Category: Clinical Research

November 12, 2021
Healthy skin month

November marks the celebration of the body’s largest organ, the skin. Nevertheless, it’s no secret that having healthy skin starts with taking care of it all year round. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology sponsors National Healthy Skin Month each year, and their website features a wealth of resources on what it takes to keep the skin healthy, as well as advice from dermatology experts on how to treat and prevent common skin problems.

Your Skin Is Important Because…

It serves many essential functions like:

  • Protection against trauma
  • Regulation of body temperature
  • Maintaining the balance of water and electrolytes
  • Recognizing painful and pleasant stimuli
  • Helps in synthesizing vitamin D

The skin keeps vital nutrients in the body while providing a barrier against dangerous substances from entering the body. For example, it provides a shield from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Moreover, the color of your skin, its texture, and folds help differentiate people as individuals. The skin consists of three layers, and each is responsible for performing specific tasks.

  • Epidermis– The outermost layer of the skin that creates a waterproof barrier and skin tone.
  • Dermis– The next layer of the skin that gives the skin its flexibility and strength. The dermis contains nerve endings, sweat glands, oil glands, hair follicles, and blood vessels.
  • Fat layer– Below the dermis is a layer of fat that helps insulate the body from heat and cold. It also provides protective padding and is used as an energy storage area.

#YourHealthiestSkin

Hands holding up various skin care products

You can celebrate National Healthy Skin Month by:

  • Visiting the AAD website to learn ways to take care of your skin better by exploring one of their many online resource articles.
  • Sharing your healthy skin story on social media using the hashtag #YourHealthiestSkin
  • Doing a self-skin check for changes and potential spots for skin cancer. See a dermatologist immediately for any concerns.

Furthermore, managing chronic skin conditions can be challenging, especially when symptoms persist despite trying several options. Participating in clinical research studies is a great way to potentially gain access to the newest cutting-edge options before being made available to the public. Clinical research volunteers can also have the opportunity to learn more about their condition from study medical staff, which may even lead to the better management of conditions.

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema

ActivMed Practices & Research has several dermatology studies currently enrolling that are looking into possible new options. Explore your options today by clicking here for our Beverly, MA location and here for our Portsmouth, NH office.

Sources:

https://www.aad.org/public/public-health/awareness-campaigns/national-healthy-skin-month

https://nationaltoday.com/national-healthy-skin-month/

September 24, 2021
September is Pain Awareness Month

Did you know that over 50 million Americans are living with chronic pain? September is Pain Awareness Month, and its initiative is to raise awareness about the issues that sufferers face every day. In the race to advance chronic pain management, clinical research studies are here to provide a path for bringing improved therapies closer to the patients who need them.

Managing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can originate from many sources. These include injuries, illnesses, and prolonged physical, emotional, or social stress. Though the brain decides when you are in pain, this does not mean that the pain is in your head. For instance, a broken body part isn’t always the cause of pain. The more signals received to the brain, the more the brain labels the signals as pain. When this occurs, it often prolongs the difficulties that come with experiencing pain.

These tips, when used consistently and together, can help you manage chronic pain:

  1. Try whole-body stretches, gentle yoga, or tai chi for about 10 to 15 minutes daily.
  2. Stay active.
  3. Reduce stress and practice relaxation techniques.
  4. Pace yourself.
  5. Address other conditions that worsen the pain.
  6. Managing pain often means creating opportunities to be positive. Taking part in enjoyable activities has been shown to decrease the effects of pain signals in the body.
  7. Stay connected with others.
  8.  Get the sleep you need.

Pain Awareness Month

September marks a time to raise public awareness around pain, pain management, and the great work pain professionals do during the month and beyond.

This year, the focus is on the vital importance of an individualized, multidisciplinary, and multimodal approach to pain care. Use the tools on the International Association for the Study of Pain’s webpage to share important information on social media, access the latest research and science around pain, and help shed light on the pain field.

