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What to expect during a physical examination

06/12/2022

In our last blog, we explained why regular health check ups are a must. But if you haven’t had one for some time, you might not know what to expect. Don’t worry; we’re here to provide you with some of the common aspects of a physical examination (exam) so you know what to expect. Still not sure about the importance of regular medical check ups? According to one published in the American Journal of Medicine, inadequate physical examination is a significant source of medical errors and subsequent adverse effects. So what can you expect from a physical exam? Updated health history First and foremost, any good doctor will ask you about your health history. This will include any past problems, as well as new developments and changes. This is your opportunity to explain any concerns you may have and provide your physician with as much information as possible so they have as clear a picture as possible of your overall health. During this part of the physical exam, be prepared to answer questions relating to your lifestyle, like whether you smoke, how much alcohol you drink, the amount of exercise you get and possibly dietary habits. It’s important to be honest, as it’s only yourself you’re doing an injustice to if you’re not. Vital sign checks Another important part of any physical exam are the vital sign checks. These standard tests provide a benchmark of your health based on a set of recommended guidelines. Vital sign checks will involve taking your blood pressure (anything less than 120/90 is considered “normal”), measuring your heart rate (between 60 and 100 is considered “normal”), checking your respiratory rate (12 to 16 breaths per minute is “normal” for a healthy adult) and taking your temperature (“normal” body temperature can range between 97 F (36.1 C) and 99 F (37.2 C)). Visual and physical exams The final aspect of your physical exam will comprise a series of visual and physical tests, designed to look for signs of any potential problems or medical conditions. The visual exam will include examination of the following: - Head - Eyes - Ears - Nose - Chest - Abdomen - Musculoskeletal system, such as your hands and wrists - Nervous system/neurological functions, such as reflexes, balance and speech and walking The physical exam will comprise: - Touching, or “palpating,” parts of your body (like your abdomen) to feel for anything unusual - Checking your skin, hair, and nails - Checking your organ size and shape - A possible examination of your genitalia and rectum When was the last time you had a physical exam? If it’s been a while, maybe it’s time you considered having one. Look out for our blog next week on the additional laboratory and screening tests you can expect during a physical exam.

What to expect during a physical examination

01/12/2022

In our last blog, we explained why regular health check ups are a must. But if you haven’t had one for some time, you might not know what to expect. Don’t worry; we’re here to provide you with some of the common aspects of a physical examination (exam) so you know what to expect. Still not sure about the importance of regular medical check ups? According to one published in the American Journal of Medicine, inadequate physical examination is a significant source of medical errors and subsequent adverse effects. So what can you expect from a physical exam? Updated health history First and foremost, any good doctor will ask you about your health history. This will include any past problems, as well as new developments and changes. This is your opportunity to explain any concerns you may have and provide your physician with as much information as possible so they have as clear a picture as possible of your overall health. During this part of the physical exam, be prepared to answer questions relating to your lifestyle, like whether you smoke, how much alcohol you drink, the amount of exercise you get and possibly dietary habits. It’s important to be honest, as it’s only yourself you’re doing an injustice to if you’re not. Vital sign checks Another important part of any physical exam are the vital sign checks. These standard tests provide a benchmark of your health based on a set of recommended guidelines. Vital sign checks will involve taking your blood pressure (anything less than 120/90 is considered “normal”), measuring your heart rate (between 60 and 100 is considered “normal”), checking your respiratory rate (12 to 16 breaths per minute is “normal” for a healthy adult) and taking your temperature (“normal” body temperature can range between 97 F (36.1 C) and 99 F (37.2 C)). Visual and physical exams The final aspect of your physical exam will comprise a series of visual and physical tests, designed to look for signs of any potential problems or medical conditions. The visual exam will include examination of the following: Head Eyes Ears Nose Chest Abdomen Musculoskeletal system, such as your hands and wrists Nervous system/neurological functions, such as reflexes, balance and speech and walking The physical exam will comprise: Touching, or “palpating,” parts of your body (like your abdomen) to feel for anything unusual Checking your skin, hair, and nails Checking your organ size and shape A possible examination of your genitalia and rectum When was the last time you had a physical exam? If it’s been a while, maybe it’s time you considered having one. Look out for our blog next week on the additional laboratory and screening tests you can expect during a physical exam.

What to expect during a physical examination

01/12/2022

In our last blog, we explained why regular health check ups are a must. But if you haven’t had one for some time, you might not know what to expect. Don’t worry; we’re here to provide you with some of the common aspects of a physical examination (exam) so you know what to expect. Still not sure about the importance of regular medical check ups? According to one published in the American Journal of Medicine, inadequate physical examination is a significant source of medical errors and subsequent adverse effects. So what can you expect from a physical exam? Updated health history First and foremost, any good doctor will ask you about your health history. This will include any past problems, as well as new developments and changes. This is your opportunity to explain any concerns you may have and provide your physician with as much information as possible so they have as clear a picture as possible of your overall health. During this part of the physical exam, be prepared to answer questions relating to your lifestyle, like whether you smoke, how much alcohol you drink, the amount of exercise you get and possibly dietary habits. It’s important to be honest, as it’s only yourself you’re doing an injustice to if you’re not. Vital sign checks Another important part of any physical exam are the vital sign checks. These standard tests provide a benchmark of your health based on a set of recommended guidelines. Vital sign checks will involve taking your blood pressure (anything less than 120/90 is considered “normal”), measuring your heart rate (between 60 and 100 is considered “normal”), checking your respiratory rate (12 to 16 breaths per minute is “normal” for a healthy adult) and taking your temperature (“normal” body temperature can range between 97 F (36.1 C) and 99 F (37.2 C)). Visual and physical exams The final aspect of your physical exam will comprise a series of visual and physical tests, designed to look for signs of any potential problems or medical conditions. The visual exam will include examination of the following: Head Eyes Ears Nose Chest Abdomen Musculoskeletal system, such as your hands and wrists Nervous system/neurological functions, such as reflexes, balance and speech and walking The physical exam will comprise: Touching, or “palpating,” parts of your body (like your abdomen) to feel for anything unusual Checking your skin, hair, and nails Checking your organ size and shape A possible examination of your genitalia and rectum When was the last time you had a physical exam? If it’s been a while, maybe it’s time you considered having one. Look out for our blog next week on the additional laboratory and screening tests you can expect during a physical exam. *Image by Hamilton Viana Viana from Pixabay 

Why regular health check ups are a must

24/11/2022

Regular health check ups can help with everything from weight and blood pressure monitoring to early detection of more serious issues. Yet a significant proportion of people simply neglect to have them frequently. Indeed, according to a new national poll from NORC at the University of Chicago and the West Health Institute, around 40 percent of Americans reported skipping a recommended medical test or treatment. Meanwhile, 44 percent said they neglected to see a doctor despite being sick or injured in the last year because of cost. Separate research also reveals that men are more likely to miss health check ups, with a third of men thinking they do not need annual health screenings. The Harris Poll, which surveyed people nationally, also found that two-thirds of men believe they are “naturally healthier than others in general.” The benefits of regular health check ups First and foremost, regular health check ups can help detect medical conditions while they are still in their early stages, which can yield a number of follow on benefits. For example, an early cancer diagnosis can significantly improve a patient’s outcome. Treatment can be given sooner, increasing the chances of a patient responding positively. Furthermore, when medical conditions are diagnosed earlier, the chances of them becoming more severe are lessened. In turn, this means that healthcare interventions and associated costs are, inevitably, greatly reduced. Then there is the peace of mind that can be afforded through regular health check ups. Instead of wondering whether the few symptoms you are experiencing are serious, isn’t it better to get checked out and put your mind at ease? Finally, regular health check ups also serve to strengthen your relationship with doctors and physicians. By building mutual trust, more open and honest conversations can be had, which often lead to swifter diagnoses. Final thoughts When was the last time you had a health check up? On an annual basis wouldn’t be a bad start. Whether you are young or old, regular health check ups are important. Most medical conditions do not discriminate, which means staying abreast of any changes with your body is so important. Chances are you’ll be given a clean bill of health on a regular basis. But with regular health check ups, you stand a significantly greater chance of any potential medical issues being discovered early and, potentially, before they become a bigger problem. *Image by tomwieden from Pixabay 

Why picking your nose may increase your risk of Alzheimer's Disease

09/11/2022

If you're one of those people who picks their nose, or aggressively plucks any hairs you find there, new research may provide you with a reason to stop. According to a study in mice, the results of which are published in Scientific Reports, such habits as those outlined above may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease. That's because Chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria can easily travel along a nerve running from the nasal cavity into the brain. From there, the bacteria were seen to infect the mice's central nervous system. When the bacteria invade the brain, they display a key marker of Alzheimer’s disease. “We’re the first to show that Chlamydia pneumoniae can go directly up the nose and into the brain, where it can set off pathologies that look like Alzheimer’s disease,” study coauthor James St John, PhD, head of the Clem Jones Centre for Neurobiology and Stem Cell Research at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, said in a statement. “We saw this happen in a mouse model, and the evidence is potentially scary for humans as well,” Dr. St John said. In the mouse studies, the Chlamydia pneumoniae bacteria were found to have traveled to the mice's brains within 72 hours, but this was witnessed to be even faster among mice whose nasal passages were damaged. “Picking your nose [or] plucking the hairs from your nose is not a good idea,” St John said. “We don’t want to damage the inside of our nose, and picking and plucking can do that.

Crosswords or video games: which is better for your brain?

03/11/2022

In our modern age where smartphones and apps are ubiquitous, so-called brain training games are all the rage. But people of a certain age will be much more familiar with the good old-fashioned crossword. Which is better for your brain when it comes to slowing cognitive decline? New research has provided some insights. According to the study, led by Davangere Devanand, MD, a professor and director of geriatric psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, the humble crossword puzzle may actually be better for aging brains than new-fangled video games. “This is the first study to document both short-term and longer-term benefits for home-based crossword puzzles training compared to another intervention,” said Devanand. For the study, the researchers followed 107 adults aged 55 and over with mild cognitive impairment for 78 weeks. The participants were randomly given either crossword puzzles or brain-training games, and asked to do four 30-minute sessions weekly over three months. The participants were also asked to do a number of booster sessions up until the end of the study period. The researchers found that the people in the crossword group showed a small improvement in tests of memory and other mental skills. The results of the study are published in the New England Journal of Medicine. *Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Low carb diet can prevent and treat type 2 diabetes

27/10/2022

Over 400 million people worldwide are living with type 2 diabetes, according to the World Health Organization. Yet a new study suggests the condition could be controlled and even prevented through diet alone. Publishing their findings in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers from Tulane University in Louisiana in the United States revealed how following a diet that is low in carbohydrates can help people with unmedicated diabetes and those at risk for diabetes lower their blood sugar. For the study, the researchers recruited 150 participants and separated them into two groups: one which followed a low carb diet (less than 40 net grams of carbohydrates a day for the first 3 months and less than 60 net grams during months 3 to 6) and one which followed their usual diet. The researchers found that not only did the low carb diet group see their hemoglobin A1c, a marker for blood sugar levels, drop, they also lost weight and had lower fasting glucose levels. “The key message is that a low-carbohydrate diet, if maintained, might be a useful approach for preventing and treating Type 2 diabetes, though more research is needed,” said lead author Kirsten Dorans, assistant professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. *Image by Nemanja_us from Pixabay

Vitamin D deficiency may increase premature death risk

26/10/2022

It's often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”, and now new research shows that vitamin D could prolong your life. According to a study by researchers from the University of South Australia, there is a causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and premature death. For the study, the researchers recruited over 300,000 individuals, aged 37-73, from the UK Biobank. They obtained the participants' genetic data, as well as their vitamin D serum levels. Over a 14-year follow-up period, the researchers recorded all-cause mortality and deaths caused by cancer, cardiovascular disease respiratory disease. At the end of the research period, there had been 18,700 deaths. Further analysis revealed that the risk of death decreased significantly with increasing vitamin D levels, but that this effect plateaued when serum levels reached 50 nmol/L. “In this study, we found evidence for a benefit across all the main causes of death, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and respiratory disease-related mortality,” said study author Elina Hypponen, PhD, a University of South Australia professor and director of the Australian Centre for Precision Health. “However, in most cases, any benefit for increasing vitamin D levels was restricted to those individuals who have very low concentrations,” she added. *Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay 

New wearable device can track tumors in real time

20/10/2022

A revolutionary new wearable sensor, which tracks tumors in real time, could provide invaluable insights into how cancer cells respond to treatments. The new device can report in real time how a tumor is growing or shrinking. The results are sent wirelessly to a smartphone for analysis, enabling physicians to more closely monitor patients' progress. So far, the device has been used and proven itself in animal studies. “Our technology is the first bioelectronic device to monitor tumor regression, and the first technology to monitor tumors in real time,” said Alex Abramson, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech and a co-author of a new study focusing the device. At present, the most common ways to measure tumors are calipers or bioluminescence imaging (BLI). While these methods are useful and, indeed, accurate, they are only typically performed every few days or weeks. With the new wearable sensor, tumor information is captured every 5 minutes, allowing changes to be recorded in a more timely fashion. Furthermore, the new sensor can also detect extremely small changes that calipers and BLI can’t. Our sensor will allow us to better understand the short-term effects of drugs on tumors and allow scientists and health care professionals a more streamlined method to screen drugs that could become therapies in the future,” Abramson added. *Image by Darko Stojanovic from Pixabay

5 hours or less sleep could put older adults at risk of multiple chronic conditions

19/10/2022

Older individuals who regularly sleep for five hours or less could be putting themselves at risk of developing multiple chronic conditions, new research suggests. According to the research, the findings of which are published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine, people aged 50 and over who sleep for five hours or less per night are at greater risk of developing more than one chronic disease compared with their peers who sleep seven hours. In fact, at age 50, those who slept five hours or less had a 30 percent greater risk of multimorbidity compared with those who slept seven hours. “Our study showed that sleep five hours or less is associated with 30 to 40 percent increased risk of onset of multimorbidity,” says lead author Severine Sabia, PhD, of Université Paris Cité, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM), and University College London. The association remained in each decade of life, whether sleep was measured at 50, 60, or 70 years old, says Dr. Sabia. When considered alongside previous research into the importance of sleep, the present study highlights why older individuals should prioritise this aspect of their lives. “Sleep is important for the regulation of several body function such as metabolic, endocrine, and inflammatory regulation over the day, that in turn when dysregulated may contribute to increase risk of several chronic conditions and ultimately death,” Sabia said. *Image by เดชาธร อมาตยกุล from Pixabay 

Eating earlier can reduce weight gain

12/10/2022

Eating earlier in the day can be beneficial for weight loss, new research suggests. According to the study by researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, people who eat later are hungrier during the day and have lower levels of serum leptin, the hormone that helps regulate body fat. Later eaters also burned fewer calories and had a lower core body temperature. The researchers say that eating later actually changes gene expression in adipose tissue in favor of increased fat storage, which could predispose people to becoming obese. Based on the study, the researchers said that people who ate later in the day were twice as likely to feel hungry. They were also more likely to desire certain foods like starchy foods or meat. To thoroughly test, the researchers had half the study group eat earlier in the day and half eat later. Both groups then switched places and tried the alternative eating protocol. The results were mirrored on both occasions, underlining the study findings. Commenting on the study, Julie Palmer, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said that one main takeaway is that we feel hungrier when we wait to eat later in the day. “When higher-calorie foods are more available to us later in the day … we’re more likely to overeat them,” said Palmer.  *Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay 

Lifting weights linked with longer life

06/10/2022

We recently wrote about how 10,000 steps a day may halve dementia risk. Now, separate research has revealed how lifting weights can help people live longer. According to the study by researchers from the National Cancer Institute in Maryland, US, regularly lifting weights was linked to a lower risk of death from any cause, with the exception of cancer. “Older adults who participated in weight lifting exercise had significantly lower mortality before and after factoring in aerobic exercise participation, and importantly, those who did both types of exercise had the lowest risk,” said lead author Jessica Gorzelitz, PhD, researcher in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute. Publishing their findings in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the researchers said individuals who met recommended amounts of both muscle-strengthening exercises and aerobic moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), appeared to gain additional benefit. The findings provide strong support for the current Physical Activity Guidelines for U.S. adults, added Gorzelitz. Current guidelines in the United States on physical activity recommend all adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week, or a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity, or an equal combination of the two. In addition, the guidelines also advocate two or more days of strengthening activities that incorporate all major muscle groups, including the legs, hips, back, abdomen chest, shoulders, and arms. *Image by Fabiano Silva from Pixabay 

10,000 steps a day may halve dementia risk

03/10/2022

Walking 10,000 steps a day could halve your risk of developing dementia in later life, new research suggests.   According to the study, the results of which are published in the journal JAMA Neurology, walking around 9,800 steps per day was associated with a 50% dementia risk reduction. However, there is also good news for people who are unable to achieve this many steps. That’s because walking just 3,826 steps a day reduced dementia risk by 25%.   The study used almost 80,000 individuals’ data from the UK Biobank, of whom 44.7% were male and 55.3% female and had a mean age of 61.1 years. At the start of the study, all participants were free of cardiovascular disease and dementia. The researchers followed up with everyone involved after a median of 6.9 years (6.4–7.5 years).   Dr. Claire Sexton, Alzheimer’s Association senior director of scientific programs and outreach, who was not involved in the study, said: “This is an important study that may help inform public health guidelines around the amount of physical activity necessary to reap health benefits.   “These results are not surprising given the robust data we have linking physical activity and better cognition. A strength of this paper is it used an objective, widely-understood measure of step count rather than self-reported data.”   *Image by Mabel Amber, who will one day from Pixabay

