Office of Research & Development

Feature Article Archive

This archive of Features includes articles from 2012. For more recent updates about VA research, please see VA Research Currents

For Veterans with PTSD, substance abuse increases mortality risk
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been linked to an increased risk of death in those who have developed the condition. A new VA study has found that Veterans with PTSD who also have problems with drugs or alcohol abuse face an even higher risk of death, providing important information for VA and other physicians who treat patients with both issues. (10/24/2012)

For Veterans with PTSD, substance abuse increases mortality risk

When patients don't follow their doctors' advice: Researchers analyze factors underlying non-adherence
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is chronically elevated. Every time a heart beats, the heart pumps blood through the arteries to the rest of the body. Blood pressure is a measure of the force against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood through your body. If the pressure is too high, the heart has to work harder to pump, which can lead to organ damage and illnesses. (10/24/2012)

When patients don't follow their doctors' advice: Researchers analyze factors underlying non-adherence

Study confirms that depression can shorten life
It’s long been believed people with major depression and some other serious mental illnesses tend to live shorter lives than others—and die more quickly than expected when they develop illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. (09/17/2012)

Study confirms that depression can shorten life

Researchers aim to promote Veterans’ use of MyHealtheVet
My HealtheVet (www.myhealth.va.gov) is VA’s personal health record. Designed for Veterans, active duty Servicemembers, and their dependents and caregivers, the online record allows users to get a better understanding of their health status and explore ways to monitor and improve their health and to connect with health care providers. (09/17/2012)

Researchers aim to promote Veterans’ use of MyHealtheVet

Lab studies yield mixed results on alpha-lipoic acid, a potential memory booster
Alpha-lipoic acid is a fatty acid that’s found in every body cell. The body uses this acid to convert glucose (blood sugar) into energy. Alpha-lipoic acid is also a potent antioxidant, neutralizing potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals—and the acid has been shown to increase the production of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that is a key component of memory. (09/17/2012)

Lab studies yield mixed results on alpha-lipoic acid, a potential memory booster

Boosting education for stroke survivors and their caregivers
Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds, and every four minutes someone dies of stroke (09/14/2012)

Boosting education for stroke survivors and their caregivers

Why do some health care workers decline flu vaccination?
Influenza (commonly known as flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Flu can cause mild to severe illness, and can even lead to death, especially in older adults. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year. (09/14/2012)

Why do some health care workers decline flu vaccination?

Five VA research centers receive prestigious quality-management certification
The five Data Management and Statistical Coordinating Centers of VA’s Cooperative Studies Program recently earned ISO 9001:2008 certification for quality management, an acknowledgement of exceptionally high standards in this area. Program officials said they believed this was the first time a federal clinical research program has achieved this certification at a national level. (09/14/2012)

Five VA research centers receive prestigious quality-management certification

Reexamining who's at high risk for colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is cancer that starts in either the colon or the rectum. This form of cancer is the second most prevalent in the United States. For many people, colorectal cancer can be prevented through regular screenings. (08/30/2012)

Reexamining who's at high risk for colorectal cancer

Pharmacy researchers work toward patient-friendly drug labels
Do you understand the information on the labels of the prescription drugs you take? Many people do not. Throughout the nation, the look and content of prescription drug labels varies widely from pharmacy to pharmacy. (08/30/2012)

Pharmacy researchers work toward patient-friendly drug labels

VA Research National Radio Media Tours
VA Research hosted a series of radio media tours in April and August of this year, which consisted of interviews with radio hosts across the country. (08/23/2012)

VA Research National Radio Media Tours

Extra weight: No protection against broken bones, as once thought
Most people, if given a choice, would rather be thin than fat. But some scientists have believed that obesity has at least one redeeming virtue, especially in older people: It may protect against osteoporosis and broken bones. A team of researchers from the New Mexico VA Health Care System, the University of New Mexico, and the Biomedical Institute of New Mexico set out to find out whether that hypothesis is true... (08/07/2012)

Extra weight: No protection against broken bones, as once thought

Weight-loss surgery: Does it save health-care costs in the long run?
Bariatric surgery involves surgery on the stomach, the intestines, or both to help people who are extremely obese lose weight. A new study led by VA researchers has found that the department's costs to treat surgical patients three years after bariatric surgery was similar to its costs to treat Veterans who did not have this kind of surgery... (08/07/2012)

Weight-loss surgery: Does it save health-care costs in the long run?

Understanding the complex link between diabetes and cognitive health
Diabetes affects about one million Veterans within the VA health care system—nearly 20 percent of the patients the Department sees each year. The disease is also the leading cause of blindness, end-stage renal disease, and amputation for VA patients. (07/11/2012)

Understanding the complex link between diabetes and cognitive health

Study strengthens case against ACE inhibitors for certain heart patients
According to the Centers for Disease Control, coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. A new study by VA researchers and researchers with the Baylor College of Medicine, St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital, and the Texas Heart Institute has called into question a therapy that's often used to treat patients with this illness: the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors in those about to undergo bypass surgery. (07/11/2012)

Study strengthens case against ACE inhibitors for certain heart patients

Sleep researchers home in on the benefits of napping
Getting a good night's sleep is important for everyone. Good sleep refreshes people, helps them perform better, and contributes significantly to health and happiness. For many Veterans, however, getting a good night's sleep is extremely difficult. (06/28/2012)

Sleep researchers home in on the benefits of napping

A hands-on, multimedia approach to prevent hearing loss
Hearing loss affects more than 30 million Americans. When combined with tinnitus (a ringing, buzzing, or other type of noise that originates in the head), hearing issues are the most frequently found service-connected disability among American Veterans. (06/28/2012)

A hands-on, multimedia approach to prevent hearing loss

Treating high blood pressure for those with diabetes: Finding the right balance
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries. A person's blood pressure rises and falls throughout the day. When blood pressure remains elevated over time, it's called high blood pressure, or hypertension. High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard. It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, and can result in other conditions such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. (06/28/2012)

Treating high blood pressure for those with diabetes: Finding the right balance

Does failing sense of smell predict Alzheimer's?
On his website (www.doctoroz.com), Mehmet Oz, MD, host of TV's "The Dr. Oz Show," suggests that the loss of smell in older people may be an early warning sign of Alzheimer's disease. A recently published VA study, however, indicates that this may not be the case. (06/28/2012)

Does failing sense of smell predict Alzheimer's?

A new way to combat MRSA infections
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics called beta-lactams. According to the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) these antibiotics include methicillin and other more common antibiotics such as oxacillin, penicillin, and amoxicillin. (06/04/2012)

A new way to combat MRSA infections

‘Micromanager’ gene helps prevent breast cancer
New knowledge about the role of genes in health and disease promises to lead to safer, more effective treatments for an entire spectrum of diseases. VA research is at the forefront of genomic analysis efforts throughout the nation and the world. (06/04/2012)

‘Micromanager’ gene helps prevent breast cancer

A Talk with the Chief: VA's Top Researcher
VA's Chief Research and Development Officer Joel Kupersmith, MD, talks about this year's Research Week activities and the importance of VA Research. Kupersmith will host the 2012 VA Research Week Forum April 26 at VA Central Office. (04/20/2012)

A Talk with the Chief: VA's Top Researcher

Non-Profit Foundations: Helping to keep VA Research cutting edge
VA researchers from the Phoenix VAMC show how non-profit foundations help keep VA Research on the cutting edge. This relationship will be featured during the 2012 VA Research Week Forum April 26 at VA Central Office. (04/19/2012)

Non-Profit Foundations: Helping to keep VA Research cutting edge

The Milwaukee POWER Project: VA Research teams up with Veteran Service Organizations to tackle hypertension
VA researchers at the Milwaukee Healthcare System are teaming up with Veteran Service Organizations to tackle hypertension. VA researchers and Veteran research participants from the Milwaukee POWER Project will be featured during the 2012 VA Research Week Forum April 26 at VA Central Office. (04/17/2012)

The Milwaukee POWER Project: VA Research teams up with Veteran Service Organizations to tackle hypertension

Million Veteran Program: A VA Research Partnership with Veterans
VA employee Susan Hall tells about her participation in VA Research's Million Veteran Program. This research, among others, will be highlighted at the 2012 VA Research Week Forum April 26 at VA Central Office in Washington. VA's 2012 Research Week is April 23-27. (04/12/2012)

Million Veteran Program: A VA Research Partnership with Veterans

VA Research helps paralyzed Veterans stand, walk
VA researchers at the Cleveland Advanced Platform Technology (APT) Center are using a hybrid of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) and conventional bracing to allow Veterans who are paralyzed from the chest down to stand and walk. (04/09/2012)

VA Research helps paralyzed Veterans stand, walk

"I was a one-sided person": THE DEKA Arm, a VA Research partnership with DoD
VA researchers join forces at the Manhattan VAMC to help a Veteran who lost his arm 40 years ago. The DEKA Arm is a joint collaboration between VA Research and the Department of Defense. (04/09/2012)

I was a one-sided person: THE DEKA Arm, a VA Research partnership with DoD

Sharing Personal Health Records
The Department of Veterans Affairs has long been a pioneer in developing and using a comprehensive system of electronic health records. VA clinicians began using computerized patient records in the mid-1990s for everything from recording examinations by doctors to displaying the results of lab tests and X-rays. (04/03/2012)

Sharing Personal Health Records

TRACTS: VA Research explores unique issues of Veterans with both TBI and PTSD
VA researchers in Boston are examining the links between mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder that occur conjointly in Veterans returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. (04/03/2012)

TRACTS: VA Research explores unique issues of Veterans with both TBI and PTSD

Study: VA meeting goals for colorectal cancer screening
Colorectal, or colon, cancer refers to cancer that is found in either the colon or the rectum. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), this type of cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. This year, ACS estimates 101,340 new cases of colon cancer and 39,870 new cases of rectal cancer will we diagnosed. (02/27/2012)

Study: VA meeting goals for colorectal cancer screening

Using the Internet to boost cardiac care
A team of researchers led by Deborah A. Levine, MD, MPH, of VA's Ann Arbor Medical Center and the University of Michigan Health System, tested whether the Internet might be a good way to educate physicians on best practices in caring for patients who had previously had heart attacks, known in medical terms as actue myocardial infarction (MI). They conducted a randomized trial involving 168 VA primary care clinics and 847 health care providers in 26 states, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. (02/23/2012)

Using the Internet to boost cardiac care

Caring for the caregiver
The job of caring for severely injured, ill, or disabled Veterans on a daily basis is a demanding task. VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki has referred to these caregivers as "our partners in Veteran health care. (02/22/2012)

Caring for the caregiver

The ups and downs of blood pressure measurement
A recent study at the Durham VA Medical Center and Duke University confirms that people's blood pressure tends to be higher at the doctor's office than when they check it themselves at home. (02/02/2012)

The ups and downs of blood pressure measurement

Study sheds light on threat from new 'super bug'
The bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) has become a major problem in many countries, resulting in significant morbidity, mortality, and health care costs. Infections caused by S. aureus range from mild, requiring no treatment, to severe and potentially fatal. (02/01/2012)

Study sheds light on threat from new 'super bug'

Promoting the health of young Veterans
Every Veteran returning from Iraq and Afghanistan can receive cost free medical care from the Department of Veterans Affairs for any condition related to their service in the theater of war for five years after the date of the discharge or release. In addition, combat Veterans may be eligible for additional VA services, including dental benefits, family support, and help in going back to school and finding a job. (01/18/2012)

Promoting the health of young Veterans

ER is cost-effective setting for flu vaccinations
The appearance of cold weather throughout much of the United States is not only a sign of approaching winter, it's also a sign that influenza season is with us once again. In the United States, annual outbreaks of flu usually occur during the fall, winter, and early spring. In a typical year, 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the seasonal flu. (01/17/2012)

ER is cost-effective setting for flu vaccinations