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What is Atrial Fibrillation?

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate. It increases the risk of a blood clot forming inside the heart. If the clot travels to the brain, it can lead to a stroke.

People with Atrial Fibrillation are 5 times more likely to suffer a stroke. Yet 66% of AFib strokes can be averted with treatment.

stats on atrial fibrillation

What causes Atrial Fibrillation?

With Atrial Fibrillation, the heart’s upper chambers will contract randomly and sometimes at high speed to the point where the heart muscle cannot relax properly between contractions.

Normally, the muscular walls will contract to force blood out and around the body, then relax so the heart can fill with blood again.

The cause of this is not fully known, but tends to affect people over the age of 65. It can be triggered by certain situations, such as drinking alcohol in excess, and smoking. There is no hard and fast rule however, as perfectly healthy people can succumb to Atrial Defibrillation.

Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation

    • Heart palpitations
    • Tiredness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Dizziness
    • Feeling faint

Treating Atrial Fibrillation

With appropriate treatment, the risk of a stroke can be substantially reduced.

it is possible to be treated by your GP,  and be given blood thinning medications to reduce the likelihood of blood clots. Anticoagulant medicines make the blood take longer to clot, making it a vital part of helping prevent strokes.

In more extreme cases, you may be referred to a Cardiologist, or more specifically, a cardiac Electrophysiologist. They will focus on your heart’s timing, electrical system, or diagnosing and treating irregular heartbeats or arrhythmias.

Prevention of Atrial Fibrillation

As is fairly standard, the main way to prevent Atrial Fibrillation is by maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle. This includes exercising, avoiding excessive drinking, not smoking, and eating a healthy diet.

If you have concerns about your heart rate and blood pressure, visit your GP. They may recommend purchasing a blood pressure monitor to keep an eye on certain levels. Make an appointment with your GP if you notice a sudden change in your heartbeat or your heart rate is consistently lower than 60 or above 100.

A&D AFib+ Technology in Blood Pressure Monitors

The TM-2441 and TM-2440 are both compact & lightweight Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitors, which incorporate A&D’s latest technology. This ABPM range is validated in accordance with the new ISO810601-2 protocol, and the blood pressure accuracy is proven to be +/-3mmHg.

The new, unique Afib+ technology allows patient screening for both Irregular HeartBeat and Atrial Fibrillation (AFib).

A&D AFib technology

The A&D UA-767S-W and UA-767S sets the standard for personal use. It benefits from 2nd generation IHB technology, which now measures the frequency of IHB (Irregular Heart Beat) detection – shown by icons and divided into different grades. This now enables the user/clinician to see how often IHB has been detected – indicating the level of risk to the patient.

Click the image below to take a closer look at the products.new a&d afib products

Wear it Pink – For A Future Where Everyone With Breast Cancer Lives

Breast Cancer Now’s ‘Wear it Pink’ day, on October 19th, is one of the biggest fundraising events in the UK.  This year, Medisave is proud to be supporting the event and will be raising money for the cause.

About “Wear it Pink”

Since 2002, Breast Cancer Now’s ‘Wear it Pink’ fundraising event has raised over £31.5 million for  life-saving research. Research that is constantly working to discover how to prevent breast cancer, detect it earlier and how to treat it effectively at every stage, to prevent the disease taking lives.

The idea (of course) is to wear pink on October 19th with your colleagues, friends and/or family to help raise money for the charity. Putting together fun activities such as a quiz, raffle, or clothing sale, will get more people as possible involved and bolster the money raised.

