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Health Bulletin


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  1. #1181
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Spend long hours in front of PC? Beware of RSI

    Pain around the neck and upper limbs? Beware! It could be Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) that comes from spending long hours before a computer.

    At the NH Narayana Multispeciality hospital in Bangalore, an average of 200 patients, all in the age group of 20-30 and mostly from the IT crowd, come with complaints of RSI), which is increasingly becoming common among youngsters in high-stress jobs and can take months to recover from.

    "High stress jobs like in the IT industry that requires one to sit in front of the computer for 14-16 hours every day, leading them to slouch and sit in a bad posture, with hardly any physical activity, leads to Repetitive Strain Injury. It has become fairly common for youngsters to come with complaints of such nature," Malchira S Somanna, consultant orthopaedician at Narayana hospital, told IANS.

    Indications of RSI could be a tingling sensation in the hands with numbness, called Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, pain around the neck and upper shoulders, and feeling a "heavy burden" on the shoulders. Nearly 90% of the orthopaedic patients in the out patient department (OPD) of Narayana hospital are RSI patients from various multinational companies and IT industry.

    It's a similar scenario in the national capital, where JD Mukherji, director, Neurology at Max Hospital, says that he gets two-three patients every day complaining of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.

    "Carpel Tunnel syndrome is very common and I get about 20 cases every week. This happens when the median nerve gets compressed, leading to tingling sensation in the hand that worsens at night," Mukherji told IANS. Carpel Tunnel syndrome patients, he added, are however not just young workers but also those suffering from diabetes, hypothyroidism, and rheumatic arthritis.

    Treatment of RSI is usually multi-pronged, involving exercises and physiotherapy, and not just medicines, and it could take three weeks to six months to recover. Doctors say that if one ignores the pain and tries to live off painkillers, the condition has every chance to worsen and recovery may take longer.

    "The treatment of RSI is to avoid using the affected tendons and nerves. For example overusing the phone can result in the inflammation of the elbow. So overusing the injured muscles can result in weakening of the muscle, and can even lead to disability. So the best prevention for such a situation is to avoid overusing affected muscles," Mukherji said.

    Doctors suggest various ways to avoid overusing affected muscles. For instance, using a pen to hit the keyboard, changing the inclination of the computer to 15-20 degrees for a better posture, or using a chair that is more comfortable and is at an ideal height.

    Raju Vaishya, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Apollo Hospital and president of the Arthritis Care Foundation, further said that writer's cramp (cramp in the hands), tennis elbow (elbow pain), and osteoarthritis (knee pain) are also common.

    "RSI is caused because of repetitive use of the musculoskeletal system in performing certain sets of work without adequate breaks, and sometimes in a bad posture. This is why most of our patients, in the 25-35 age group, are into jobs that require long hours in front of the computer," Vaishya told IANS.

    "Such stress causes pain and sometimes long-term disability. The prevention lies in avoiding repetitive stress at work by understanding the ergonomics of your job and taking mini breaks after every one hour. Sitting in a good posture at your work desk and using the computers in the most efficient and correct way can prevent a lot of RSI," he added.


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  2. #1182
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Text messages can help quit smoking: Study

    Text messages can give smokers the constant reminders they need to stay focused on quitting and double their chances of kicking the butt, a new study has found.

    More than 11% of smokers who used a text-messaging programme to help them quit did so and remained smoke free at the end of a six-month study as compared to just 5% of controls, according to researchers at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University (Milken Institute SPH).

    "Text messages seem to give smokers the constant reminders they need to stay focused on quitting," said Lorien C Abroms, an associate professor of prevention and community health at Milken Institute SPH and lead author of the study.

    "However, additional studies must be done to confirm this result and to look at how these programmes work when coupled with other established anti-smoking therapies," Abroms said.

    Smokers trying to quit can turn to the tried-and-true methods like phone counselling through a quit line and nicotine replacement therapies, but increasingly the evidence is building for using text messaging on mobile phones.

    Text-messaging programmes, like Text2Quit, work by sending advice, reminders and tips that help smokers resist the craving for a cigarette and stick to a quit date.

    Despite the widespread use of anti-smoking apps and texting programmes, there had been no long-term studies of such programmes in the US.

    Most of the existing research on such programmes were small in size, lacked a control group, and did not biochemically verify smoking status, Abroms said.

    To help address such gaps, Abroms and her colleagues decided to carry out a large, randomized trial of a text-messaging programme.