Artificial sweeteners linked with increased cardiovascular disease risk

26/09/2022

Artificial sweeteners are often the go-to choice for people wishing to lose weight, but new research suggests they may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to the study, the results of which are published in the BMJ, artificial sweeteners are associated with a 9 percent higher risk of any type of cardiovascular disease event and an 18 percent increased chance of stroke. “Our results indicate that these food additives, consumed daily by millions of people and present in thousands of foods and beverages, should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar,” the study authors wrote in The BMJ. Moreover, different sweeteners carried different risk. For example, aspartame, sold under the brand names NutraSweet and Equal, was tied to a 17 percent increased risk of stroke. Acesulfame potassium, sold under the brand names Sweet One and Sunett, was linked to a 40 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease. For the study, more than 100,000 adults (mostly female) were followed for around a decade, making it the largest to date to investigate cardiovascular health problems associated with sugar substitutes. At the start of the study, none of the participants had a history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes — and none of them were diagnosed with these conditions during the first two years of follow-up. *Image by designfoto from Pixabay 

Good dental health can reduce dementia risk

15/09/2022

People with poor dental hygiene are 21% more likely to develop dementia in later life, new research suggests. According to the study, recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, poor oral health and tooth loss increased the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The study authors said their findings emphasize the importance of monitoring, as well as management of “periodontal health in the context of dementia prevention”. They added that because of this finding, dental professionals are in a great position to track and intervene should a patient's periodontal health begin to deteriorate. “Our mouth is full of bacteria (good and bad). We need these bacteria to live in equilibrium and when our dental hygiene is missing, the bad bacteria can overcome and install in our gums. There is evidence that bacteria can travel to the brain and participate with neurodegeneration that will ultimately decline our cognitive health,” she told Healthline. “Oral health is important for our overall quality of life. Taking care of our mouth is as important as taking care of our body. Our mouth is more exposed to the environment, and it is the entrance to our entire body,” she added. The research has spoken: Brush your teeth two to three times a day and visit a dentist twice a year as routine, or sooner if you notice a change in your dental health. *Image by Reto Gerber from Pixabay 

Switch 30 mins of social media for exercise to reap mental health benefits – study

13/09/2022

By replacing 30 minutes of daily social media use with physical activity, you will feel happier, new research suggests. According to the new study, switching social media for exercise for just two weeks can have a positive impact. The research team from the Mental Health Research and Treatment Center at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany, headed up by assistant professor Julia Brailovskaia, Ph.D., reported that participants who swapped social media for exercise felt more satisfied, less depressed, and less stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic than their peers in a control group. Furthermore, the positive effects of the two-week period lasted for up to six months after the study concluded. “Given that we don’t know for certain how long the coronavirus crisis will last, we wanted to know how to protect people’s mental health with services that are as free and low-threshold as possible,” Brailovskaia said in a statement. “This shows us how vital it is to reduce our availability online from time to time and to go back to our human roots,” she added. “These measures can be easily implemented into one’s everyday life and they’re completely free – and, at the same time, they help us to stay happy and healthy in the digital age.” *image courtesy of Irina L from Pixabay 

Scottish smokers face fines for lighting up outside hospitals

06/09/2022

Smoking outside hospitals is now banned in Scotland, with individuals who break the rules liable to hefty fines, under the new rules. From Monday 5 September, anyone found smoking within 15 feet of a hospital in Scotland could be fined up to £1,000. The new regulations are the latest part of the Scottish Government's overall efforts to create a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034. Sheila Duffy from independent Scottish charity Ash Scotland hopes the new legislation will prevent tobacco smoke being drawn in through windows, doorways and vents. She told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland: "It has effects on the blood, it has effects on the lungs and it interferes with people getting well, which is what they are in there to do. "There are newborns and people who are ill in hospitals and this measure is about creating cleaner air for their stay and making sure that they get out as healthy as possible. "This is a toxic substance. It is preventable and is not a welcome addition to the indoor air in hospitals.” Hospital authorities in Scotland - those who are already responsible for enforcing indoor smoke-free legislation - will implement the new rules. *Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Here's the lowdown on Tomato Flu

30/08/2022

A few months ago, we told you about an emerging health threat that was receiving a lot of attention: monkey pox.Today we're here to explain a little more about another health issue that is gaining some traction in the headlines at the moment: Tomato Flu. Called Tomato Flu because of the painful, red blisters it causes that can be as big as a tomato, the likely viral disease has so far impacted more than 100 children in India's Kerala region. According to The Lancet medical journal, Tomato Flu was first identified in the Kollam district of Kerala, India on May 6, 2022. The journal further notes that the disease is considered non-life-threatening and resolves on its own in time. Furthermore, The Lancet says that Tomato Flu's primary symptoms observed in infected children resemble those of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus which can cause high fever, rashes, and intense pain in joints. “Transmission is likely to be through close contact,” said Hannah Newman, MPH, director of infection prevention at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “The virus has been named tomato flu on the basis of the red, painful blisters it causes that can mimic the look and size of a tomato,” Newman added. Seeing as Tomato Flu is contagious, there is a significant chance it could spread outside of India. *Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

New adhesive bandage offers twice the sticking power and pain free removal

18/08/2022

If you cut your finger, providing it's only a minor wound, one of the first things you'll reach for is an adhesive bandage. These simple yet effective medical dressings are found in most households around the world. But they have a couple of pitfalls: sometimes, they don't stick very well and oftentimes it hurts when they are removed. Now, researchers from Pennsylvania are looking to change this by developing an adhesive bandage that sticks well to skin – even hairy areas – and causes little pain when it is removed. To solve the problem, the researchers turned to the main ingredient in school glue. The problem with existing adhesive bandages is the ones that stick hard and fast are usually difficult to remove and can cause pain – especially if they are placed on sensitive skin. Other adhesive bandages are easier to remove but don't have the sticking power required to keep a wound closed, allowing to heal. Outlining their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia say their new bandage has been developed using vinyl alcohol – a primary ingredient in the glue – and boric acid, a common and naturally occurring compound frequently used in antiseptics. The result is an adhesive bandage that can effectively hold wound closed, yet can be painlessly removed by soaking it in water for just 30 seconds. *Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Reducing salt intake by just 1g per day can reduce heart disease risk

17/08/2022

Reducing salt intake by just 1g per day can significantly lower a person's risk of heart disease, a new study has found. According to the Chinese study, published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention, & Health, almost 9 million cardiovascular events could be prevented each year by 2030 if people cut their salt intake by just 1g per day. Despite the World Health Organization recommending people to eat a maximum of 5g of salt per day, the researchers noted that China has one of the highest daily salt intakes in the world with an average consumption of 11 grams per day – more than twice the WHO recommended amount. Furthermore, around 40 per cent of all deaths in China are associated with or because of cardiovascular disease. Specifically, the researchers found that reducing salt by 1g per day could lower the average systolic blood pressure by 1.2 mm/Hg, potentially preventing 9 million cardiovascular disease events and stroke cases by 2030 – of which 4 million would be fatal. “While this study focused on the salt intake in China, the benefits of salt reduction in an American diet are well established,” Dr. Jeffrey Tyler, a cardiologist with Providence St. Joseph Hospital in California, told Healthline. “People who are middle or older age, diabetic, with kidney disease… benefit, even more, when reducing salt intake.” *Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Short walks after meals lowers diabetes risk – study

10/08/2022

Taking a short walk after eating can help lower the risk of type-2 diabetes and heart problems, a new study suggests. According to the study, published in Sports Medicine, just 2 to 5 minutes of light walking after a meal can reduce blood sugar and insulin levels. Blood glucose levels spike after eating, triggering the pancreas to release insulin to control the increase and promote the storage of glucose in fat, muscle, liver and other body tissues. Over time, some people's cells develop a resistance to insulin, which can lead to blood glucose levels remaining elevated. If this persists, complications, including cardiovascular disease and nerve damage, can occur. “With standing and walking, there are contractions of your muscles” that use glucose and lower blood sugar levels, Aidan Buffey, the lead study author and a PhD student in physical education and sport sciences at the University of Limerick, told The Times. “If you can do physical activity before the glucose peak, typically 60 to 90 minutes [after eating], that is when you’re going to have the benefit of not having the glucose spike,” he said. *Image by

Green tea may help reduce blood sugar and gut inflammation

04/08/2022

Its origins date back to 2737 B.C. in the Far East when the Chinese Emperor Shennong mistakenly drank water with a dead tea leaf boiled inside. Fast forward to today and people all over the world enjoy green tea as part of their diet, benefiting from the list of potential health benefits in the process. Now, new research shows that green tea may also help reduce blood sugar and gut inflammation. According to the study, published in Current Developments in Nutrition, people who regularly consume green tea have lower fasting blood sugar levels than their peers who don't. Furthermore, green tea extract was also found to decrease gut inflammation, highlighted by a decrease in stool inflammatory proteins. Senior study co-author Richard Bruno, PhD, a professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University, said the study showed positive results after just one month. “What this tells us is that within one month we’re able to lower blood glucose in both people with metabolic syndrome and healthy people, and the lowering of blood glucose appears to be related to decreasing leaky gut and decreasing gut inflammation — regardless of health status,” he said in a statement. “This could be a simple yet powerful intervention for people with metabolic syndrome or those at risk for it. It could be a therapy to start while we continue to promote healthy lifestyle changes,” said Olivia Vaughn, a registered dietitian nutritionist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. *Image by Mirko Stödter from Pixabay 

Smartphones could improve memory - study

02/08/2022

Smartphones and other electronic gadgets have been an ubiquitous part of many people's lives for years now. But while the myriad of apps that are available include many that can help us not forget important details or dates, there has always been some debate around how good these gadgets are for our own internal memories. Now, new research has shed a light on the subject. According to the study, published on August 1 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, external memory devices can actually improve memory for information that someone has never saved. For the study, led by University College London (UCL) researchers, 158 volunteers were asked to play one of three memory task games involving high and low value circles on a touchscreen digital tablet or computer. The researchers found that digital devices help people to store and remember very important information. This, in turn, frees up their own memory to recall additional, less important pieces of information. Participants who tended to use the digital devices to store the details of the high-value circles in the trial, demonstrated a memory improvement of 18%. Their memory for low-value circles was also improved by 27%, even in people who had never set any reminders for low-value circles. Senior author, Dr Sam Gilbert (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience) said: “The results show that external memory tools work. Far from causing ‘digital dementia’, using an external memory device can even improve our memory for information that we never saved. But we need to be careful that we back up the most important information. Otherwise, if a memory tool fails, we could be left with nothing but lower-importance information in our own memory.” *Image by Thorsten Frenzel from Pixabay

Eating ultra-processed foods associated with poorer cognitive performance

28/07/2022

Eating ultra-processed foods could impair cognitive performance in older adults, new research suggests. According to the study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, older individuals who eat foods such as packaged snacks, breakfast cereals, choclates and pre-prepared pies, pizzas and pasta perform worse on standardized cognitive tests than their counterparts who do not consume such foods. The researchers from Australia that such food items contain little to no whole foods and typically include flavorings, colorings, emulsifiers, and other cosmetic additives. For the study, the researchers evaluated more than 2,700 participants who were 60 years old and above. The participants were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2011 to 2014. Each participant was asked to recall what they ate in a 24-hour period on two non-consecutive days. The participants then underwent standardized, validated cognitive tests, including one that assesses Alzheimer’s disease. “Research indicates that diets that follow a Mediterranean Diet style, recognized by the high proportion of foods with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, are associated with a reduced risk of age-associated cognitive decline and dementia,” said Barbara Cardoso, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a senior lecturer in nutrition, dietetics, and food at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. *Image by Hannah Chen from Pixabay

