Media Coverage

The work done by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty members (and even some students) is regularly highlighted in newspapers, online media outlets and more. Below you’ll find links to articles and videos of Feinberg in the news.

A man’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, however he is helping her remember through music. “Alzheimer’s disease has crushed Marti’s memory. At this stage, she cannot form a word. But somehow the pathway to musical melodies remains clear,” Adam says. “And it is along this pathway that she and I are able to communicate.” According to a study from Northwestern University, many Alzheimer’s patients can still recall melodies from their past because the cerebellum, where musical memories are processed, is affected later in the disease. This allows patients like Marti to recognize and enjoy the music they’ve always loved, even after they can no longer speak. A series of new treatment options in 2023 has shown promise for the millions of Americans with Alzheimer’s. This July, the Food and Drug Administration gave full approval for Leqembi, the first drug shown to slow the disease. And a new experimental drug called donanemab, which was found to slow Alzheimer’s progression by about 35%, has been submitted to the FDA for approval. A decision is expected by the end of 2023. However, both of these new drugs can only slow the disease, not stop or reverse it.

Medication abortions accounts for more than half of all abortions performed in the U.S. It involves taking two prescription medications: mifepristone, followed by misoprostal. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, which supports a healthy pregnancy, and misoprostol causes uterine cramping and shedding of the endometrium. A “reversal” involves giving doses of progesterone after mifepristone is taken — but before misoprostol is taken — to try to prevent pregnancy loss. (Supplemental progesterone is used to try to lower the risk of miscarriage in certain pregnancies, Lauren Streicher, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, shares. But this reversal treatment isn’t supported by science. The idea of an abortion reversal comes from a 2012 case series on six women who took mifepristone and were then given different doses of progesterone. Four of those women continued with their pregnancies, but ACOG points out that it’s difficult to know if the progesterone caused the pregnancies to continue or if other factors were at play. The study also did not have a control group (i.e., patients who did not take progesterone after mifepristone) and is therefore considered weak evidence, ACOG says. Taking mifepristone alone also isn’t a guarantee that an abortion will work, Streicher says: “The reason you use mifepristone and misoprostol is that if you use mifepristone alone, it doesn’t always work.”

Fentanyl has made headlines for years, with the narcotic being blamed for the deaths of Prince, Tom Petty and Mac Miller. But more recent reports have linked the drug to children and teens – and some have died from accidental fentanyl exposure. It doesn’t take much fentanyl to do harm. “Fentanyl is very potent — it’s 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine,” Kristine Cieslak, MD, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Lurie Children’s at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, tells Yahoo Life. “As little as 2 milligrams can be lethal in adults and even smaller amounts can cause death in children.” Pills that have been laced with fentanyl may look like candy and be swallowed by children if they’re found at a park or in a home. The medication can also cause drowsiness, nausea, confusion, unconsciousness and stroke, Cieslak says. “Fentanyl moves fast, which is why it’s important to call 911 immediately if you suspect your child has been exposed, Cieslak says. “First responders carry Narcan and can administer this lifesaving medication,” she explains. “Narcan reverses an opioid overdose by blocking the effects of opiates on the brain and restoring breathing. Seconds or minutes count and can be the difference between life or death, so parents should not attempt to drive their child to the emergency department.”

In a new Northwestern Medicine study in the journal Sleep Medicine, researchers reviewed treatment on non-rapid-eye-movement disorders, like sleep apnea, insomnia and “arousal disorders” to find that sexsomnia, sleepwalking or sleeptalking and sleep terrors have few guidelines for treatment. Arousal disorders can involve things like sleep eating, engaging in sexual activity during sleep, walking, running or even driving while asleep and the intense fear of terrors, according to a Northwestern Medicine press release. However, unlike nearly every other type of sleep disorder, there are no consensus treatment guidelines for arousal disorders, Jennifer Mundt, PhD, led author of the study and assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said in the release. “These disorders can be dangerous and result in injuries to the sleeper or loved ones, so it’s important that symptoms are evaluated and treated,” Mundt said in the release. “And we need to have guidelines, so patients are getting the most effective treatment, which is not necessarily a medication.” Mundt found that the treatments with the most evidence about their effectiveness are cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnosis, sleep hygiene and scheduled awakenings, in which a sleeper is is woken up before they usually have an episode.

