News Briefs


Low-Dose Aspirin a No-Go for Low-Risk Patients Says USPSTF

heart disease and mental illness

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has released its final recommendations on low-dose aspirin therapy for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults. The guidance aligns with what the American Heart Association said in 2019:

• People with a history of atrial fibrillation (AFib), heart attack, vascular stenting, or stroke should continue to take low-dose aspirin.

• People with no history of cardiovascular disease or stroke should not take low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke.

Low-risk adults with a higher risk for bleeding should not take low-dose aspirin. Because of the blood-thinning effects of aspirin, for most adults, the risk of bleeding may be greater than the number of heart attacks or strokes actually prevented.

• Some middle-aged adults may benefit from low-dose aspirin therapy if they are at high risk for heart attack or stroke owing to risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or significant family history.

“We continue to urge clinicians to be extremely selective when prescribing aspirin for adults without known cardiovascular disease,” notes Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, FAHA, president of the American Heart Association.

“For example, people with higher risk for gastric or intracerebral bleeding should not take aspirin to prevent a CV event. Aspirin should be limited to only those adults at the highest risk for cardiovascular disease due to the presence and severity of other risk factors, such as smoking, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or significant family history, who also have a very low risk of bleeding. Some recent evidence also indicates some people with higher coronary calcium scores, >100 units, indicating higher plaque burden and risk, may also benefit from aspirin therapy if they have no history of prior bleeding.”

Low-dose aspirin is not appropriate to prevent a first heart attack or stroke in most people. Instead, most people would benefit from lifestyle changes. “Various research studies over the past two decades indicate more than 80% of all cardiovascular events may be prevented by healthy lifestyle changes and management of known risk factors (like high blood pressure and adverse cholesterol levels) with medication when needed,” notes Dr. Lloyd-Jones.

“Eating healthy foods and beverages, regular physical activity, and not smoking are key. The scientific evidence continues to confirm healthy lifestyle habits and effectively managing blood pressure and cholesterol are the top ways to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, not low-dose aspirin.”


VillageMD Expanding in Massachusetts

WebMd and Walgreens

Walgreens Boots Alliance and VillageMD are planning to open 10 new Village Medical at Walgreens locations in Massachusetts by the beginning of 2023. The first will be in Quincy, with more to follow in the Boston area.

With these new openings, VillageMD and Walgreens will have opened more than 100 practices across 13 markets, including Arizona, Florida, Texas, Kentucky and Indiana. The companies are on track to open more than 200 primary care practices by the end of 2022, more than 600 by 2025 and 1,000 by 2027, with more than half of those practices in medically underserved communities.

The new practices will create more than 350 full-time jobs and employ more than 150 STEM professionals, such as physicians, nurse practitioners and medical assistants.


EnsembleIQ Brandlab Wins Awards for Digital Excellence


EIQ BrandLab, a full-service strategic marketing and creative agency operated by CCC's parent company EnsembleIQ, received seven AVA Digital Awards in an international competition administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. The program recognizes excellence by creative professionals responsible for the planning, concept, direction, design, and production of digital communications. 

Each of the award-winning entries was developed in partnership with clients ranging from CPG brands to enterprise technology companies.   

Platinum Awards


Gold Awards

 “EIQ BrandLab aspires to be a true firebrand in business marketing, and we’re honored to work with some of the most forward-thinking companies in retail, health care, and hospitality. We are very proud to have been recognized by the AVA Digital Awards for our work,” said Darren Ursino, Vice President, Brand Engagement, EnsembleIQ.

 “The redesigned EnsembleIQ corporate website, created by EIQ BrandLab, has been well received by our audience. We are very pleased to have received this honor from the AVA Digital Awards,” said Joe Territo, Executive Vice President, Content and Communications, EnsembleIQ.

To learn more about EnsembleIQ, visit Stay connected with EnsembleIQ on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.