3 ladies dressed in pink holding cupcakes
Credit: https://www.wearitpink.org/

Fundraising Ideas

  • Pink-themed quiz – ‘Wear it Pink’ has very nicely put together a quiz question PDF which you can download from HERE. Ideal to play with your work colleagues, it includes picture rounds and anagram challenges.
  • Pink treat cake sale – cupcakes are a must for a cake sale and you can go mad with the pink decoration! Ask you friends, family and work colleagues to get baking and hold a stall or bring them all into work to raise some money. Try thinking outside the box with what you bake to get people even more tempted to donate their money.

pink cupcakes decorated with hearts

  • A raffle – Would your company donate a few ‘grand prizes’ to make the tickets even more tempting? How does and extra day’s holiday sound? At the very least you can ask your colleagues to donate something worthwhile. A bottle of wine counts right?!
  • School sports day – Ask the children to participate in a sports day event while wearing pink and let them have fun! The parent can be charged an ‘entry fee’ for donation, and there is always the possibility of having stalls on site with cakes and toys to purchase, with all proceeds going to the charity.
  • Dare to do more – Choose a challenge that you aim to complete and ask for sponsors! How far would you go to save lives?
woman holding "will abseil for cash" sign
Credit: https://www.wearitpink.org/

Signs & Symptoms of Breast Cancer

Some of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer include:

  • A change in size or shape
  • A lump or area that feels thicker than the rest of the breast
  • A change in skin texture such as puckering or dimpling (like the skin of an orange)
  • Redness or rash on the skin and/or around the nipple
  • Your nipple has become pulled in or looks different, for example changed its position or shape
  • Liquid that comes from the nipple without squeezing
  • Pain in your breast or your armpit that’s there all or almost all of the time
  • A swelling in your armpit or around your collarbone

Remember to check your breasts regularly!

Take a look at this illustrated guide from Breast Cancer Care, or alternatively, the video below from Breast Cancer Now. You can also download the free Breast Check Now app for Android and iOS.

Illustrated guide on how to check your breasts for breast cancer
Credit: https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk

 

Fundraising at Medisave

At Medisave we’re going to be doing all kinds of activities to raise money throughout the month. We have quizzes, cake sales and a pink fancy dress day planned. We have also set up a separate page for our ‘pink’ October deals with discounted products; with the idea being you could donate the difference to ‘Wear it Pink’.

If you would like to donate to Breast Cancer Now’s ‘Wear it Pink’ you can do so HERE.

 

Join The Missing Millions – World Hepatitis Day 2018

world hepatitis day logo

World Hepatitis Day (WHD) takes places every year on 28th July bringing the world together under a single theme to raise awareness of the global burden of viral hepatitis and to influence real change.

Worldwide, 325 million people are living with viral hepatitis unaware. Without finding the undiagnosed and linking them to care,  millions will continue to suffer, and lives will be lost. On World Hepatitis Day, 28th July, we call on people from across the world to take action, raise awareness and join in the quest to find the “missing millions”.

You can join the quest to find the missing millions on their website here: http://www.worldhepatitisalliance.org/

find the missing millions logo

What is Hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the liver, commonly caused by a viral infection, or also from consuming excessive amounts of alcohol over several years.

hepatitis infected liver

Out of the 325 million people with viral hepatitis globally, upward of 290 million (9 in 10 people!) are living with hepatitis B or hepatitis C without knowing. A cure for hepatitis C is available, as well as treatment and a vaccine for hepatitis B.

Symptoms of Hepatitis

Short-term hepatitis often has no noticeable symptoms, so it may be difficult to know whether you have it.

In the later stages it can cause jaundice, swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, confusion, and blood in your stools or vomit.

We’d recommend seeing your GP if you have any of these symptoms persistently.

Types of Hepatitis

Hepatitis A is caused by the hepatitis A virus. It’s most commonly contracted by consuming food or water contaminated by feces from a person infection with hepatitis A.

Hepatitis B is common infection worldwide and is usually spread from infected pregnant women to their babies. In rare cases it can be transmitted by infectious body fluids, such as blood, unprotected sex and injecting drugs. It’s uncommon in the UK.

Hepatitis C is the most common type of viral hepatitis in the UK. Again it can be transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, usually by shared needles.

Hepatitis D only affects people who are already infected with hepatitis B, as it needs it to survive. Long-term infection with hepatitis D and hepatitis B can increase your risk of developing serious problems, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Hepatitis E is mainly associated with the consumption of raw or under cooked pork meat or offal, but also with the wild boar meat, venison and shellfish.