Wearable fitness trackers promote positive health changes - study

26/07/2022

The global wearable fitness tracker market is expected to be worth a staggering $138.7 billion by 2028, testimony to the enormous popularity of these devices. Now, new research shows that fitness trackers really do help motivate people to exercise more each day. According to the large-scale review published in The Lancet by researchers from the University of South Australia (UniSA), wearable fitness trackers promote positive health changes. They spur individuals to move more and lose a modest amount of weight as a result. “Since activity trackers are becoming so widely used in society, research into their effectiveness has grown rapidly,” said lead researcher and UniSA PhD candidate Ty Ferguson. “We realized now was a great time to pull all this knowledge together and see if there is an overall message on their utility as health tools.” For its research, the UniSA team reviewed nearly 400 studies involving around 164,000 participants worldwide who use wearable fitness trackers to monitor their physical activity levels. The team found that wearable fitness trackers motivate people to walk up to 40 minutes more each day, equivalent to roughly 1,800 more steps. This resulted in an average weight loss of 1kg (2.2 lbs) over a 5-month period. “What was a nice surprise is just how helpful they were for such a wide variety of people, including all ages, healthy people, and those living with a variety of chronic conditions,” said Ferguson. *Image by Phi Nguyễn from Pixabay

How to recognise the signs of heat illness

21/07/2022

As temperatures across Europe hit record-breaking highs, it is worth noting the potentially serious consequences of heat illness and some of the associated symptoms, so you can recognise the signs before it's too late. Heat stroke can be fatal and it is significantly more likely to occur during heatwaves. Heat stroke happens when the body can no longer sufficiently regulate its temperature to keep cool. As a result, within just 15 mins a person could find themselves in trouble. Without emergency treatment, heat stroke can lead to permanent disability or even death. Heat exhaustion symptoms include: Heavy sweating Faintness Weak, rapid pulse Muscle cramps Nausea Headaches Extreme thirst Heat stroke, which often develops after heat exhaustion, is a medical emergency and in addition to the symptoms outlined above someone may also experience seizures, shortness of breath and loss of consciousness. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of heat stroke, you should seek emergency medical help. Drinking plenty of water, taking cool baths/showers and avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm can help reduce your chances of developing heat illness. *Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How to recognise the signs of heat illness

21/07/2022

As temperatures across Europe hit record-breaking highs, it is worth noting the potentially serious consequences of heat illness and some of the associated symptoms, so you can recognise the signs before it's too late. Heat stroke can be fatal and it is significantly more likely to occur during heatwaves. Heat stroke happens when the body can no longer sufficiently regulate its temperature to keep cool. As a result, within just 15 mins a person could find themselves in trouble. Without emergency treatment, heat stroke can lead to permanent disability or even death. Heat exhaustion symptoms include: Heavy sweating Faintness Weak, rapid pulse Muscle cramps Nausea Headaches Extreme thirst Heat stroke, which often develops after heat exhaustion, is a medical emergency and in addition to the symptoms outlined above someone may also experience seizures, shortness of breath and loss of consciousness. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of heat stroke, you should seek emergency medical help. Drinking plenty of water, taking cool baths/showers and avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm can help reduce your chances of developing heat illness. *Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How to recognise the signs of heat illness

21/07/2022

As temperatures across Europe hit record-breaking highs, it is worth noting the potentially serious consequences of heat illness and some of the associated symptoms, so you can recognise the signs before it's too late. Heat stroke can be fatal and it is significantly more likely to occur during heatwaves. Heat stroke happens when the body can no longer sufficiently regulate its temperature to keep cool. As a result, within just 15 mins a person could find themselves in trouble. Without emergency treatment, heat stroke can lead to permanent disability or even death. Heat exhaustion symptoms include: Heavy sweating Faintness Weak, rapid pulse Muscle cramps Nausea Headaches Extreme thirst Heat stroke, which often develops after heat exhaustion, is a medical emergency and in addition to the symptoms outlined above someone may also experience seizures, shortness of breath and loss of consciousness. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of heat stroke, you should seek emergency medical help. Drinking plenty of water, taking cool baths/showers and avoiding the sun between 11am and 3pm can help reduce your chances of developing heat illness. *Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

New smartphone-enabled home kidney test cleared for use by FDA

19/07/2022

People who are at risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD) can now monitor their kidney health from the comfort of their own homes thanks to a new smartphone-enabled test. Healthy.io’s Minuteful Kidney™ test, as it is known, uses a smartphone’s camera to look for the protein albumin in the individual’s urine. By monitoring their own kidney health, people can not only benefit from problems being detected early, but also need to take fewer trips to their doctor’s office or clinical laboratory. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the Minuteful Kidney test 510(k) clearance this month, enabling millions of Americans to potentially take advantage of it. Andrea Somerville, from Boston, is one such American who is already using the new test after her health insurer ordered it for her. whose doctor is monitoring her kidney function, received a Minuteful Kidney test kit in the mail after her health insurer ordered one for her. “It was easy to do and really easy to upload everything to my phone so that the results could go to me and to my doctor,” she said. “The other piece that’s nice,” she added, “is that you find out the results right then and there, and it’s done in the privacy of your own home.” *image courtesy of healthy.io

Common weedkiller found in 80% of people's urine

13/07/2022

A widely used weedkiller has been found in the urine of 80% of people who were tested as part of a national survey in the United States, including children as young as six. Of the 2,310 people whose urine was tested for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1,885 samples were found to contain glyphosate, one of the most popular weedkillers used around the world and the main active ingredient in the Roundup brand, owned by German pharmaceutical company Bayer. Almost a third of samples came from minors. The survey forms part of a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program. "Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the country, yet until now we had very little data on exposure," Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at the Environmental Working Group, said in a statement. "Children in the United States are regularly exposed to this cancer-causing weedkiller through the food they eat virtually every day." Despite insisting that glyphosate is safe, Bayer is currently facing thousands of lawsuits which claim the chemical causes cancer. Bayer previously won four separate trials of a similar nature. In 202, the Environmental Protection Agency stated that glyphosate poses no serious health risk to humans and is “not likely” to cause cancer. *Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

AHA adds sleep to heart health checklist

07/07/2022

The American Heart Association (AHA) has added sleep to its cardiovascular health checklist for the first time. Sleep now joins diet, exercise, tobacco use, weight, cholesterol, blood sugar levels and blood pressure on the association's list of factors people can modify to stay healthy. The AHA published its new checklist, called “Life’s Essential 8,” in the journal Circulation on June 29. The old checklist, created in 2010, was known as “Life’s Simple 7.” “Not only is sleep health related to the other things that play a role in heart health, it seems to also be directly related to cardiovascular health itself,” says Michael Grandner, PhD, the director of the sleep and health research program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, who helped compile the new AHA checklist. “Sleep is changeable, and studies show that you can improve aspects of heart health just by improving sleep,” Dr. Grandner says. People who get less than six hours of good quality sleep a night are at increased risk of obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, as well as worse mental and cognitive health, Grandner says. Likewise, those who get more than nine hours of sleep a night are also less likely to be healthy and more likely to die prematurely, he added. *Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

Just one in five Americans have 'optimal' heart health

30/06/2022

Only 20% of American adults have 'optimal' heart health, new research reveals. According to the study by the American Heart Association (AHA), the US population is well below optimal levels of cardiovascular health. This is based on AHA's Life’s Essential 8™ cardiovascular health scoring, its updated metrics to measure heart and brain health. The AHA's Life’s Essential 8 scoring includes: diet physical activity nicotine exposure sleep health body weight blood lipids blood glucos blood pressure With sleep being the newest addition. For the AHA study, researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 2013 to 2018. This data included non-pregnant, non-institutionalized individuals between two and 79 years old who did not have cardiovascular disease. All participants had an overall cardiovascular health (CVH) score calculated for them ranging from 0 to 100, as well as a score for diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass index (BMI), blood lipids, blood glucose, and blood pressure – all using AHA definitions. The results revealed that among the more than 23,400 American adults and children without cardiovascular disease (CVD), overall cardiovascular health was not ideal. Indeed, the research showed roughly 80% of people scored at a low or moderate level. Mitchell Weinberg, MD, chair of cardiology at Staten Island University Hospital, part of Northwell Health in New York, the AHA's Life’s Essential 8 scoring is both valuable and patient friendly for determining CVH. “Possessing one number that crystallizes a person’s current health status enables that individual to comprehend the need for change and target a single numeric goal,” he said. *Image by Andrzej Rembowski from Pixabay

Fit kids are mentally sharper in later life, finds study

29/06/2022

Kids who are physically active stand a greater chance of remaining mentally sharp for decades, new research suggests. The finding adds to the weight of evidence in favour of kids being physically active, such as the associated bone and muscle development benefits and reduced risk of diabetes and heart attack. The study by researchers in Australia followed 1,200 people for 30 years. It uncovered a link between childhood fitness and mental performance in middle age. Commencing in 1985, the study assessed the heart and lung fitness, power, and endurance, and measured for waist-to-hip ratio of children between the ages of 7 and 15 at the time. More than 30 years later, those with the highest fitness scores and lower waist-to-hip ratios as kids tended to score better in tests of their thinking skills. Interestingly, while physical exercise was associated with higher scores in things like processing speed and attention, it had no impact on memory. Michele Callisaya, PhD, a study co-author and associate professor from the National Centre for Healthy Ageing at Peninsula Health and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, said: “This might be because the cognitive functions of processing speed and attention start to decline in midlife. Memory generally starts to decline later.” The results of the study are published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. *Image by Tri Le from Pixabay

How many immune-boosting microbes do people eat?

22/06/2022

Our gut microbiome – the trillions of bacteria, fungi, viruses and germs that live in our digestive tracts – is hugely important when it comes to health, influencing our immune systems, as well as our physical and mental states. But while we know that certain foods, such as fermented produce, yogurts, and non-starchy vegetables can help boost gut health, little is known about how many immune-boosting microorganisms people actually eat on a day-to-day basis as part of their diets. To investigate, researchers estimated the number of microorganisms per gram in more than 9,000 food items, including those high in such organisms, like yogurt, pickles, and kimchi. Then, to see how many people ate foods packed with microorganisms, the researchers took a detail look dietary data collected from 2001 to 2018 for almost 75,000 adults and children. Overall, 26% of adults and 20% of children consumed foods with high levels of microorganisms, researchers reported in The Journal of Nutrition. "When we think of microbes in our food, we often think of either foodborne pathogens that cause disease or probiotics that provide a documented health benefit," study co-author Colin Hill, PhD, of APC Microbiome Ireland at University College Cork, said in a statement. "It is very timely to estimate the daily intake of microbes by individuals in modern society as a first step towards a scientific evaluation of the importance of dietary microbes in human health and well-being," he added. *Image by rhys jung from Pixabay

2-3 cups of coffee a day may reduce kidney injury risk by almost a quarter

16/06/2022

Coffee consumption is linked to numerous health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, as well as liver, heart, and neurological diseases. Now, new research suggests we can also add kidney protection to that list. According to the study, the results of which are published in Kidney International Reports, people who regularly drink coffee have a reduced risk acute kidney injury. However, the benefits are most apparent in those who drink 2-3 cups of coffee each day. For the study, the team of researchers used data from 14,207 adults ages 45-64 from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. The researchers asked the participants to disclose information relating to how much coffee they drank. The results were:  27% never drank coffee 14% drank less than a cup of coffee per day 19% drank 1 cup per day 23% drank 2-3 cups per day 17% drank more than 3 cups per day After adjusting for demographic factors, the researchers found that participants who consumed any amount of coffee had an 11% lower risk of developing acute kidney injury than those who did not drink coffee. The researchers further noted a that those consuming 2-3 cups of coffee per day experienced the most substantial risk reduction (23%) *Image by Craig Melville from Pixabay

Study suggests walking can help with knee pain

14/06/2022

As counterintuitive as it sounds, walking may actually help with knee pain associated with osteoarthritis, new research shows. The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is a condition that affects more than 32 million American adults. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time. The study, the results of which are published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, found that walking regularly helped stave off knee pain in osteoarthritis sufferers. “In individuals > 50 years old with knee osteoarthritis, walking for exercise was associated with less development of frequent knee pain,” the authors wrote. “These findings support that walking for exercise should be encouraged for people with knee osteoarthritis.” For the study, more than 1,000 people aged 50 and over with osteoarthritis were asked to report on their levels of exercise, osteoarthritis symptoms, and pain levels. After four years, more than a third (37%) who didn’t walk for exercise experienced frequent pain, while just 26% of those who walked experienced the same pain. “Everyone’s always looking for some kind of drug. This highlights the importance and likelihood that interventions for osteoarthritis might be something different, including good old exercise,” Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, MD, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the lead author on the study, told The New York Times. *Image by Susanne Pälmer from Pixabay

Weight-loss surgery found to slash cancer risk and mortality

09/06/2022

Bariatric surgery, also commonly referred to as weight-loss surgery, can help to reduce the risk of developing six different types of cancer associated with obesity, new research suggests. For the study, more than 1,600 obese people who had either gastric bypass surgery or sleeve gastrectomy surgery were compared to a control group of over, 2,100 obese individuals with obesity who did not undergo surgery. Both groups were matched in terms of age, sex and BMI. According to the study, the findings of which were presented at the 2022 annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), people who underwent bariatric surgery were also less likely to develop any type of cancer compared to their obese peers who had not had surgery. In fact, the study found that only 5.2 percent of people who had bariatric surgery went on to develop some type of cancer during the 10-year study period, compared to 12.2 percent of those who did not have weight loss surgery. Furthermore, the overall 10-year survival rate for patients who underwent surgery was 92.9 percent, while it was just 78.9 percent for the non-surgical group. Commenting on the study, Dr. Shanu Kothari, president of the ASMBS, said: “Patients live longer after bariatric surgery because they have less cardiac events and less cancers.” *Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

Cancer-killing virus injected into human in new trial

07/06/2022

A virus that infects and kills cancer cells has been injected into a human patient for the first time as part of a new clinical trial. The novel therapy, CF33-hNIS, also called Vaxinia, is what is known as a oncolytic virus i.e. one that deliberately targets cancel cells while avoiding healthy cells. It infiltrates the cancer cells and rapidly replicates, killing its host. At low doses, the therapy has been shown to reduce the size of a broad range of cancers in animal and laboratory models. And according to Imugene Limited, a clinical cancer research company, it can also help prime peoples' immune systems against cancer. For the phase one clinical trial, Vaxinia will be injected into people who have solid tumors and have received at least two types of prior treatment. The virus is either injected directly into the tumor itself or via the patient's vein. This phase of the trial is designed to judge Vaxinia's safety and tolerability in human patients. "Our previous research demonstrated that oncolytic viruses can stimulate the immune system to respond to and kill cancer, as well as stimulate the immune system to be more responsive to other immunotherapies," says City of Hope oncologist and principal investigator Daneng Li. "We believe CF33-hNIS has the potential to improve outcomes for our patients." *Image courtesy of PIRO4D from Pixabay

Drinking coffee (even with sugar) linked to longer life

03/06/2022

Drinking coffee – even with sugar in it – is linked to a longer lifespan, new research has revealed. According to the study by researchers at the Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, people who drink coffee moderately are more likely to live longer than those who drink less or more. For the study, the researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank, a database of around half a million people who have consented to having their medical and genetic information made available to researchers. The study team found that people who drank between 1.5 and 3.5 cups of coffee per day were less likely to die (due to any cause) during a 7-year follow up period. Perhaps more surprising is the finding that people who drink sweetened coffee appear to benefit the most. Indeed, these individuals were as much as 31% less likely to die than those who drink less than 1.5 cups and more than 3.5 cups per day. However, lead researcher Dr. Dan Liu said: “The results for those who used artificial sweeteners were less clear.” “Based on the findings, we can tell people that there is no need for most coffee drinkers to eliminate the beverage from their diet, but to be cautious about higher-calorie specialty coffees,” Liu concluded. In other words, be conscious of how much added sugar sometimes goes into popular coffee shop chain beverages. *Image courtesy of Soner Köse from Pixabay

A cup of cranberries a day could keep cognitive decline away

26/05/2022

A new study has shed more light on the potential health benefits of cranberries, specifically how they might help fight cognitive decline because of a particular group of plant compounds they contain known as flavanoids. In previous studies, flavanoids, which are found in vegetables, fruit, red wine, tea, and coffee, have been associated with slower rates of cognitive decline and lower dementia risk. Cranberries are actually rich in two types of flavonoids: anthocyanin and proanthocyanidins. Dr. David Vauzour, senior research fellow in molecular nutrition at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, wanted to investigate how cranberries impact the brain. To address the knowledge gap, Dr. Vauzour led a new study, the results of which are published in Frontiers in Nutrition. Interestingly, the stufy revealed a link between consuming the equivalent of a cup of cranberries a day and improved memory function. For the study, 60 pre-screened participants were separated into two groups and asked to undergo pre-intervention baseline tests to assess their cognitive levels. Participants were then asked to either take a sachet of freeze-dried cranberry powder or a placebo for a period of 12 weeks. Follow-up testing revealed that the group taking the cranberry powder not only demonstrated significant improvements in visual episodic memory performance, but also had increased flow in three areas of their brains. Dr. Vauzour says he would now like to see this study replicated with a larger sample size. *Image by Kristine Lejniece from Pixabay

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