Chronic pain signals remain active in the NERVOUS system

Potential new options are being evaluated in clinical research studies for chronic pain. You can get involved in helping to improve healthcare for individuals with chronic pain by volunteering in clinical research studies.

To learn more about the studies enrolling at our Methuen, MA location, click here, or call (978) 655-7155. Other studies involving potential new therapies for conditions that cause chronic pain are enrolling, too. Click the links to explore these studies at our Portsmouth, NH, Beverly, MA, and Lawrence, MA locations.

Sources:

https://uspainfoundation.org/painawarenessmonth/

https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/8-tips-for-managing-chronic-pain

https://www.apa.org/topics/pain/management

August 30, 2021
RSV season is right around the corner

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is so common that most children get it before the age of two years. Healthy people usually experience mild, cold-like symptoms and recover within a week or two. However, the RSV virus can have serious effects on older adults, as well. In the U.S. specifically, RSV has caused an estimated 177,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths in people aged 65 and older every year.

Here’s what you need to know to have a better understanding of the virus.

What is RSV?

RSV is a virus that causes respiratory illness which covers the nose, throat, and lungs. It typically mimics a mild cold leading to symptoms, such as:

  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Dry cough
  • Low-grade fever
  • Sore throat
  • Sneezing
  • Headache

In severe cases, the infection can spread to the lower respiratory tract, causing inflammation of the small airway passages entering the lungs. Examples of severe infection symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Severe, persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish color of the skin due to lack of oxygen

Causes and Risk Factors

RSV symptoms usually begin within 4 to 6 days after exposure, and infected individuals are generally contagious for 3 to 8 days. The virus can be transmitted in several ways. For example, it can be spread through the respiratory droplets of an infected person, touching contaminated surfaces with the virus on them, or direct contact, like kissing the face of anyone with RSV.

While people of any age can get RSV, those at the highest risk for severe disease include:

  • Premature infants
  • Young children with heart or lung diseases
  • Adults and young children with compromised immune systems
  • Older adults, particularly those with pre-existing heart or lung disease

Prevention and Treatment

To prevent the spread of RSV, experts recommend engaging in health-protective behaviors. These behaviors include proper handwashing, avoiding close contact with others, covering coughs and sneezes, and not sharing personal items. Frequently cleaning toys and surfaces is essential, too.

Most RSV infections resolve on their own in a week or two, and for those who have contracted RSV, there are treatment options available. These options consist of self-care measures to make patients more comfortable, as well as over-the-counter therapies that help clear congestion, reduce fever, and keep people hydrated. However, if severe symptoms persist, you may need hospital care.

RSV can negatively impact older adults

Fortunately, researchers are working to develop vaccines and treatments to help fight RSV, as potential new options are currently being evaluated in clinical research studies. If you’re an adult over the age of 60 and are interested in learning about how you can get involved with upcoming RSV studies here at ActivMed Practices & Research, please call us today at (978) 969-6897!

Sources:

https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/rsv/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/respiratory-syncytial-virus/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353104

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/RSV-When-Its-More-Than-Just-a-Cold.aspx

August 10, 2021
Protection is important. Learn more about vaccine trials in our blog

With back to school in full force, it’s fitting August is also National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). The annual event highlights the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Immunization is the single most crucial health measure you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Vaccine Importance

Vaccines are much like a manual for your body that shows how to recognize and defeat a harmful disease. Scientists and researchers take weakened or dead parts of a virus in the vaccination. This exposes your body to an illness so it can create antibodies for it—all without the risk of complications from a live version.

Vaccines save lives

Over 20 widely used vaccines are available today for severe illnesses like measles, meningitis, pneumonia, smallpox, and polio. Many of these diseases once ran rampant, leaving trails of death, disability, or serious illness. For example, smallpox has killed an estimated 300 million people since 1900. Thanks to widespread immunization efforts that eradicated it in 1977.

Though eradicated, the germs that cause smallpox and other viruses we vaccinate against continue to circulate in parts of the world. Now more than ever, the ease at which illnesses can travel to other parts of the world means we are all at risk. The World Health Organization estimates vaccines save over 4 million children alone every year.

