Cleveland, OH,
14:30 PM

MetroHealth Advances Cardiorespiratory Management of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

David Birnkrant, MD, and John Carter, MD

Recently retired MetroHealth pediatric pulmonologist David Birnkrant, MD, and his colleague John Carter, MD, MetroHealth's pediatric sleep medicine physician, who also has a background in child neurology,  co-authored a cover story in the April 2022 issue of the journal The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, among the top respiratory journals worldwide.

The article, which was co-authored by an international group of collaborators, offers insight into new and emerging therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a  neuromuscular disease causing weakness of the skeletal and cardiac muscles. Over time, patients lose the ability to breathe normally and to cough effectively. Respiratory and cardiac impairment turn out to be life-limiting complications.

The article, titled "Cardiorespiratory management of Duchenne muscular dystrophy: emerging therapies, neuromuscular genetics and new clinical challenges," examines the new genetic therapies that are revolutionizing DMD care. The article explains best ways to evaluate the effect of the new therapies on heart and lung function, the need to understand the role of genetic modifiers, which can make DMD milder or more severe in patients with the same genetic mutation, and the ethical and clinical challenges that the new genetic therapies have caused.

Drs. Birnkrant and Carter summarize the importance of the article as follows: "Duchenne muscular dystrophy is closer to being a curable disease, with new advances in genetic therapy. This article includes ways to improve our understanding of how those new therapies affect heart and lung function, and  discusses clinical and ethical challenges that have arisen, with the goal of improving quality of life for people with DMD, in addition to prolonging their survival."

Dr. Birnkrant has spent over 25 years working with patients and families in MetroHealth's MDA-sponsored pediatric neuromuscular clinic. He was the lead author and project co-leader of the CDC-sponsored Care Considerations for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which was published in 2018 and is the premiere standard of care for the disease. 

About The MetroHealth System

The MetroHealth System is redefining health care by going beyond medical treatment to improve the foundations of community health and well-being: affordable housing, a cleaner environment, economic opportunity and access to fresh food, convenient transportation, legal help and other services. The system strives to become as good at preventing disease as it is at treating it.

The system’s more than 600 doctors, 1,700 nurses and 7,800 employees go to work each day with a mission of service, to their patients and to the community. As Cuyahoga County’s safety-net health system, MetroHealth plays an essential role in the region, caring for anyone and everyone, regardless of an ability to pay.

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth operates four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers throughout Cuyahoga County. The system serves more than 300,000 patients, three-quarters of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

MetroHealth is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center. 

As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to research and to teaching and training tomorrow’s caregivers. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Lincoln-West School of Science & Health, the only high school in America located inside a hospital.

Knowing that good health is about much more than good medical care, MetroHealth has launched the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Empowerment), which uses a coordinated, collaborative and strategic approach to help patients with non-medical needs such as healthy food, stable housing and job training.

The MetroHealth Glick Center, a new 11-floor hospital, is under construction on the system’s main campus in Cleveland and is scheduled to welcome its first patients in October 2022. The billion-dollar project is the cornerstone of a wider neighborhood revitalization effort led by the system and its partners in the community.

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