SAN DIEGOFor CNN-watchers, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, its chief medical correspondent, is a familiar figure. Or perhaps you’ve read his book, published this spring, titled “Chasing Life,” currently on the New York Times Bestseller List.

A practicing neurosurgeon and media star who delivers medical news around the globe, Gupta discussed “Medicine and Media” at the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC; Washington) annual meeting, ongoing this week.

Gupta acknowledged that some people in the audience of healthcare professionals would find the side-by-side existence of the two roles “incongruous.” But he said that they have clear similarities, one being the requirement for credibility with one’s “audience,” whether TV viewer or patient. And once that trust is gone, it is virtually impossible to win back, he said.

“Health stories are typically the most intimate stories,” he said. And he cited research indicating that the primary viewers of health stories are women in their 30s and 40s, who also happen to be the “key drivers” of family healthcare decisions. So reaching them with important healthcare information is a key to improving the healthcare of many Americans, he said.

While there is “tons of information” about healthcare —perhaps too much,” Gupta acknowledged — the important strategy is to turn that information “into knowledge.”

TV plays an important role in speeding the peer-review process for significant articles and “perhaps speed up the whole medical research process,” Gupta said.

And he noted that of the $2 trillion spent on health in the U.S., most of it “goes to people after they’re sick.” Of the more than $400 billion spent on healthcare by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services , only 5% to 6% is spent on wellness, he said, citing this as a “fertile area for this whole culture of prevention.”

While such topics as cancer screening, weight loss and exercise segments are “difficult to do on TV,” he said that viewer research indicates “that our information really does make a difference.” And he said he feels a responsibility to do this not only as a doctor, but as a “good steward of society.”

The problem of childhood obesity has “boggled my mind,” he said, citing the increasing evidence that children born today may have shorter life spans than their parents, the first such reversal in American history.

Gupta said he “cares deeply” about the subject and so has made self-care and fitness a key topic of his show “Fit Nation.”

Given both his personal and professional concerns, Gupta said that he was excited to be speaking to an audience focused on the early diagnosis of disease an attempt to evaluate health status prior to illness.

— Karen Young

First patient implanted with Boston Sci’s Taxus Petal stent

A Medical Device Daily

Boston Scientific (Natick, Massachusetts) reported the implantation of the company’s Taxus Petal Bifurcation Paclitaxel-Eluting Stent system in a patient in New Zealand, marking the beginning of the Taxus Petal first human use trial.

The trial is designed to evaluate the safety of a dedicated bifurcation paclitaxel-eluting DES platform for the treatment of coronary artery disease.

A significant percentage of coronary artery disease occurs at a bifurcation, where one artery branches into two smaller arteries, thus providing an attractive location for the buildup of plaque. These bifurcations are particularly difficult to treat with currently available stents.

The Taxus Petal DES is designed specifically to treat both the main branch and the side branch of a bifurcation. It is designed to provide access, coverage and support to the critical areas of the bifurcation and uses a proprietary platinum chromium alloy. Platinum chromium is designed to offer an improvement over stainless steel and cobalt chromium, enabling even thinner struts, increased flexibility and improved radiopacity.

The clinical trial is a non-randomized study with an initial assessment of acute performance and safety (death, myocardial infarction, target vessel revascularization) at 30 days and six months, as well as providing annual follow-up for five years.