National Immunization Awareness Month

NIAM is the perfect time to get with your health provider. They can ensure you and your loved ones are current on your vaccines and answer any questions you may have. The CDC has an interactive guide and other immunization tools to see recommendations by age group. You can also spread the word to others by using the hashtag #NationalImmunizationAwarenessMonth in social media correspondence.

Participating in clinical research studies may also be an option for those interested in getting vaccinated. ActivMed Practices & Research has current opportunities to get involved in now, and more are starting soon. At the moment, we are enrolling participants for meningitis vaccine studies at our Beverly, MA and Methuen, MA locations.

Protection: Don't Go Anywhere without it

Our COVID-19 vaccine booster studies that include either the flu or shingles immunization will begin enrolling shortly. We also have an RSV vaccine study starting soon too! To add your name to our list to call for additional information, click here to select your location for contact information or fill out the “future studies” form to submit your information electronically.

Sources:

https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/vaccines-and-immunization-what-is-vaccination

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-immunization-awareness-month-august/

https://www.history.com/news/the-rise-and-fall-of-smallpox

July 26, 2021
How does the sun affect your skin conditions?

Summer typically means spending more time outside doing all the summer-y things most of us love. However, the increased exposure to sunlight and heated air can turn some skin conditions upside-down. Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to avoid flare-ups during the summer, which can quickly ruin your fun. Here are a few examples.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Summer

For Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), it is clear that prolonged exposure to heat exacerbates symptoms. You can still enjoy the summer by taking a few precautions along the way, such as:

  • Wear lightweight clothing to keep you cool. Opt for fabrics with UV protection and that are made from lightweight materials like polyester that are moisture-wicking.
  • Drink enough water to keep hydrated throughout the day. Also, supplement with coconut water, homemade juices, and smoothies to change things up.
  • Avoid direct sun as much as possible. Use a portable mini fan to help in other cases.

Don't let HS cause you distress

Keep in mind it’s also important to be mindful of how your body always feels. Always be on the lookout for signs you may be getting overheated. Two of the most common heat-related illness are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Some symptoms are dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea, confusion, fast pulse, and elevated body temperature.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) and Summer

When UV therapy is a treatment for eczema-prone skin, you may wonder why summer isn’t always sweet for individuals who have it. Sweating is the number one enemy in the summer since it contains various things that can irritate broken skin, like that in eczema. Typically, it worsens in areas that trap moisture like the elbows, back of the neck, or the backs of the knees. Beat summer eczema flare-ups with these tips:

  • Avoid sweating by staying cool. Stick to the shade when outside, and drink plenty of water to keep your body temperature at an average level.
  • Choose a mineral sunscreen versus a chemical one. These should have the words “physical” or “mineral” on the bottle with ingredients in them like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
  • Rinse off after swimming and change out of wet clothes as soon as possible. If you can’t rinse off, keep a spray bottle with clean water and spray off your skin. Always bring a dry change of clothes to change into if you get sweaty or after swimming.

Stop hiding and start living with eczema

Beat the Summer Heat. Join a Dermatology Study Today!

Many of the tips above are great when managing most skin conditions this summer, along with keeping your skin moisturized. If you’re still looking for a way to give back this summer and beat the heat, consider one of our enrolling dermatology studies here at ActivMed Practices & Research. We have studies for psoriasis, eczema, hidradenitis suppurativa, facial acne, and more! To learn more, click to visit our Beverly, MA, and Portsmouth, NH locations for details today!

Sources:

https://www.everydayhealth.com/eczema/strategies-avoiding-eczema-flare-ups-summer/

https://hsdisease.com/living/beat-heat

https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/routine/prevent-summer-skin-problems

July 6, 2021
Ever wondered the affect chocolate has on migraines

On July 7th, chocolate lovers around the globe will guiltlessly indulge in their favorite treat during World Chocolate Day. Though chocolate connoisseurs may argue the benefits of responsible consumption, its impact on migraines isn’t always clear. Is it a trigger or a warning of an impending attack? In truth, the relationship between chocolate and your migraine is as unique as you are.

