds heal.  Doctors found after isolating the breast milk component that it neutralizes HIV transfer even as breast-fed babies are exposed multiple times daily.  

Sallie Permar is a professor of pediatrics at Duke.  She says their questions now center on moms with HIV.

Argus II bionic eye glasses
Second Sight

Duke University Hospital has become one of only 13 sites in the nation selected to offer bionic eyes for severely blind patients.

A company called Second Sight developed the device, and they chose Duke after a lengthy selection process. The device was approved by the FDA in February.

For more than a decade, the number of people in our nation who've newly contracted HIV has gone down two percent. But the South doesn't share in that small victory. During the same period of time, the number of people contracting the virus in the South has risen 36 percent.