Category: Clinical Research

April 30, 2021
Raising the Bar, Raising Awareness for Parkinson

Parkinson’s disease (PD) occurs when the dopamine-producing cells in the brain stop working or die off. PD is progressive and can cause tremors, slowness, stiffness, and other non-motor symptoms. April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month. This year’s theme is #KnowMorePD, focusing on raising the bar and raising awareness for Parkinson’s, and improving the lives of individuals affected.

5 Facts You May Not Know About Parkinson’s:

  1. British surgeon Dr. James Parkinson discovered it in 1817
  2. Around 500,000 new cases are diagnosed each year
  3. Most patients are middle-aged and diagnosed, on average, around age 56
  4. Small handwriting is an early warning sign
  5. It has no cure, but there are several effective treatments available
Parkinson's can be puzzling

#KnowMorePD

Activities are underway as PD patients, loved ones, and caregivers share their stories, petition local governments, and join one of the many events taking place this month. The goal is to raise awareness about Parkinson’s disease and all the resources available to make patients’ lives better. You can get join the efforts by testing your knowledge of PD with a quiz. You can also learn more about it through any of the following resources:

  • Podcast – Every other Tuesday, a new episode of Substantial Matters: Life and Science of Parkinson’s airs. Episodes focus on topics relevant to your daily life, including new therapies, exercise, clinical trials, nutrition, and more!
  • Publications – The PD Library is an extensive collection of publications that can help you #KnowMorePD.
  • Social media – Follow along and engage with @ParkinsonDotOrg on your social media platform of choice for the newest information for PD.

Volunteers Can Help Change the Future of Parkinson’s

April is Parkinson's Disease Awareness Month

Research initiatives continue to expand treatment options to people with Parkinson’s and, ultimately, help them live better with this condition. Volunteering for research gives you the power to help researchers understand how PD progresses and accelerates medical breakthroughs. To learn more about enrolling Parkinson’s disease studies at ActivMed Practices & Research, call (978) 992-4239, or visit our website.

References:

https://www.parkinson.org/parkinsons-awareness-month

March 11, 2021
Why are the kidneys important, clinical research

The kidneys are remarkably intricate organs located on either side of the spine in the lower back. They are two bean-shaped organs about the size of fists. It’s perfect; they are the size of fists because they are always fighting for your overall health. This is only the beginning of why the kidneys are so important.

What the Kidneys Do

Each of your kidneys contains around a million filtering units called nephrons. Each unit includes a filter, called the glomerulus, and a tubule. The glomerulus filters your blood, and the tubule returns needed substances to your blood and removes wastes. You eliminate the waste when you urinate. The renal artery brings in the blood. Once filtered, it returns to the body through the renal vein. The kidneys process about 150 quarts of blood a day, turning 1-2 quarts into urine.

They also are responsible for:

  • Help maintain a healthy balance of water, salts, and minerals—such as sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium—in your blood.
  • Make hormones that help:
  • Control your blood pressure
  • Make red blood cells
  • Keep your bones strong and healthy

Why the Kidneys are Important

Even if 10% of your kidneys were working, you might not notice any symptoms or problems. Each heartbeat sends 20% of the blood to the kidneys. Without blood flowing into a kidney, part or all of it could die. Eventually, that can lead to kidney failure. How the kidneys regulate the useful and harmful substances that are in our body is called renal function. Even if they were assisted artificially, like would not continue without the functions they perform.

Humans can live without one of their kidneys but at least one working is necessary for life

When a medical condition causes the blood flow to decrease, the kidney can begin to deteriorate. Diabetes is the number one cause of chronic kidney disease in the U.S. High glucose levels cause thickening and damage along with the proliferation of destructive enzymes that make the kidney overwork itself.

World Kidney Day

March 11th is World Kidney Day. The 2021 focus is “Living Well with Kidney Disease.” The goal is to increase education and awareness about effective symptom management and patient empowerment, with the ultimate goal of encouraging life participation. Learn more about and how you can get involved here.