To Eat, or Not to Eat

Migraines are often triggered by different environmental, physical, and emotional factors. Changes in routine, dehydration, and stress are the most common. Excessive consumption of caffeinated products can contribute to the onset of a migraine. All chocolate has some caffeine in it. So, if that is a trigger for your migraines, you may want to consider that.

Box of chocolates

On the other hand, many people reportedly crave sweet food such as chocolate before the pain of a migraine. This leads them to conclude that eating sweets are causing their migraines. However, sometimes those cravings are symptoms of the beginning of an attack. Identifying what’s triggering your migraines and recognizing common symptoms before an attack are both crucial in managing your condition better. Therefore, knowing how chocolate affects your migraines is one way to help!

World Chocolate Day

Since 2009, World Chocolate Day celebrates all kinds of goodies made from chocolate. It is also the anniversary of when chocolate was first brought over from Europe on July 7th, 1550. Since then, the dark treat has led to the creation of chocolate milk, hot chocolate, chocolate candy bars, chocolate cake, brownies, and many other favorites. You can join in the chocolate-themed celebration by enjoying your favorite dessert, reading a related book, or learn more about chocolates around the world. Whatever you do, share it on social media using the hashtag #WorldChocolateDay!

Although the effects of chocolate are unique to each person with migraines, a surer way to help migraine symptoms is through clinical research studies. By participating in migraine research studies, you play a personal role in advancing options for current and future generations. You also learn more about your condition and may gain access to potential new opportunities not yet available to the public.

Migraines are also common in children, which drives the need for designing age-appropriate therapies for safer, more effective outcomes. ActivMed Practices & Research is currently enrolling migraine studies for children aged 6-17 at our Lawrence, MA location. To learn more, call (978) 992-4239 or visit our website.

Sources:

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/world-chocolate-day/

https://www.migrainetrust.org/about-migraine/trigger-factors/common-triggers/

 

 

June 28, 2021
OCD isn

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a chronic anxiety disorder that affects 1 in 40 Americans. Neatness and germaphobia are often what come to mind when people hear the term. In actuality, these are some of many rituals created to satisfy repeated, unwanted thoughts. OCD isn’t uniform and goes beyond a color-coded planner or organized pantry. It is so much more.

Obsession Categories and Associated Compulsions

OCD is a never-ending cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts or urges that repeatedly play out in patients’ minds, creating immense anxiety and stress. These typically warn of impending doom which triggers a patient’s compulsion to act out certain behaviors or rituals to dispel the thoughts or relieve stress. The relief is only short-term, and the thoughts return, and the cycle is repeated over and over-consuming an hour, sometimes several each day.

Those with OCD know their thoughts and actions are not rational and wish they could be free of them but feel helpless to stop them. For instance, suppressing OCD behaviors end up worsening symptoms, so it’s not something you can stop on your own. There are several categories of obsessions and various associated compulsive behaviors. These generally include:

Common Obsessions:

  • Intrusive Thoughts
  • Unwanted Thoughts
  • Repetitive Thoughts
  • Racing Thoughts
  • Violent Thoughts
  • Sexual Thoughts
  • Religious Blasphemy Thoughts

Common compulsions:

  • Avoidance
  • Reassurance Seeking
  • Checking
  • Hand Washing
  • Excessive Prayer
  • Counting
  • Comparison Seeking
  • Excessive Guilt

Education, Healthy Living, and Treatment

OCD can severely impact one’s social, emotional, and work-related areas of life. However, with effective treatment, healthier lifestyle, and education, most experienced improved symptoms and quality of life.

New tools and ideas on how to better help people with OCD are being investigated in clinical research studies and providing hope to patients. Through patient collaboration, we continue to gain knowledge that improves the lives of current and future generations.

OCD is more than perfectionism

To learn more about enrolling OCD studies with ActivMed Practices & Research, contact our Methuen, MA office at (978) 655-7155 or visit our website.