Kansas NPs Granted Full Practice Authority

Doctor with pediatric patient

Kansas is the 26th state to adopt full practice authority (FPA) for nurse practitioners.

FPA allows NPs to evaluate patients, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and initiate and manage treatments under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing. This regulatory framework eliminates requirements for NPs to hold a state-mandated contract with a physician as a condition of state licensure and to provide patient care.

"This law is a necessary step toward eliminating health care disparities, managing costs and building the health care workforce for Kansas," said Jon Fanning, chief executive officer of The American Association of Nurse Practitioners.

"States that have adopted Full Practice Authority are better positioned to address these critical issues. Today, patients in most states have full and direct access to NPs and these benefits. We call on the remaining states to follow suit and modernize their licensure laws to ensure patients have full and direct access to high-quality, nurse practitioner-delivered care."

"This is a major milestone in health care for Kansas and for our nation," said April N. Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP- BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN, president of AANP. "We celebrate as Kansas becomes the 26th state to grant patients full and direct access to nurse practitioners' care. The majority of states have now adopted this legislative model, known as Full Practice Authority."



New Material Could Expand Oral Drug Offerings


A newly developed material may one day increase the number of medications that can be taken orally and allow clinicians to more efficiently deliver the right dosages of drugs.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst engineered a polyzwitterionic complex (pZC) that can “withstand the harsh acidic conditions of the stomach and then dissolve predictably in the comparatively gentle environment of the small intestine,” according to a press release.

Currently, many drugs don't make it to the small intestine intact. “The doses of oral medications are usually larger than what our body really needs,” explains Murugappan Muthukumar, the Wilmer D. Barrett Professor in Polymer Science and Engineering at UMass Amherst and the study’s senior author. “This is because some of the medication decomposes in the stomach.”

Further, some drugs can’t withstand the stomach’s harshly acidic environment at all and must instead be injected or implanted.

The new material could solve this dilemma. In it, two types of charged polymers, a polyzwitterion and a polyelectrolyte, associate to form a protective droplet inside of which medications can travel. The researchers weakened the association between the two, which allows them to control when they come apart.

 “This is a foundational technology that can alter how we treat disease,” says Margossian. “We hope that our work will make its way into clinicians’ hands and help them save lives.”



Gut Microbiome and Food Cravings

COVID affects gut health

Gut microbes influence what animals choose to eat, making substances that prompt cravings for different kinds of foods, according to new research on published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

When Dr. Kohl and Brian Trevelline, PhD, gave mice that lacked gut microbes a collection of microorganisms from three species of wild rodents with very different natural diets, they found that mice in each group chose food rich in different nutrients. The microbiome, they concluded, changed their preferred diet.

"We all have those urges -- like if you ever you just feel like you need to eat a salad or you really need to eat meat," said Kevin Kohl, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Biology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. "Our work shows that animals with different compositions of gut microbes choose different kinds of diets."

The gut and brain are always communicating. The molecules that are byproducts of digestion can signal that that you need certain nutrients or that you’ve even enough. Gut microbes can produce some of those same molecules, potentially hijacking that line of communication and changing the meaning of the message to benefit themselves.

Consider tryptophan, an essential amino acid that's common in turkey but is also produced by gut microbes. “When it makes its way to the brain, it's transformed into serotonin, which is a signal that's important for feeling satiated after a meal," Dr. Trevelline said in a press release. "Eventually that gets converted into melatonin, and then you feel sleepy."

The researchers found that mice with different microbiomes had different levels of tryptophan in their blood, even before they were given the option to choose different diets. Mice with more tryptophan also had more bacteria that can produce it in their gut.

"There are likely dozens of signals that are influencing feeding behavior on a day-to-day basis,” Dr. Trevelline said. While the science is interesting, it’s only been proven in an animal model. Further, the study was limited. "Humans have way more going on that we ignore in our experiment,” Dr. Kohl noted. “But it's an interesting idea to think about."