    They recruited 503 smokers on the internet and randomized them to receive either a text-messaging programme called Text2Quit or self-help material aimed at getting smokers to quit.

    At the end of six months, the researchers sent out a survey to find out how many people in each group had stopped smoking.

    They found that people using the text-messaging programme had a much higher likelihood of quitting compared to the control group, a finding that suggests that text-messaging programmes can provide an important boost for people struggling with a tobacco habit.

    To verify the positive results, the researchers collected a sample of saliva from smokers who reported quitting and tested it to see if it showed any evidence of a nicotine byproduct called cotinine.


  3. #1183
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Angry faces back up verbal threats: Study

    Negotiating salary for a new job? Angry facial expressions might help! Angry expressions seem to boost the effectiveness of threats making them seem more credible, according to a new research.

    The findings show that angry expressions lend additional weight to a negotiator's threat to walk away from the table if his or her demands aren't met, leading the other party in the negotiation to offer more money than they otherwise would have, researchers said.

    "Our facial expressions are relatively more difficult to control than our words," said psychological scientist Lawrence Ian Reed, the research author.


  4. #1184
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    In a first, doctors to kill patients to save their lives

    Trauma patients arriving at an emergency room here after sustaining a gunshot or knife wound may find themselves enrolled in a startling medical experiment. Surgeons will drain their blood and replace it with freezing saltwater. Without heartbeat and brain activity, the patients will be clinically dead. And then the surgeons will try to save their lives.

    Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have begun a clinical trial that pushes the boundaries of conventional surgery — and, some say, medical ethics. By inducing hypothermia and slowing metabolism in dying patients, doctors hope to buy valuable time in which to mend the victims' wounds.

    But scientists have never tried anything like this in humans, and the unconscious patients will not be able to give consent for the procedure. Indeed, the medical centre has been providing free bracelets to be worn by skittish citizens here who do not want to participate should they somehow wind up in the ER. "This is 'Star Wars' stuff," said Dr Thomas M Scalea, a trauma specialist at the University of Maryland. "If you told people we would be doing this a few years ago, they'd tell you to stop smoking whatever you're smoking, because you've clearly lost your mind."

    Submerged in a frozen lake or stowed away in the wheel well of a jumbo jet at 38,000 feet, people can survive for hours with little or no oxygen if their bodies are kept cold. In the 1960s, surgeons in Siberia began putting babies in snow banks before heart surgery to improve their chances of survival. Patients are routinely cooled before surgical procedures that involve stopping the heart. But so-called therapeutic hypothermia has never been tried in patients when the injury has already occurred, and until now doctors have never tried to replace a patient's blood entirely with cold saltwater. In their trial, funded by the department of defence, doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will be performing the procedure only on patients who arrive at the ER with "catastrophic penetrating trauma" and who have lost so much blood that they have gone into cardiac arrest.

    At normal body temperatures, surgeons typically have less than five minutes to restore blood flow before brain damage occurs. "In these situations, less than one in 10 survive," said Dr Samuel A Tisherman, the lead researcher of the study. "We want to give people better odds." Dr Tisherman and his team will insert a tube called a cannula into the patient's aorta, flushing the circulatory system with a cold saline solution until body temperature falls to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As the patient enters a sort of suspended animation, without vital signs, the surgeons will have perhaps one hour to repair the injuries before brain damage occurs.

    After the operation, the team will use a heart-lung bypass machine with a heat exchanger to return blood to the patient. The blood will warm the body gradually, which should circumvent injuries that can happen when tissue is suddenly subjected to oxygen after a period of deprivation.

    If the procedure works, the patient's heart should resume beating when body temperature reaches 85 to 90 degrees. But regaining consciousness may take several hours or several days. Dr Tisherman and his colleagues plan to try the technique on 10 subjects, then review the data, consider changes in their approach, and enroll another 10. For every patient who has the operation, there will be a control subject for comparison.

    The experiment officially began in April and the surgeons predict they will see about one qualifying patient a month. It may take a couple of years to complete the study. Citing the preliminary nature of the research, Dr Tisherman declined to say whether he had already operated on a patient.


  5. #1185
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Human tongue has a sixth taste sense

    In addition to recognizing sweet, sour, salty, savory (umami), and bitter tastes, your tongue has a sixth taste sense, the "sense of carbs", that allows you to perceive carbohydrates — the nutrients that break down into sugar and form the main source of energy.

    The "sense of carbs" also triggers the pleasure centre of the brain and could explain why people often find diet foods unsatisfying, a research shows.

    "The mouth is a more capable sensory organ than we currently appreciate, able to distinguish carbohydrates from artificial sweeteners when both taste identical," said Nicholas Gant from University of Auckland in New Zealand.

    Carbohydrates are extremely powerful stimuli that have profound and immediate effects on the brain and the systems it controls, Gant added.

    For the study, researchers asked participants to squeeze a sensor held between their right index finger and thumb when shown a visual cue.

    At the same time, the participants' tongues were rinsed with one of three different fluids.

    The first two were artificially sweetened — to identical tastes — but with only one containing carbohydrate. The third, a control, was neither sweet nor carb-loaded.

    When the carbohydrate solution was used, the researchers observed a 30 percent increase in activity for the brain areas that control movement and vision. This reaction, they propose, is caused by our mouths reporting that additional energy in the form of carbohydrates is coming.

    "This 'sixth taste sense' for carbohydrate is likely one of many additional food qualities that are detectable by receptors in the mouth," Gant was quoted as saying in media reports.

    The study is set to appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal Appetite.


  6. #1186
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    An injection to permanently reduce cholesterol in humans soon

    A single injection may soon permanently lower cholesterol levels in humans reducing their risk of heart attack by 90%.

    Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) scientists collaborating with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a "genome-editing" approach for permanently reducing cholesterol levels in mice through a single injection.

    The work focused on altering the function of a liver gene called PCSK9.

    In 2003, a group of researchers in France studying families with very high cholesterol levels and very early heart attacks discovered that PCSK9 was a cholesterol regulator because they found that mutations in this gene seemed to be responsible for the high cholesterol levels and the heart attacks.

    A research group in Texas discovered that about 3% of the population has mutations in PCSK9 that have the opposite effect. Those with the mutations have low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad) cholesterol levels about 15 to 28% lower than the average level.

    And the people with that good defect have heart attack risks that range from about 47 to 88% below average.

    The project to turn normal PCSK9 genes into those with the good defect started last year after a technology called CRISPR/Cas9, was discovered.

    "Cas9 is a protein that will create a break in DNA and the CRISPR is an RNA component that will bind to a matching sequence. It directs the Cas9 to that sequence in the DNA in which we are interested. This creates a break where you want it. The cell can then repair itself though often with errors which is useful if you want to disrupt a gene," said Kiran Musunuru of HSCI.

    "Our reasoning was that nature has already done the experiment; you have people who have won the genetic lottery," said Musunuru. "They are protected from heart attack, and there are no known adverse consequences. So that led us to reason that if we could find a way to replicate this, we could significantly protect people from heart attack," the scientist added.

    "The PCSK9 gene is expressed primarily in the liver producing a protein that is active in the bloodstream and prevents the removal of cholesterol from the blood. Several drug companies have been developing antibodies to it but the problem with antibody-based drugs is they don't last forever; you'd need an injection every few weeks. The main option for reducing cholesterol is statin drugs such as Lipitor but many people taking statin drugs every day still have heart attacks. So there is still a great need for other approaches," Musunuru said.


  7. #1187
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Kidney patients top free treatment list

    Chronic kidney disease has emerged as the most common ailment for which people sought treatment under the Rajiv Gandhi Arogya Yojana (RGAY), the government-paid insurance for families earning less than Rs 1 lakh per annum. The RGAY scheme offers 900 free surgeries in hospitals across the state.

    Angioplasty for heart diseases is the second condition for which people had gone to hospitals approved by the RGAY across Maharashtra between 2012 and 2014, information released by the public health department has revealed. Over 2 lakh surgeries have been performed in the past two years in private and public hospitals with RGAY accreditation.

    The three other common procedures are chemotherapy for cancer patients, treatment of fractures and fitting of hearing aids. "We found that the number of dialysis sessions was high," said public health secretary Meeta Lochan.

    Five public hospitals in the city—Tata Memorial Hospital and KEM Hospital in Parel, JJ Hospital in Byculla, Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central and LTMG Hospital in Sion—have performed the maximum number of surgeries for RGAY. In the private sector, Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri has performed the largest number of operations for RGAY patients.


