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Vulnerable Atherosclerotic Plaque Technical Brief Is Available

Electronic Newsletter, Issue 292

U.S. hospitals spent $83 billion in 2008 caring for people with diabetes.

AHRQ News and Numbers

U.S. hospitals spent $83 billion in 2008 caring for people with diabetes. In that year, nearly one of every five hospitalizations involved a person with diabetes. This amount is 23 percent of what hospitals spent overall to treat all conditions in 2008. The expenditure included costs associated with more than 540,000 hospital stays specifically for diabetes and roughly 7.2 million stays for patients who had other conditions in addition to diabetes. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUP Statistical Brief #93: Hospital Stays for Patients with Diabetes, 2008 (PDF File)

Today's Headlines

  1. Vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque technical brief is available
  2. AHRQ selects chair and future chair of CERTs Steering Committee
  3. Task Force seeks public comments on gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum recommendation
  4. AHRQ's effective health care program findings and slides available on "ACEs" and "ARBs"
  5. AHRQ takes to the airwaves to communicate vital health care information to Spanish speakers
  6. Audio newscasts available when you have time to listen
  7. Few spaces remain for AHRQ's HCUP data users' workshop set for September 15
  8. Highlights from our most recent monthly newsletter
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  Vulnerable Atherosclerotic Plaque Technical Brief Is Available

Medical researchers seeking more precise ways to predict a patient's susceptibility to heart attacks and strokes are not close to finding a clinically and biologically superior method of doing so, according to a new AHRQ-funded study. The report examines scientific literature of vulnerable plaques, a concept that proposes that biologically unstable areas of arteries could rupture and form a local blood clot that blocks the flow of blood through the artery to the heart or brain, causing a heart attack or stroke. However, the report's authors found substantial challenges in identifying unique characteristics of vulnerable plaques that can reliably be used in clinical practice to identify patients who are at higher risk of developing a heart attack or stroke. The report was produced by AHRQ's Tufts Medical Center Evidence-based Practice Center and was published online in Annals of Internal Medicine. Select to access the full report. (PDF File)

2.  AHRQ Selects Chair and Future Chair of CERTs Steering Committee

D. Craig Brater, M.D. has been selected as the immediate Chair-Elect and future Chair of AHRQ's Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) National Steering Committee from January 2011 to December 2012. Dr. Brater currently serves as the Dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine and as the Vice-President of Indiana University. A clinical pharmacologist by training, Dr. Brater has many distinguished scientific accomplishments as well as leadership experience in therapeutics and education, having served as the President of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the Association of the Professors of Medicine, and the United States Pharmacopeia. He has served as Chair of the American College of Physicians' Council of Medical Societies and in multiple leadership roles with the Association of American Medical Colleges. In addition, David J. Ballard, M.D., M.S.P.H., Ph.D., has been selected as the future Chair-Elect of the CERTs National Steering Committee, serving in that role from January 2011 to December 2012 and then as Chair from January 2013 to December 2014. Dr. Ballard is Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer of the Baylor Health Care System in Dallas, Texas, where he has led since 1999 quality improvement initiatives for its integrated delivery system of 15 hospitals and 100 ambulatory care centers which received the 2007 Leapfrog Patient-Centered Care Award, the 2008 National Quality Healthcare Award of the National Quality Forum and the 2010 Medical Group Preeminence Award of the American Medical Group Association. His academic training as a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina (UNC) was in chemistry, economics, epidemiology, and medicine. Select to access the information on the CERTs Steering Committee.

3.  Task Force Seeks Public Comments on Gonococcal Ophthalmia Neonatorum Recommendation

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is inviting public comment on its draft recommendation statement on prophylactic ocular topical medication for all newborns for the prevention of gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum. This draft recommendation is a reaffirmation of the Task Force 2005 recommendation in support of prophylactic ocular topical medication for all newborns.

4.  AHRQ's Effective Health Care Findings and Slides Available on "ACEs" and "ARBs"

AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program is pleased to announce these new materials for the comparative effectiveness review, Comparative Effectiveness of Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Inhibitors or Angiotensin II Receptor Blockers Added to Standard Medical Therapy for Treating Stable Ischemic Heart Disease.

  • Two Continuing Medical Education activities educate the learner on the important findings from the comparative effectiveness review and their application to patient care. These activities have been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.
  • Two faculty slide talks summarize important findings from the comparative effectiveness review and highlight the relevance in the clinical setting.