Sources:

https://beyondocd.org/information-for-college-students/symptoms-of-ocd

https://iocdf.org/about-ocd/

June 18, 2021
Don

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection found throughout the United States and every continent except Antarctica. More than 475,000 Americans are diagnosed every year, but experts believe it is much higher. Lyme disease is treatable, but symptoms are often misdiagnosed as other conditions. Without treatment, the infection can progress into more severe symptoms. Guarding your family against Lyme disease involves a little surveillance and a good plan of defense.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense

Protecting your family from Lyme disease is a multi-faceted approach. To begin, you need to know how the infection occurs. Lyme disease is caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi transmitted through the bite of an infected black-legged tick. Avoiding contact with this type of tick is the ultimate goal in a combination of the following measures:

  • Surveillance: Check recent surveillance maps of cases reported in your area to see where the infection rate is more widespread. Remember, these are only cases reported, so the map data can only go so far.
  • Avoiding Hot Spots: The ticks that can cause Lyme disease mainly live in wooded, bushy areas with long grass. Avoid walking in these areas.
  • Repellants, Clothing Care, and Self-Checks:
    • Repellants– Use one with a DEET concentration of 20% or higher. Apply products with permethrin to clothing or buy pretreated materials.
    • Clothing Care– When in tick hot spots, wear long-sleeved shirts, hats, and gloves. Removed clothing immediately once home and wash and dry on high heat.
    • Self-checks– Shower as soon as you get home with a washcloth to remove any unattached ticks. Check your body from head to toe. Underdeveloped ticks called nymphs are the primary transmitters and are about the size of a poppy seed, so look carefully.

It starts with a tick bite and can end with a chronic illness

Adopting these steps should reduce your chances of Lyme disease significantly. If you discover a tick has attached itself, it will be early and mostly means it didn’t have the 3-4 days it needs to transmit the infection. Even so, alert your provider immediately and keep a lookout for symptoms. You can find a checklist of common symptoms here.

Improving Detection 

There is currently no test determining whether a patient has an active infection or whether the infection has been eliminated by treatment. Available lab tests help identify antibodies to the bacteria, which your body takes a few weeks to make after an infection. This makes early diagnosis difficult with lab tests alone, so symptom history, tick prevalence in the area, and other factors are used to close the gap in diagnosis accuracy.

Potential new detection options are under evaluation in clinical research studies, and we need your help! ActivMed Practices & Research is currently seeking participants aged seven and older to join enrolling Lyme disease studies. Individuals currently experiencing Lyme disease symptoms have recently been diagnosed, and those with no prior history of Lyme Disease are welcome to apply.

Don't let Lyme disease ruin your summer

The studies are being conducted at our Methuen, MA, Beverly, MA, and Portsmouth, NH locations. Click here to select your preferred clinic location, view additional information, and application submission.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20374651

https://www.lymedisease.org/lyme-basics/lyme-disease/about-lyme/

https://www.aldf.com/

 

 

May 27, 2021

Binge eating disorder (BED) involves the repeated compulsion to eat large quantities of food. BED isn’t a lifestyle choice but rather a never-ending cycle you have no control over. It is one of the newest eating disorders the DSM-V recognizes, yet the most common in American. Extreme overeating is one of the many signs you might be binge eating. Let’s look into the others.

Urge, Compulsion, Shame, Repeat. 

Binge eating disorder involves recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food followed by feelings of distress and shame afterward. The amount of food is beyond what anyone would want to eat and often consumed very quickly and to the point of discomfort. Those with BED are aware of their actions but have little control to stop them. They may fast between episodes but do not regularly use other countermeasures to get rid of food or calories by vomiting or excessive laxative use, for example. While it’s common for patients with BED to be overweight, not everyone is.

Binge eating disorder has psychological, behavioral, and physical symptoms that also include:

  • Feeling uncomfortable eating around others
  • Stomach problems, cramping
  • Eating even when already full or not hungry
  • Noticeable fluctuations in weight both up and down
  • Hoarding or stealing food and storing it in strange places
  • Frequently eating alone or in secret
  • Dieting often

Long-term physical effects of binge eating can be permanent, even fatal, if not treated in time. A few examples are obesity, heart disease, diabetes, esophagus and stomach damage, and sleep apnea.