  8. #1188
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Hypoglycemia attacks in type 1 diabetes could be managed more effectively

    A study has found that effective management can reduce the number of emergency hypoglycemic events experienced by Type1 diabetics. Hypoglycemia is a condition where the glucose levels in blood fall dangerously, and can even lead to a fatal outcome in severe cases. A multi-centre study led by Newcastle University has found out that the vast majority of people with Type1 diabetes can regain their hypo warning signs and avoid traumatic experiences - even after many years of insulin therapy. The trial also involved expert diabetes teams at Cambridge and Sheffield Universities, as well as health psychologists from AHP Research and Deakin University (Australia).

    In the hypoCOMPaSS study, funded by Diabetes UK and published in the Diabetes Care journal, 96 adults with type 1 diabetes from across the country were asked to follow simple guidelines for adjusting their insulin doses to minimise low glucose levels and took part in a brief education session to provide them with a 'hypo compass'. This provided a framework for preventing progression of mild hypos into dangerous events through a range of practical strategies.

    Before the study, those who took part had been experiencing around 10 dangerous hypos every year. However, during the six-month trial period 80% of them experienced no further attacks. This study has confirmed the need for access to best possible guidance and structured support for everyone with type 1 diabetes to enable them to achieve good control without disabling hypoglycemia.

    James Shaw, who led the study as Professor of Diabetes at Newcastle University and a Consultant at Newcastle Diabetes Centre, said: "For years people with diabetes have been told not to let their blood glucose levels get too high and now we are telling them not to get too low, so it's a complicated message. But with just a little bit of support in best management, a safe and effective balance can be achieved in the vast majority.

    "These really exciting results were achieved without any worsening of overall glucose control.

    "In the trial we showed that equivalent benefits could be achieved using insulin injections or an insulin pump. Similarly regular finger prick testing including some night time checks was just as effective as real time continuous glucose monitoring through a sensor placed under the skin every few days. User satisfaction was particularly high with the pump, but was more variable among those using continuous glucose monitoring. Fear of hypos reduced significantly for everyone," he added.


  9. #1189
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    Cement used in hip surgery blamed for 41 deaths in UK

    Doctors in UK have sounded an alarm confirming cement being used in partial hip replacement surgery is causing death. The use of cement to hold artificial joints in place is common in the UK.

    In new evidence that could lead to a review of surgical procedures for hip operations, the use of cement was linked to at least 41 deaths in England and Wales since 2005.

    Researchers including England's former chief medical officer professor Liam Donaldson identified 62 cases of a rare reaction called bone cement implantation syndrome (BCIS) occurring between 2005 and 2012.

    This suggests that measures to reduce the risks are not being acted on widely enough, they say. They base their findings on an analysis of cases submitted between 2005 and 2012 to the National Reporting and Learning System — a database of patient safety incidents associated with the delivery of health care across the National Health Service in England and Wales.

    All the cases involved sudden and severe deterioration among patients undergoing partial hip replacement, known as hemiarthroplasty for fractured neck of femur (broken hip), and associated with the use of cement to help hold the artificial hip joint in place. This sudden deterioration is referred to as BCIS.


  10. #1190
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    Re: Health Bulletin

    People who say ‘Like’ a lot may be smarter

    When you meet someone who trips up their sentences with 'likes' and 'you knows' and 'I means' your might pre-judge them as unintelligent or someone who has difficulty expressing themselves, but in fact the opposite may be true.

    The filler word 'like' brings to mind airheaded characters like Cher from Clueless and sentences such as 'And now I, like, shop every day on Rodeo Drive,' but psychologists claim it is in fact an attempt to convey something in a more nuanced way and signals a conscientious person with complex thoughts to express.

    In an article in The Journal of Language and Social Psychology, the researchers explain: "The possible explanation for this association is that conscientious people are generally more thoughtful and aware of themselves and their surroundings.

    "When having conversations with listeners, conscientious people use discourse markers, such as 'I mean' and 'you know,' to imply their desire to share or rephrase opinions to recipients.

    "Thus it is expected that the use of discourse markers may be used to measure the degree to which people have thoughts to express."The research essentially posits that people who use a lot of "filler speech" are constantly redrafting as they speak and desire to transfer thought into speech in the most accurate way possible.

    "Discourse fillers are a sign of more considered speech, and so it makes sense that conscientious people use them more often," psychologist Christian Jarrett writes.

    The study goes on to say that such fillers could be a good way of sizing up the personality of someone when you first meet them, so you can determine whether they're like, worthy of your time and an interesting person, you know what I mean?


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