Ensuring patients with kidney disease live well requires us to extend beyond the status quo with research that improves patients’ options. To learn more about enrolling studies for kidney disease here at ActivMed Practices & Research, call 978-655-7155, or visit our Methuen, MA website.

References:

https://www.uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2019/08/why-kidney-health-is-vital-to-your-overall-well-being

https://www.webmd.com/kidney-stones/picture-of-the-kidneys#:~:text=The%20kidneys’%20job%20is%20to,minerals%20are%20adjusted%2C%20if%20needed.

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/kidney-disease/kidneys-how-they-work

February 26, 2021
Rare diseases- Hidradenitis suppurativa, blog, clinical research

Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is a condition that causes lumps or boils to form in the folds of your skin. Though non-contagious, they are often painful and impact a patients’ quality of life and mental health. Without proper treatment, HS can worsen. Hidradenitis Suppurativa may be a rare disease, but knowing more about it can change that.

HS Signs

The painful lumps can affect one or multiple areas of the body. Areas with hair follicles and many oil and sweat glands are more prone. For example, the armpit, groin, and anal regions. These hair follicles become blocked and develop into HS. They also can develop where skin rubs together like the inner thighs, breast, and buttocks. Signs of hidradenitis suppurativa in these areas include:

  • Discomfort in the area where skin can burn, itch, or sweat excessively.
  • A painful spot that looks like a deep pimple, boil, or acne cyst.
  • Lumps that grow and join together may fill with fluid and become increasingly painful. These may break open and release a foul-smelling liquid.
  • Blackhead-like bumps that often appear in twos.

The cause of hidradenitis suppurativa remains mostly unknown. We know that it isn’t the result of poor hygiene but could be connected to hormones, inherited genes, and immune system issues.

Did you know the exact cause of HS is unknown? Learn more about HS research studies. Woman with short curly hair staring out.

Treatment Options for Hidradenitis Suppurativa

At this time, there is no known cure for HS. Thankfully, breakthroughs through research has led to a better understanding of this disease. It has also led to better treatment options for HS. Many patients now receive a treatment plan customized to their needs. Having this condition increases the risk of developing other conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Your dermatologist may work closely with other doctors for this reason. A patient’s HS treatment plan may include:

  • Following a daily skincare routine with non-soap products or antiseptic wash.
  • Antibiotic creams, systemic drugs, and pain medications.
  • Surgical options include removing the affected area of the skin, removing lesions, and uncovering tunnels made by joining abscesses.
  • Lifestyle changes such as avoiding tight clothes and products that irritate the skin, maintaining a healthy weight, and staying active.
Living with hidradenitis suppurativa can be challenging. Learn more about HS research options. White female sitting alone in park

HS research continues for hope to help improve the care of those with this condition and eventually find a cure. To learn how you can get involved in the hidradenitis suppurativa studies currently enrolling here at ActivMed Practices & Research, call our Beverly, MA location at (978) 969-6897, or visit our website.

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hidradenitis-suppurativa/symptoms-causes/syc-20352306

https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/hidradenitis-suppurativa-symptoms

February 9, 2021
Research is good for the heart, blog, Older white male running in a race, heart disease clinical research

Around 655,000 Americans die every year from heart disease. It is the leading cause of death for men, women, and most ethnic groups in the U.S. February 2021 is the 57th anniversary of the American Heart Month initiative. In most cases, heart disease is preventable through healthier lifestyle changes. Also, during the month, fundraising events go toward clinical research efforts to improve the care of those with heart disease. Here are some tips that are good for the heart and what research is doing to help.

Love Your Heart 

African American doctor listening to heart and lungs of Asian patient, heart health, heart disease clinical trials

Amid the pandemic, many have adopted unhealthier lifestyles that raises their risk for heart-related conditions. Smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are key risk factors for heart disease. Diabetes, unhealthy diet, alcohol abuse, physical inactivity, and obesity are medical conditions and lifestyle choices that raise that risk. Here are changes you can make to keep your heart healthy:

  • Get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week.
  • Quit smoking and refrain from drinking too much alcohol.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular checkups.
  • Control chronic conditions like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol.

