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Study finds smoking may increase risk of atrial fibrillation

BY Michael Johnsen

DURHAM, N.C. Cigarette smoking may contribute to the risk of atrial fibrillation a study published this month in the American Heart Journal found.

Atrial fibrillation is a disorder found in about 2.2 million Americans, according to the American Heart Association. During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two small upper chambers (the atria) quiver instead of beating effectively. Blood isn’t pumped completely out of them, so it may pool and clot. If a piece of a blood clot in the atria leaves the heart and becomes lodged in an artery in the brain, a stroke results. About 15% of strokes occur in people with atrial fibrillation.

The likelihood of developing atrial fibrillation increases with age. Three to 5 percent of people over 65 have atrial fibrillation.The association between cigarette smoking and the risk of atrial fibrillation was examined in 5,668 subjects without atrial fibrillation at baseline as part of the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort study among subjects over the age of 55. Researchers found that both current smokers and former smokers had increased risks of atrial fibrillation as compared to people who never smoked. No differences were found between men and women.

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SXC to acquire Zynchros

BY Alaric DeArment

LISLE, Ill. Pharmacy benefit management service provider SXC Health Solutions Corp. has acquired Seattle-based formulary management services company Zynchros, SXC announced Monday.

 Founded in 2000, Zynchros provides on-demand formulary management tools to more than 40 health plans and PBMs. SXC said the zynchros.com platform helps payers manage their formulary programs and maintain Medicare Part D compliance.

“Zynchros.com is by far the most advanced and widely installed solution on the market to manage formularies and maintain compliance with Medicare Part Drequirements,” SXC president and chief executive officer Mark Thierer said in a statement. “This acquisition further cements SXC’s leadership position as the industry?s technology-enabled PBM.”

Health insurance plans and PBMs use Zynchros? services to control pharmacy benefit costs and leverage e-prescribing and electronic medical records initiatives.

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Allsup to receive disability records electronically

BY Alaric DeArment

BELLEVILLE, Ill. A company that provides financial and healthcare services to people with disabilities complimented the Social Security Administration Monday for its decision that it will begin receiving medical records for some disability applicants electronically, starting in 2009.

Allsup, based in Belleville, Ill., said it was the latest in a number of technology initiatives that the SSA has undertaken.

 

“This announcement is another sign of the agency?s commitment to embracing modern technology to help break the disability application backlog,” Allsup president and chief executive officer Jim Allsup said in a statement. “We know from our experience that it can take up to 30 days to receive medical records from many providers. Eliminating that delay should streamline the initial claims review and speed up disability determinations.”

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