Weekly News Tip Sheet: March 6, 2019


    Health-care providers and researchers with the University of Louisville are available to discuss any of the following health topics this week. Click on the headline or scroll down for more information:



    Glaucoma affects millions of people worldwide and is a leading cause of irreversible blindness. Those with the disease have elevated eye pressure, which causes damage to the optic nerve and ultimately leads to blindness. Glaucoma may progress silently with no obvious symptoms, leading it to be known as the “sneak thief of sight.”

    If glaucoma is detected early enough, however, eye doctors can provide treatment to halt or slow progression of the disease. World Glaucoma Week, March 10-16, is designated by the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Association to remind people to have their eyes checked for early signs of glaucoma.

    “Early detection is paramount and treatment in the form of eye drops, laser or in severe cases, eye surgery, is readily available,” said Joern B. Soltau, M.D., an ophthalmologist specializing in glaucoma with UofL Physicians – Eye Specialists and acting chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at UofL.

    Soltau adds that first-degree relatives of patients suffering from glaucoma are at a ten-fold risk of developing glaucoma themselves, so patients who have a parent or sibling with glaucoma should be screened regularly.

    One way to remind others to be checked is by wearing green during World Glaucoma Week. To have your eyes checked, call the Kentucky Lions Eye Center at 502-588-0550.



    Many people were shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of actor Luke Perry from a stroke earlier this week. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and is a leading cause of disability. Rates of stroke are higher in Kentucky and other states in the stroke belt due to higher rates of smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

    These and other risk factors for stroke, such as a sedentary lifestyle or heart disease, can often be controlled, so it is important to know your risk factors and take steps to reduce your risk.

    “High blood pressure can lead to stroke by damaging the blood vessels leading to or within the brain, causing them to narrow or rupture,” said Kerri Remmel, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UofL Hospital –Comprehensive Stroke Center. “We can’t feel high blood pressure until it’s too late, so we need to check our blood pressure and get it under control. Stroke is mostly preventable by aggressively reducing risk factors.”

    In addition, to recall common signs of stroke, remember BE FAST:

    B – Balance lost
    E – Eyes blur
    F – Face drooping
    A – Arm weakness
    S – Speech difficulty
    T – Time to call 911! Get to a hospital

    If anyone experiences symptoms of a stroke, call 911 and get them to a hospital immediately. If possible, seek treatment at a Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, such as University of Louisville Hospital. Prompt treatment is essential to allow for the best recovery from stroke.

    If you are concerned about your risk, discuss your concerns with your doctor or contact UofL Physicians – Neurology



    Researchers in the UofL Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases (CPM) have been awarded a contract from the FDA to help combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which kills up to 23,000 people in the U.S. each year. This new contract supports the development of a model to test the effectiveness of new drugs against multi-drug resistant bacteria, contributing to the development of new, more effective antimicrobial drugs to fight these infections.

    The CPM has been testing the effectiveness of new drugs against P. aeruginosa under a contract with the National Institutes of Health since 2013, and a new contract from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will expand the center’s work in testing new drugs against this pathogen. Under the new two-year, $933,606 contract, CPM will develop a validated model for screening antimicrobial drugs against P. aeruginosa.

    “This model likely will play an important role in drug development pipelines leading to identification of new antimicrobial drugs,” said Matthew Lawrenz, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology who is leading the research. “Researchers at UofL and from around the world will use the model to screen new antimicrobials against multi-drug resistant bacteria prior to clinical trials.”

    Forest Arnold, D.O., hospital epidemiologist for UofL Hospital and associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the UofL School of Medicine, said multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria and XDR bacteria, those with resistance to all existing antibiotics, are evolving faster than the drugs to kill them.

    “The germs get smarter as we make new drugs. If we are going to stay on top of them, we need new antibiotics, especially new classes of antibiotics – those with a new mechanism of action that the germ hasn’t seen before,” Arnold said.

    Infections with MDR bacteria are particularly threatening for patients with weakened immune systems, those who have had multiple rounds of treatment with antibiotics, and in patients using devices such as ventilators and blood catheters. Since these bacteria are now resistant to many of the antibiotic drugs used to treat them, they can lead to severe infections and death.



    A new public health campaign is highlighting the need for education and awareness on antibiotic overuse in Kentucky, which has the highest rate of antibiotic use in the United States.

    Although antibiotics are important life-saving drugs that treat bacterial infections – including strep throat and urinary tract infections – their overuse can lead to drug resistance, which occurs when antibiotics no longer cure infections that they should treat, said Bethany Wattles, Pharm.D., clinical pharmacist in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.

    Kentucky Antibiotic Awareness (KAA), a statewide campaign to reduce inappropriate antibiotic use, is led by health professional researchers at the UofL Department of Pediatrics Antimicrobial Stewardship Program with collaboration and financial support from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department of Medicaid Services.

    “If we continue to overuse antibiotics, even minor infections will become untreatable. This is a serious public health threat,” Wattles said. “To combat the spread of antibiotic resistance, we must use antibiotics only when necessary.”

    Antibiotics most frequently are used for upper respiratory infections, many of which are caused by viruses that antibiotics do not kill.

    When antibiotics are prescribed, it is important to take them as instructed; do not share the medicine with others or save for later use.

    To learn more, visit the KAA website and follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Health care providers are also encouraged to join the KAA Listserv for newsletter updates, or email KYAntibx@louisville.edu with questions and suggestions.



    Betty Coffman
    Betty Coffman is a Communications Coordinator focused on research and innovation at UofL. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing.