Jul 302013

A new study by researchers at East Carolina University connects race with a higher chance of death following coronary bypass surgery among patients who also have peripheral artery disease.

The study, by surgeons and scientists at the Brody School of Medicine at ECU, shows black patients with PAD face a higher risk of death than whites among patients with PAD who undergo coronary artery bypass graft surgery.

The study is published in the July 2013 issue of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery and is online at http://bit.ly/15P0Gvc.

PAD is a disease in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head, organs and limbs. One in 20 Americans over the age of 50 has PAD, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Previous research has shown that PAD is more prevalent among blacks; however, the effect of race on long-term survival following CABG surgery had not been examined in this population.

The study examined the influence of race among patients with peripheral arterial disease who underwent surgery to repair blockages in the arteries that supply blood to the heart, said lead author Dr. Jimmy T. Efird, an epidemiologist and statistician at ECU.

Using data from the Brody School of Medicine, stored in the Society of Thoracic Surgery National Database, Efird, senior author and surgeon Dr. Alan P. Kypson and colleagues analyzed medical records for 13,053 patients who underwent first-time, isolated CABG at the East Carolina Heart Institute between 1992 and 2011. A total of 1,501 patients (11.5 percent) had PAD at the time of CABG surgery.

The researchers found that the median survival for patients with PAD was 9.2 years, compared to 15 years for patients without PAD. They also found that while the median survival was 9.5 years for white patients with PAD, it was eight years for black patients with PAD.

“In an era of personalized medicine and increased focus on quality, one of the ways in which we can significantly improve health care is to critically examine long-term outcomes in different populations in order to narrow the racial disparity gap that we know exists in medicine,” said Kypson.

The East Carolina Heart Institute is in the center of a low-income, rural region with a large black population. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in North Carolina, with an unequal burden occurring in eastern North Carolina, according to the authors.

“Our results highlight that the quality and quantity of health care should be extended to all groups for improved overall health and maximization of long-term survival after CABG surgery,” said Efird, an associate professor in the ECU Department of Public Health and epidemiologist/chief statistician in the ECU Center for Health Disparities Research. “We recommend that cardiothoracic surgeons and cardiologists continue to closely monitor black patients with PAD after CABG surgery with an understanding that they have an increased long-term risk of death compared with white patients.

“To a large extent, it is a resource problem,” Efird said. “Often black PAD patients will have ambulatory restrictions and may need special transportation to and from their follow-up visits that may not be fully covered by their health insurance or other government programs. Income disparities, fear of the medical system and historic discrimination also may exasperate the situation. The purpose of our outcomes research is to identify the problem so that we can lobby appropriate resources to help reverse racial health disparities in eastern North Carolina.”

Study co-authors were Dr. Wesley T. O’Neal, an ECU medical graduate now at Wake Forest University; his brother Dr. Jason B. O’Neal of Harvard University; and Drs. T. Bruce Ferguson and W. Randolph Chitwood Jr. of ECU.


Having a party? Here are some tips.

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Jul 262013

Amini03Dr. Debbie Amini, assistant professor and certified hand therapist, recently contributed to an article, “Summer Parties Made Easy” in the August/September issue of Living with Arthritis.   

From the article:  Setting up, grilling, time on your feet—it’s enough to make you shy away from hosting a cookout altogether. But it doesn’t have to be so exhausting! We asked certified hand therapist Debbie Amini, EdD, OTR/L,CHT, from the department of occupational therapy at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, for tips to help your party go smoothly. Here’s how to sidestep joint pain and fatigue while enjoying everything a barbecue has to offer—food, friends and fun!  Read the full article is HERE.

As needs change, Laupus works to stay ahead of the curve

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Jul 192013

When someone says ‘research,’ what pops into your head? For some, it’s a person crouched at a library carrel, nose in a book with notes strewn everywhere. For others, it’s someone in a white lab coat peering intently into a microscope.

At Laupus Library, we’re at the intersection of the academic and the clinical, and we’re always working to give our ECU health sciences students and faculty the tools they need to solve complex problems they encounter on a daily basis. Since their needs are constantly changing, we are always on the lookout for innovative resources that they can utilize. 