It’s generally a mild and short-term infection that doesn’t require any treatment, but it can be serious in some people, such as those who have a weakened immune system.

Alcoholic hepatitis is caused by excessive alcohol consumption over many years. This type is common in the UK with many people not realising they have it due to the lack of any symptoms.

Stopping drinking will usually allow you to recover, but if you continue to drink alcohol there’s a risk that you can develop cirrhosis, liver failure or liver cancer.

Autoimmune hepatitis is a rare cause of long-term hepatitis in which the immune system attacks and damages the liver. It’s not clear what causes this type of hepatitis.

Treatment for autoimmune hepatitis involves medicines that suppress the immune system and reduces inflammation.

Remember you can join the quest to find the missing millions here or you can use the page to learn more about one of the biggest global health threats of our time. Remember, together we can eliminate viral hepatitis.

Sources: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hepatitis/ 

Reduce Preventable Infections from Spirometry Testing

vitalograph bacterial filters infographic

Vitalograph’s Bacterial Viral Filters Could Save Practices Thousands

Between early October to mid-January, figures from the Guardian say, 120 people died of flu-related symptoms in the UK, nearly three times as many as the previous year. With up to 30,000 people visiting a GP each week with influenze-like symptoms, the chance of infection spreading during spirometry tests is much higher.

Using one-way valve cardboard mouthpieces during spirometry testing provides very little protection from bacteria and viruses passing straight through the spirometer, potentially infecting the member of staff administering the test. This lack of protection can lead to cross infection between patients, lost work from staff illness and increased treatment costs later on from infected patients.

The Solution: Vitalograph’s Bacterial Viral Filters

According to Dr Derek Cramer and Simon Ward, of the Royal Brompton Hospital, using a BVF is common practice in lung function testing in secondary care, however, it is far less common in primary care. By assuming any patient taking a lung function test is infectious and using a BVF for all patients, GP surgeries could dramatically improve their rates of cross infection and protect their equipment, staff and patients.

99.999% Cross-Contamination Efficiency

By reducing the contamination risk during testing, GP surgeries could save thousands of pounds in lost staff hours and the further treatment of patients.

How Do Bacterial/Viral Filters Work?

Vitalograph’s BVFs use an electrostatically charged material to trap bacteria and viruses (including TB, MRSA & influenza) with a validated cross-contamination efficiency of 99.999%. This doesn’t affect air-flow at all, meaning you will see the same results as with cardboard mouthpieces but with reduced risk to the patient and clinician administering the test.

On top of the hygiene benefits of using BVFs, they can also reduce the time spent cleaning and sterilising test equipment, which means more patients can be seen in a shorter time.

Conclusion

Introducing BVFs into your practice is not just a cost-effective solution to infection control, it also protects your staff and could end up saving a lot of money, both directly and indirectly.

To order a BVF pack or any other Vitalograph product, head to our store.

Asbestos Awareness Saves Lives, Two Lungs at a Time

As November kicks off Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a chance for all of us to take a deep breath, and reflect on lung health. As health professionals, we see the impact of environmental and industrial pollution, and its negative effect on global air quality and lung health. Therefore, as advocates of health, it’s important to focus on preventative measures, by raising awareness and preventing hazardous exposure to common airborne contaminants.

One surprisingly prevalent carcinogen that demands global attention is a mineral that’s been used for decades in the construction and manufacturing industries: asbestos.

What is Asbestos?

Continue reading Asbestos Awareness Saves Lives, Two Lungs at a Time

10 Top Medical Apps for Patients

someone tapping app on phone

Following on from our previous blog: 10 Top Apps for Healthcare Professionals,  we set our attention to the patients themselves.

While these medical apps shouldn’t replace a routine trip to the Doctor, they may just make your life a little easier.

1. Diabetes:M

DiabetesM Medical App Icon Keeping track of diabetes is essential to keeping it under control and Diabetes:M helps perfectly by being the logbook app you need.

The app includes a vast nutrition database so you can keep track of food and nutrition as well as exercise time. With detailed reports, charts and statistics provided on almost all aspects of the diabetes treatment, Diabetes:M could well be a valuable addition if you need help keeping it under control.

iOS/Android/Free to download – premium versions available

Features:

  • Calculate normal and prolonged insulin boluses using the highly effective, top-notch bolus calculator
  • Send the reports to your supervising physician via email
  • Additional lab result records – Add a comprehensive metabolic panel, kidney function tests and much more
  • Expanded Food Database – This will allow greater access to server food database, as well as an option to save selected food as Meals and Dishes
  • Synchronization – Automatically sync multiple devices on data change. Allows you to use any of your available mobile devices to keep track effortlessly.
  • Reports – Get your reports in PDF or XLS format

 

 

2. St John Ambulance First Aid

St John First Aid Medical App IconThe first aid app from the extremely reputable St John Ambulance is a simple but potentially life saving one. It’s basic, simple and doesn’t necessarily replace the benefits of learning first hand first hand, but what it does,  it does right. When there is an emergency the app will help you know what to do in those crucial moments when basic knowledge is needed.

iOS/Android/Free

Features:

  • Latest first aid advice and protocols for dealing with emergency situations
  • Simple to follow with illustrated guides and voiced instructions
  • Teaches common techniques such as using an AED, the recovery position, and treating shock
  • Covers both major and minor subjects in an easy to find category layout system. Major subjects include burns, choking, poisoning and strokes, while minor subjects include allergic reactions and feeling faint

St John Ambulance First Aid App Screenshot

3. iTriage

iTriage medical app icon

iTriage is a huge healthcare and medical database where you can search for answers to do with medication, diseases, symptoms and procedures.  It was created by two ER doctors and the medical content is reviewed by Harvard Medical School to prove its authenticity and how safe it is.

Over 12 million people have downloaded iTriage giving it a 4.5 star rating from over 100k reviews proving that it is a well known and loved app that can perhaps put your mind at ease or potentially save your life. It may sound dramatic but with critical warnings included with some causes depending on the issue, it could well be the motivation you need to get you to the doctor.

iOS/Android/Free

Features:

  • You can search symptoms, learn about potential causes, and then iTriage will help you find the most appropriate treatment, facility or doctor
  • iTriage Doctor Search lets you find any doctor or physician quickly and easily
  • Thousands of medical symptoms, diseases, conditions, procedures, medications and drugs
  • Find the nearest hospital, emergency room, urgent care, retail clinic, pharmacy, physician, doctor, imaging center, mental health clinic, substance abuse clinic, and community health center
  • Save your personal healthcare facilities, doctors, diseases, conditions, procedures, medications, insurance information and health plan advice lines
  • Emergency hotlines, and physician and nurse advice lines

 

 

4. Instant Heart Rate: Heart Rate & Pulse Monitor

Instant Heart Rate Medical App IconContinuously rated as the world’s best mobile heart rate measurement app, Instant Heart Rate can measure your heart rate by using the camera on your phone.

It works by detecting a colour change in your finger top each time your heart beats, using an advanced algorithm to show your heart rate. Judging by the reviews and Apple’s usability of the app in its “Strength” TV ad, Instant Heart Rate produces accurate results – especially coming from a smartphone.

iOS/Android/Free/£4.99 – ‘ad free’/Premium models

Features:

  • Heart rate measurement
  • Heart Rate Activity Zone Calculator
  • Pulse waveform graphs
  • Real-time photoplethysmogram (PPG) graph
  • Continuous or Auto-Stop mode
  • Unlimited data storage and tags
  • Export data for registered users
  • StandUp test for fatigue and fitness testing
  • Apple Health App Support

Instant Heart rate Medical App icon

5. BabyBump Pregnancy Pro

babybump medical app iconBabyBump is one of the many popular pregnancy apps out there but we’ve chosen this on in particular due to it’s ease of use, many features, and it’s reviews.