Healthier living is a journey, but with the support of a community that drives heart-health, anything is possible. Get involved today by taking part in the 7 Days of Self Care initiative or other various events this month.

The Future of Heart Disease

Recently it was discovered that two newer classes of drugs used to treat Type 2 diabetes (SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 RA medications) had been shown to protect patients against heart disease and chronic kidney disease. This means other groups such as people with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction with or without Type 2 diabetes and people with chronic kidney disease who do not have Type 2 diabetes could benefit from these types of medications.

Heart failure research, older Caucasian male with glasses, smiling, heart disease research.

Clinical research must continue so that we can ensure millions of people live longer and healthier. The donations raised and volunteers who participate in research studies make these advancements possible. To learn how you can get involved in one of our heart-related studies with us here at ActivMed Practices & Research, call our Methuen, MA location at (978) 655-7155. You can also view a listing of studies on our website.

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/american_heart_month.htm

https://www.heart.org/en/around-the-aha/february-is-american-heart-month

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/american-heart-month/about

January 15, 2021
Diversity in COVID-19 research, pictures of 4 diverse people with masks

As we pass the first anniversary of the first reported case of COVID-19 in the U.S., a lot of uncertainty remains despite the tremendous progress. Diversity has been a challenge long before the coronavirus, and it’s vital to end the disproportionate impact in communities of color. As clinical research efforts continue to deliver new ways to detect, prevent, and treat COVID-19, study participants’ diversity will be more critical than ever.

Group of diverse people, diversity is important in clinical research

Importance of Diversity in Research

Genetics and biological makeup differ for every person. For vaccines, this means how antibodies are produced in one ethnic group can vary from others. Since the pandemic began, data gathered shows much higher rates of infection, hospitalization, and death in people of color.

Diversity also covers various age groups, gender, and backgrounds. Older individuals and those with underlying health conditions are more likely to suffer severe symptoms, hospitalizations, and death as well. The populations with the most significant risk stand to benefit the most from the new possibilities being developed for COVID-19. At the same time, they need to be tested in these groups to ensure they are safe and effective for everyone.

Disparity Causes

Historical mistreatment of minority populations in research studies fuels mistrust and prevents some from participating. Though safeguards, ethical laws, and oversight by the FDA have made research studies much safer, the past is still fresh in minds. Others feel they lack the tools to make it to appointments due to lack of transportation, inability to leave work early, childcare needs, and so on. The reality is that many studies offer options to help with those challenges, such as reimbursement for time and travel, transportation help, and extended hours.

By talking with the study office, you can learn more about the study, potential risks, and possible benefits. The commitment for each study varies. A vaccine study may last two years, while an antibody study may be  one visit for example. While there are criteria for each that must be met, flexibility of choice is always a bonus. Volunteering in clinical research studies is 100% voluntary throughout the entire process. You can end your commitment at any time in the event you cannot continue.

Rise up against COVID, participate in a research study

ActivMed Practices & Research is proud to be a part of history in the fight to end COVID-19. Our site participated in the large AstraZeneca vaccine study, as well as other antibody test studies. Get further details about enrolling COVID-19 studies here.

Without the selfless gift our volunteers offer, the progress made thus far wouldn’t be possible. To learn more about volunteering or view a current list of enrolling studies at each of our sites, visit our website.

References:

https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/11/30/diversity-covid-19-vaccine-trials/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2020/05/19/diversity-equity-and-inclusion-what-the-coronavirus-teaches-and-how-we-must-respond/?sh=8f5aaf4d0534

https://www.henryford.com/blog/2020/11/diversity-in-vaccine-trials

https://www.clinicalresearchnewsonline.com/news/2020/10/27/why-diversity-matters-covid-19-and-the-search-for-a-vaccine

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