Growing up on the South Side of Chicago as the child of Mexican immigrants who primarily spoke Spanish, Dr. Daniel Meza was often asked to translate for his parents during medical appointments. “It’s a skill that I grew up with, having that technical language,” Meza said. “I just recall how stressful it was for my parents when they were in clinics, and as well as for myself, being a small child.” Two months ago, Meza, an assistant professor of medicine in pulmonary and critical care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, became a part of the Northwestern Medicine Canning Thoracic Institute Hispanic Program. Patients of the program receive lung and thoracic care, including surgery and preventive screenings, entirely in Spanish. “When I see patients come in with their children and they see I speak Spanish, there’s kind of a relief on both sides,” Meza said. The program launched two months ago. It is led by Dr. Diego Mauricio Avella Patino, a thoracic surgeon trained in Colombia, and by Meza, both native Spanish speakers. Avella performs surgeries related to esophageal disease, lung failure, various cancers, chest wall issues and breathing obstruction. Meza specializes in treating pulmonary problems such as asthma, respiratory failure and emphysema.

Fifteen-year-old boy Swaysee Rankin, who died of a gunshot wound, had two other encounters with gun violence prior. It had been two years since someone in a moving car opened fire on him and a cousin as they walked toward home. It had been three years since he used his shirt to give first aid to a little girl who he witnessed being shot. Having been shot is itself a risk factor for becoming a victim of gun violence in the future, experts told the Tribune. The years 2018 and 2019 saw a total of 119 homicide victims under 17, according to professor Maryann Mason, PhD. Mason, associate professor of emergency medicine at Northwestern University, who runs a surveillance system tracking violent deaths, said 90 of those young people’s deaths were related to a firearm. And 21 of those victims had previously suffered a firearm injury. “Firearm violence is concentrated in certain subpopulations,” Mason said. “But for those populations, it’s sort of relentless.”

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise across the United States and a new updated vaccine becomes available, many have questions on how to best keep their families safe. Treatment is currently recommended for those are at higher risk of severe illness including those with underlying conditions, who are immunocompromised or who are young or aged 65 and older. “I think your run-of-the-mill young, healthy person who has symptoms, for the most part, will be able to, to weather the storm of COVID with just over-the-counter fever-reducing medicines, nasal congestion, and so on,” John Coleman, III, MD, a pulmonary and critical care specialist at Northwestern Medicine, told ABC News. There are three treatments commonly available. Paxlovid and Lagevrio (molnupiravir) are oral medications taken at home for five days while Veklury (remdesivir) is an intravenous mediation given a health facility for three days.

Menopause used to be a taboo topic that celebrities rarely spoke about. But lately, a slew of famous women have opened up about the life transition. Speaking publicly about menopause can also just raise awareness. But it can be tricky when celebrities — who aren’t doctors — offer medical advice, Dr. Lauren Streicher, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said. “On the one hand, people are paying attention since celebrities, of course, have far more credibility in our society than anyone,” she says. “People are finding it easier to talk about.” Further she shared, “But the problem is that they’re talking about it, making recommendations and selling products which are often bogus,” Streicher continues. “Those recommendations are not scientifically based, but people are latching onto what they’re selling and doing. The reason that all these celebrities are suddenly speaking out is because there is a lot of money to be made in menopause.”

Every single person has the power to lower their blood pressure and LDL cholesterol through diet and lifestyle habits. In fact, there’s one diet habit in particular that cardiologists say is especially detrimental for blood pressure, and changing it could add years to your life. Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, the Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and the past president of the American Heart Association, says that the dietary habit that negatively impacts blood pressure the most is regularly eating processed foods. “Foods that are cooked for us or are processed are usually much higher in sodium and also much higher in calories than something that was grown or produced and not processed,” he explains. Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that the American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day (and an ideal limit of less than 1,500 mg per day) for most adults, especially for those with high blood pressure. If processed foods are a mainstay in your diet, you can reach this amount pretty quickly. For example, two slices of frozen pizza have about 724 mg of sodium. “Even cutting back by 1,000 mg a day can improve blood pressure and heart health,” Dr. Lloyd-Jones says.

If it feels like everyone you know has COVID, you’re not alone. Cases are on the rise, and so are hospitalizations and deaths. So the federal government’s release of new, updated COVID boosters feels like good timing. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the new shots; on Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weighed in with recommendations for who should get them. Short answer: Everyone ages six months and up. Along with older people, infants under 6 months – who are too young for the shots – had the highest rates of hospitalization from COVID, according to the CDC. So the best way to protect these youngest ones is to vaccinate those around them, says Tina Tan, MD

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