As highlighted by a recent article in The Guardian, the role of the academic library is shifting. The sources may be the same, but often those sources have moved online or to an e-books format. For example, the article cites a survey of medical academics that found four out of five wouldn’t mind if libraries dropped a medical journal’s print edition. The survey showed tremendous support for offering those medical journals strictly as an online resource.

At Laupus, we offer a multitude of journals in both print and e-editions to suit the needs and preferences of our students and faculty. We also are constantly adding new reference resources in addition to our huge wealth of textbooks and clinical guides.

So, come see us. Whether you prefer to thumb through a book or flip through a journal article on your iPad, we’re here to point you in the right direction and help you get started.


Frede earns certification while serving abroad

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Jul 152013
Pat Frede achievement July 2013

Front row: Petty Officer Palaganas, Chief Avila, Senior Chief Fortier, Senior Chief Frede, Master Chief Davis, and Petty Officer DeStefano Back Row: Petty Officer Lu, Chief Rankin, Petty Officer Miller, Petty Officer Curko, Senior Chief Ramnytz, Lieutenant Commander Prevatte, and Petty Officers Sanchez and Espos. Pictured with the awardees are their mentors (back row) who coached them, drilled them, and supported them through the process.

U.S. Navy veteran and reservist Pat Frede recently earned new certification while deployed to Africa. 

Frede, who leads fundraising for East Carolina University’s College of Allied Health Sciences, hopes to return to ECU in time for Homecoming, she said. She was deployed in December and has been in Africa since March while attached to the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.

Frede recently was one of six sailors with the Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command who earned the designation of Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Specialist. Each sailor had to complete a rigorous series of personnel qualification standards and demonstrate proficiency in expeditionary and combat skills by passing a written examination and a final qualification oral board.

Frede’s unit has been working to establish and enhance relations between military forces, governmental and non-governmental organizations and civilians. The group advises and assists local populations with their needs, ranging from establishing community watch programs to teaching villagers about protection of natural resources.

This is Frede’s second deployment in three years. She was in Afghanistan in 2009-2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

There, as part of her mission, Frede was embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps Female Engagement Teams who worked to develop relationships of trust and mutual respect with Afghan women, who generally aren’t allowed to have contact with men outside their families.

She also taught a course on the teams’ relevance in counterinsurgency and stability operations. She earned a presidential unit citation for the work in Helmand province.


This student loves the “we’re all in this together” mentality at ECU

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Jul 092013

k dewald

Kelly Dewald is a graduate student currently pursuing her master’s degree in substance abuse and clinical counseling at East Carolina University.  She describes why she chose this field and what it’s like to be a pirate at ECU!

What made you choose substance abuse and clinical counseling as your career?

I have always been interested in the ways that people can experience similar events yet use different coping strategies (including maladaptive ones) to deal with those events. I find that helping people deal with roots of their issues will lead to greater success in their desired abstinence. I also had opportunity to gain experience in a research setting with alcohol use and wanted to continue my education in the same field at the graduate level. I love gaining the knowledge and experience to one day help others. I see this as a way of giving back and helping people find ways to be happy and healthy throughout their lives.

Tell me more about being a rehabilitation counseling/substance abuse counseling student at East Carolina University.

You will definitely stay busy and active while being in the program. I feel that this program not only gives you the tools of becoming a counselor but also I have learned a lot about myself and have grown as a person from the experiences and classes I have taken. I have really felt supported by my cohort as well as the faculty in my program, which I think really helped with my success here. There is definitely a “we are all in this together mentality” here which I found beneficial. The mix of experiential as well as regular classes really gives you a taste of the field.

What would you tell a prospective student about ECU?

Do not get too stressed out about the application process!  Just apply, be yourself and it will all work out. This is a wonderful program but just make sure this is the right fit for you.

Kelly received her BS in Psychology from Florida State University where she also gained three years of research experience working in an alcohol studies lab within the Department of Psychology. Her goals are to work with dual-diagnosis clients as well as the offender and involuntary commitment populations with hopes of working both in the clinical and research settings.

For more information about the MS in Substance Abuse and Clinical Counseling degree, contact Dr. Shari Sias at siass@ecu.edu.