5.  AHRQ Takes to the Airwaves to Communicate Vital Health Care Information to Spanish Speakers

AHRQ has launched Healthcare 411 en Español - a new audio podcast series to provide Spanish speakers with evidence-based consumer information to help them stay healthy, prevent diseases, compare the effectiveness of various medical treatments, and obtain high-quality and safe health care. Under this new initiative, AHRQ is producing two 60-second audio reports each month and distributing them to Spanish-language radio stations nationwide. Each audio segment includes an interview with a native Spanish-speaking AHRQ physician who discusses current issues such as the importance of regular screening exams for people with diabetes or how to prepare for a doctor's appointment. AHRQ posts the audio to its Healthcare 411 Web site, where consumers can subscribe and download the segments to a computer or portable media device such as an MP3 player. Select to listen to the Healthcare 411 audio segments in Spanish. Select to subscribe.

6.  Audio Newscasts Available When You Have Time to Listen

Are you looking for health-related news you can listen to at your convenience at home or on the go? AHRQ's Healthcare 411 is your reliable audio news program, based on the latest research and available when and where you need it! You can listen to 60-second radiocasts with tips for heath care consumers and 10-minute audio podcasts featuring longer, more in-depth interviews with experts who provide evidence-based information on today's critical health care topics. Log on and listen to Healthcare 411; or subscribe and we'll send stories directly to your computer or personal media player. Select to listen to our latest audio podcast on treating high cholesterol.

7.  AHRQ's HCUP Data Users' Workshop Set for September 15

Register for AHRQ's HCUP Data Users' Workshop: Working with HCUP Databases for September 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Rockville, MD. This free one-day course is designed to teach health services researchers how to use databases and software tools from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). Participants will work with actual data from HCUP's State databases. HCUP databases comprise the largest collection of publicly available, multi-year hospital care (inpatient, emergency department, and ambulatory surgery) data in the United States, with all-payer, encounter level information beginning in 1988. Instruction will also be given on the use of HCUP software tools to facilitate analysis of administrative data. HCUP databases and tools enable research on a broad range of health research and policy issues at the national, state and local market levels, including cost and quality of health services, medical practice patterns, access to health care, and outcomes of treatment. The workshop is oriented toward intermediate-level data users and/or people who are already familiar with HCUP. Computers will be provided and instructor-lead programming examples will be presented in SAS. Select to register. Space is limited.

8.   Highlights from Our Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

The August issue of Research Activities is available online. Key articles include:

  • Many homeless women are reluctant to get free Pap smears.

Women who are homeless often have difficulty accessing quality health care and paying for it. Such is the case with cervical cancer screening, where homeless women have higher rates of the disease. Yet when barriers to access and cost are removed, homeless women remain reluctant to get a free Pap smear and decline the offer. Select to read this article.

Other articles include:

  • Care setting affects likelihood that children with persistent asthma will receive inhaled steroids.
  • Surgical simulation training improves speed and confidence in residents learning endoscopic sinus surgery.
  • Trauma associated with mental health disorders but not substance abuse in homeless men.
  • Simple tool to measure health literacy in patients with HIV successfully predicts medication adherence.

Select to read these articles and others.

9.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

We are providing the following hyperlinks to journal abstracts through PubMed® for your convenience. Unfortunately, some of you may not be able to access the abstracts because of firewalls or specific settings on your individual computer systems. If you are having problems, you should ask your technical support staff for possible remedies.

Plow MA, Mathiowetz V, Lowe DA. Comparing individualized rehabilitation to a group wellness intervention for persons with multiple sclerosis. Am J Health Promot 2009 Sep-Oct; 24(1):23-6. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®

Asarnow JR, Jaycox LH, Tang L, et al. Long-term benefits of short-term quality improvement interventions for depressed youths in primary care. Am J Psychiatry 2009 Sep; 166(9):1002-10. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®

Wu AW, Huang IC, Stokes S, et al. Disclosing medical errors to patients: it's not what you say, it's what they hear. J Gen Intern Med 2009 Sep; 24(9):1012-17. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®

Ross LE, Taylor YJ, Richardson LC, et al. Patterns in prostate-specific antigen test use and digital rectal examinations in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002-2006. J Natl Med Assoc 2009 Apr; 101(4):316-24. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®

Smith VC, Young S, Pursley DM, et al. Are families prepared for discharge from the NICU? J Perinatol 2009 Sep; 29(9):623-9. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®

Hwang SW, Kirst MJ, Chiu S, et al. Multidimensional social support and the health of homeless individuals. J Urban Health 2009 Sep; 86(5):791-803. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®

Lo Re V 3rd, Haynes K, Forde KA, Localio AR, Schinnar R, Lewis JD. Validity of The Health Improvement Network (THIN) for epidemiologic studies of hepatitis C virus infection. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf 2009 Sep; 18(9):807-14. Select to access the abstract on PubMed.®

Contact Information

Please address comments and questions regarding the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter to Nancy Comfort at or (301) 427-1866.

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Page last reviewed August 2010
Internet Citation: Vulnerable Atherosclerotic Plaque Technical Brief Is Available: Electronic Newsletter, Issue 292. August 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


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