Research Roundup: New model estimates odds of events that trigger sudden cardiac death; Health care reforms fail to lower hospitalizations in England

Research Roundup: New model estimates odds of events that trigger sudden cardiac death; Health care reforms fail to lower hospitalizations in England

New model estimates odds of events that trigger sudden cardiac death

A new computational model of heart tissue allows researchers to estimate the probability of rare heartbeat irregularities that can cause sudden cardiac death.  The new study, published in PLOS Computational Biology, discusses a new method that estimates the probability of a deadly arrhythmia using hundreds of simulations. These simulations are powered by a computational model that, unlike previously developed models, realistically incorporates details of the molecular processes that occur in heart cells.

“This study represents an important step forward in understanding how to pinpoint the molecular processes that are the primary regulators of the probability of occurrence of rare arrhythmic events,” says study co-author Raimond Winslow. “As such, our approach offers a powerful new computational tool for identifying the optimal drug targets for pharmacotherapy directed at preventing arrhythmias.”

Health care reforms fail to lower hospitalizations in England

Recent health care reforms in England did not lead to the expected outcomes of decreased hospitalizations and specialist visits, according to a new study published recently in PLOS Medicine.

The researchers found no significant change in hospital admissions in either England or Scotland. However, in England they found an increase in the trend of outpatient specialist visits following the reforms, leading to a 12.7% higher rate of specialist visits by the end of the study. This is equivalent to about 3.7 million additional specialist visits between 2012 and 2015. No change was seen in specialist visits in Scotland.

An accompanying Perspective, points out that the new study is a prime example of how researchers can now exploit routinely collected data to quickly and easily evaluate major policy initiatives on the restructuring of health and social care.

Research Cited:

Walker MA, Gurev V, Rice JJ, Greenstein JL, Winslow RL (2017) Estimating the probabilities of rare arrhythmic events in multiscale computational models of cardiac cells and tissue. PLoS Comput Biol 13(11): e1005783.

Lopez Bernal JA, Lu CY, Gasparrini A, Cummins S, Wharham JF, Soumerai SB (2017) Association between the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and specialist visits and hospitalisations in England: A controlled interrupted time series analysisPLoS Med 14(11): e1002427.

Sheikh A (2017) Evidence-based restructuring of health and social carePLoS Med 14(11): e1002426.

Image Credit: Walker et al. PLoS Comput Biol 13(11): e1005783

Author

Jen is the Editorial Media Manager at PLOS. Before her time at PLOS, she's worked in broadcast news, radio and online media.

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