Treating Binge Eating Disorder

Treatment for BED aims to reduce the frequency of episodes, manage thoughts related to bingeing, and improve mood. Weight loss and metabolic health[HW1]  are addressed as needed for patients at most risk (such as diabetes) but should not be the focus. Cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) are the basis of most approaches to BED. CBT is a form of talk therapy. It shows you how to deal with negative behavior patterns by breaking them down into smaller parts.

Vyvanse is the first FDA-approved medication to treat moderate to severe binge eating disorders in adults. Topamax, an anti-convulsant, and some antidepressants have also been shown to help control episodes and other symptoms. Additional options are currently under investigation in clinical research studies.

BED Symptoms Can Feel Uncontrollable. Take Charge Today!

Have you been diagnosed with BED and frustrated with current treatment options? ActivMed Practices & Research is now enrolling studies for individuals diagnosed with binge eating disorder that may help. Get involved today and help advance medicine for BED. Call us at (978) 655-7155, or visit our website for more information.

References:

https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/types/binge-eating-disorder

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/learn/by-eating-disorder/bed

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/binge-eating-disorder/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353633

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

April 10, 2021
Beneath the surface of skin issues

Many different skin issues exist in the world today. Ranging in severity and various causes, some conditions affect the skin and other parts of the body. Individuals with skin issues often face unseen challenges that lurk beneath the surface. Therefore, managing the complicated nature of skin conditions sometimes requires a collaboration of healthcare providers. Together, they can address the physical, emotional, and social impacts and ensure the overall health of each patient.

Function and Appearance

The skin is a living organism and the body’s largest organ. The skin is also the protective barrier that covers our body and gives rise to our hair, nails, and sweat glands. Also, our sense of touch (hot, cold, and pressure) comes from the skin. Protecting virtually all of our organs, it functions in cooling us in the heat and keeping us warm when we get cold. Your skin is also the most visible of all our organs and is an essential player in viewing ourselves.

Psoriasis isn't just about what's on your skin

Dermatologists specialize in skin and the conditions that may affect it. A few of the most common skin issues are:

  • Acne
  • Atopic Dermatitis – Eczema
  • Hives
  • Sunburn
  • Rosacea

When the Mind and Skin Interact

Skin issues can have powerful effects on the mind, especially severe ones. Some skin conditions can also worsen in the presence of specific emotional states. In more advanced cases, treating the skin condition and addressing its emotional impacts may be necessary. Psychodermatology involves the interaction between the mind and the skin. There are three categories of psychodermatologic disorders:

  • Psychophysiological disorders
    • React to emotional states such as stress.
  • Primary psychiatric disorders
    • Psychiatric conditions that result in skin manifestations like trichotillomania.
  • Secondary psychiatric disorders
    • Associated with disfiguring skin conditions resulting in psychological problems such as low self-esteem, depression, and social phobia.

Options for Treating Skin Issues

Most skin disorders are treatable, are managed in varying ways. However, most conditions may reappear due to specific triggers, such as stress or illness. Lifestyle changes in addition to your doctor’s treatment plan may help reduce flare-ups. Common therapies include:

  • Topical– Medicated creams and ointments
  • Oral-Antibiotics and prescription medications
  • Injections– Biologics, steroid, or vitamin injections
Skin problems? We've got a trial for that

Clinical research is vital to adequately cover the complexities of the numerous disorders of the skin in existence. As we learn more about these conditions, improved ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent them can be designed. To learn more about the dermatology studies enrolling here at ActivMed Practices & Research, visit our Portsmouth, NH website, or Beverly, MA.

References:

https://www.drugs.com/slideshow/most-common-skin-conditions-1086

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2001/1201/p1873.html

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

×
Beverly, MA

×
Methuen, MA

×
Portsmouth, NH

×
Lawrence, MA

×