BabyBump keeps soon-to-be parents informed about each stage of the pregnancy, making for an even more in-depth experience that you can track and share with family and friends. The forums and community are a great inclusion to help you get prepared for the big day and years to come.

iOS/Android/Free

Features:

  • Pregnancy forums
  • Countdown
  • Daily info/images – schematic embryo picture of your baby each week
  • Journal/weight tracking
  • Graphical charts
  • Contraction tracker
  • Kicks counter
  • Create a slideshow of belly photos

Babybump Medical app image

6. CareZone | Health Info Organiser

CareZone Medical App Icon

If you and/or family members need medications, it can be hard remembering names, dosages and days that they need to be taken, especially if you’re looking after an aging parent. This is where CareZone comes in.

With CareZone you can stay organised, coordinated, and in sync by always having medication details and schedules on hand, and helpfully gives you notifications when it’s time to take a med, refill a subscription or record a taken dose. Being able to create a detailed med list by taking photos is another great and time saving idea – making this app the full package.

iOS/Android/Free

Features:

  • Journal: document symptoms and privately share updates with family members
  • Calendar: keep track of appointments and share access with others
  • Contacts: organise & share info for doctors, pharmacies, and insurance providers
  • Notes: store insurance info, online account credentials, and other hard-to-remember details
  • To-do lists
  • Store important files and documents
  • News: receive helpful info & tips on health topics relevant to you and your family

Carezone medical app image

7. Migraine Buddy

Migraine Buddy Medical App Icon

Hopefully you don’t suffer with migraines, but if you do, it needs be dealt with in the quickest and easiest way. Ideally the migraine would be prevented in the first place.

Migraine Buddy is an advanced migraine headache and tracking app that helps users record and identify triggers, symptoms, frequency, duration, intensity and location etc, so users can prevent and take the appropriate action if one does occur. This is an app that has thought of everything to help you get easy to read reports but make sure you fill in all the fields needed when you’re completely free of a migraine, because it might just give you one.

iOS/Android/Free

Features:

  • Easy to use, beautifully designed interface and icons with wizard style questionnaires that guides users through the recording process
  • Record ongoing and past migraines
  • Quick tapping motion to answer the questionnaire
  • Quick access to skip and record entries at a later time
  • Add a “Buddy”: Share your migraine status with your “buddies” within the app. Let each other know when you’re migraine-free, having a migraine, and how you feel.
  • Notes section to add additional information such as food, weather conditions, barometric pressure, mood, etc.
  • Add custom fields to the questionnaire so it becomes a permanent option for users
  • Customized reports including frequency and duration, pain intensity, pain location, migraine triggers, migraine medications, migraine symptoms and helps to understand the effectiveness of medication and other migraine relief methods
  • Data is secured and protected by HIPAA-compliant cloud

Migraine Buddy medical app icon

8. Calm: Meditation to Relax, Focus & Sleep Better

calm medical meditation app icon

High stress levels? Perhaps meditation is the way forward – even on a (usually) distracting smartphone.

Once you have download the app for free, you get a 7 day course of guided-meditation exercises, with more programs and features becoming available after buying a reasonably priced subscription. If you feel like you need to take a step back away for 10 minutes a day from an increasingly busy and stressful world, or if you need to work on topics such as calming anxiety, happiness, or non-judgment, then Calm is the app for you.

iOS/Android/Free/In-app subscriptions

Features:

  • Daily Calm: a new 10-minute program added daily to help ease you into the day or unwind with before bed
  • Guided meditation sessions including hundreds of programs
  • 20+ Sleep Stories: adult bedtime stories guaranteed to lull you to sleep
  • 7 day and 21 programs for both beginner and advanced users
  • Breathing exercises to relax
  • Unguided timed meditation
  • Open-ended meditation
  • 25+ soothing nature sounds and scenes to use during meditation, yoga or to help you sleep
  • