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January 19, 2017

(Reuters Health) - Treatment of high blood pressure is improving in the United States, but a new study suggests white people are seeing more improvements than black or Hispanic people.

Blacks and Hispanics were less likely to have their blood pressure under control, compared to whites, researchers found. Hispanics were also less likely than whites to be treated for the condition.

The new study shows public health efforts to improve blood pressure control are working, but "there are still disparities that still affect minorities," said senior author Dr. Edgar Argulian, of Mt. Sinai St. Luke's Hospital in New York City.

"It probably means we need to tweak those efforts," he told Reuters Health.The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends keeping systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading) below 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) should be below 80 mmHg.

High blood pressure - known as hypertension - can lead to stroke, heart problems, kidney disease and other health issues, according to the AHA. Doctors usually start prescribing medicine to lower blood pressure when a person's readings are consistently over 140/90 mmHG.

For the new study, the researchers analyzed data collected from 8,796 U.S. adults with high blood pressure between 2003 and 2012 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

Blood pressure treatment and control increased during that time period, the researchers write in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Treatment rates increased from about 66 percent in 2003-2004 to about 77 percent in 2010-2012. The proportion of people who got their blood pressure under control increased from 33 percent to 45 percent over the same period.

White people tended to do better on a variety of measures, however.

About 74 percent of whites, 71 percent of blacks and 61 percent of Hispanics were being treated for their high blood pressure over the course of the study, the researchers found.

All three groups experienced substantial improvement in hypertension control over the course of the study. But while roughly 43 percent of whites had their hypertension under control during the study period, only about 37 percent of blacks and about 31 percent of Hispanics could say the same.

Doctors are treating blacks nearly as often as whites for high blood pressure, the researchers note, but blacks are still less likely to have the condition under control.

Black people are particularly predisposed to high blood pressure and more aggressive forms of the condition, said Argulian.

Unlike blacks, Hispanics were not treated as aggressively as whites for high blood pressure. They were also less likely to have their condition under control.

"There is no biological evidence to suggest that Hispanics are more vulnerable to loss of blood pressure control," lead author Dr. Anna Gu, of St. John's University in New York, told Reuters Health.

For Hispanics, factors like access to health insurance and language barriers may be obstacles to getting appropriate care, Gu said.

"One of the things we should get out of this study is what a bad job we’re doing controlling blood pressure across the board," said Dr. Leslie Cho, who directs the Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Cardiovascular Center in Ohio.

Doctors can be better at providing the best proven treatments for individual patients, said Cho, who was not involved with the new study.

For example, she told Reuters Health, high blood pressure among black people responds well to drugs known as calcium channel blockers and diuretics.

People should be encouraged to monitor their blood pressure at home, she added.

Argulian said treating hypertension is a complex issue that goes beyond merely giving patients pills to take. Blood pressure control needs to take into account many lifestyle factors like weight and diet, but also social factors like insurance access and ability to get and take medications, he said.

 

 

January 4, 2017

St. John's composting efforts featured in Biocycle Magazine. 

December 21, 2016

Women Leaders was written by Norean Sharpe, Ph.D., Dean of the Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John's University, for Reactions.

December 5, 2016

Since the Sony projectors were installed, students and faculty have reportedly experienced improvements in colour quality, brightness, speed and ease of the projectors’ operation.

Now, the faculty can manage “global classrooms,” bringing in guest speakers through Skype or Google Hangouts. The projectors’ fast start-up time (approximately seven seconds) lets classes start immediately, giving professors extra minutes of real interaction with students during each session.

Behind the scenes, the networked Sony laser projectors are also delivering operational benefits — reducing the need for frequent filter cleaning and saving the costs of regular bulb replacement due to the laser light source’s expected life of 20,000 hours.

St. John’s partnership with Whitlock for classroom integration of the Sony technology is said to be making the educational experience more interactive, dynamic and engaging for the faculty and students.

December 5, 2016

The Richmond County Orchestra (RCO) will add holiday cheer to the season with "Christmastime in Song and Dance," a free celebration in song and dance on Sunday, Dec. 18, at 5 p.m. at St. John's University on Grymes Hill.

The evening will feature The New American Youth Ballet performing excerpts from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" and "Swan Lake." The company will be joined by the Dawn Daniels Dancers.

Kristin Palmeri will perform "Text me Merry Christmas" and Giuseppe Taormina will sing his rendition of "O sole Mio" and "O Holy Night."

Guests can join in a family Christmas Carol sing along with special guests from the Brighton Heights Reformed Church String Ensemble.

The Richmond County Orchestra Maestro Alan Aurelia notes: "Most dance companies do not perform with a full orchestra. This is an opportunity for see their talent showcased while accompanied by our orchestra."

Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be on hand to pose with children.

There will be a 50/50 and prizes and goodies for youngsters.

The performance is free thanks to support from St John's University Office of Community Relations and the Italian Cultural Center.

For more information, call 718-990-5852 or visit StJohns.edu/about/events/christmastime-song-and-dance.

December 5, 2016

A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that damaging testimony Bill Cosby gave in an accuser's lawsuit can be used at his criminal sex assault trial.

Cosby, 79, who is set to go to trial in June 2017, faces three counts of aggravated indecent sexual assault stemming from a 2004 encounter with Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who looked to Cosby as a mentor.

Constand, a 43-year-old Canadian now living in Toronto, says Cosby drugged her and assaulted her at his Montgomery County home, an account similar to that of five dozen other women who have come forward to accuse Cosby since the fall of 2014. Cosby insists the encounter with Constand was consensual.

Cosby's defense lawyers have argued that Cosby only agreed to testify in a deposition in 2005, for a civil suit brought by Constand (and settled in 2006), after being promised he wouldn't be charged in the case.

Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill concluded Monday that Cosby never had a promise from prosecutors that he could never be charged.

"Because there was no promise, there can be no reliance on the part of the defendant and principles of fundamental fairness and due process have not been violated," O'Neill wrote, following a lengthy summary of his conclusions of law. "This court finds there is no Constitutional barrier to the use of the defendant's civil deposition testimony."

The release of the deposition testimony last year prompted prosecutors to reopen Constand's 2005 criminal complaint.

The prosecution aims to show that Cosby exhibited a pattern of sexual assault dating back to the 1960s and in multiple states. Cosby has not been charged in any of these other accusations, due to statutes of limitation in other states.

The judge's ruling provides another big win for the prosecution, which has repeatedly won on several pre-trial issues raised by Cosby. In this issue, prosecutors seek to use Cosby's own words in the damaging deposition he gave for Constand's civil lawsuit.

"It’s a pretty damaging blow for the defense and a pretty big win for the prosecution, because the deposition was given under oath so it has lot of weight to it," says Larry Cunningham, vice dean & professor at St. John's University School of Law. "It’s going to be very, very damaging for him at his criminal trial."

Cosby acknowledged in the deposition that he had obtained drugs to give to women he sought for sexual encounters. He called them consensual, but many of the women say they were drugged and/or raped or molested.

The deposition was included in "new evidence" Steele cited in charging Cosby, after a previous district attorney had declined to file charges in 2005. Cosby argues the deposition should be tossed because it was sealed and then wrongly released by a judge.

“Allowing the jury to hear Mr. Cosby’s deposition testimony is another step forward in this case and will aid the jury in making its determination," Steele said in a statement. "It’s important that we are able to present all of the evidence available, and Judge O’Neill’s ruling allows us to make this evidence part of the upcoming trial.”

Cunningham says the judge's decision gets the prosecution "much" closer to a conviction. "Now the defense really has to come up with an argument or explanation to the jury explaining some of (Cosby's) admissions in the deposition itself," he says.

A comment from the Cosby legal team was not immediately available.

The ruling on the deposition is one of two key pretrial issues. The judge must also decide if prosecutors can call 13 other accusers to testify against him for an alleged "pattern of bad acts."

December 4, 2016

St. John’s is officially a Catholic Relief Services Global Campus.

St. John’s President Condrado “Bobby” Gempesaw signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the university as a Global Campus of Catholic Relief Services Monday at the St. Thomas More Church on campus. Students, faculty and staff attended the gathering. Carolyn Y. Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Service, was also in attendance.

CRS is the official humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. CRS works to assist the poor, respond to major emergencies and fight disease around the world. According to CRS, it has helped over 100 million people in more than 100 countries.

CRS and St. John’s have worked together for nearly 10 years. In 2014 a chapter of CRS Campus Ambassadors was launched. The program helps prepare undergraduates to address global poverty and injustice. In 2016, CRS collaborated with St. John’s at the university’s Poverty Conference.

St. John’s will be the 10th CRS Global Campus in the United States.

“This is a comprehensive and longstanding relationship that only happens because people work at it and are passionate about it,” Woo said. “Our work is a privilege and we take our work very seriously.”

After the signing, Woo delivered an academic lecture “Cry of the Earth and Cry of the Poor” She praised CRS’s work helping to educate refugees worldwide.

“There are 65 million refugees out there and half of them are children,” she said. “If we handle this problem well, and we welcome this generation, we will have the largest generation of peace builders.”

Juliana Lombardo, a student at St. John’s is excited about the new agreement.

“It really shows how connected we are to the world as a Catholic university,” she said “It’s a wonderful chance for St. John’s students to use the collective resources of the two institutions to spread Catholic social teaching around the world.”

Rev. Bernard M. Tracey, executive vice president for Mission and interim vice president for Advancement and University Relations, believes the new agreement will expand the school’s horizons.

“The partnership between CRS and the university will enhance both our educational and our service approach to looking at things from a global perspective,” he said “It enables us to do more in the academic and service arenas as well, creating meaningful opportunities for both faculty and students.”

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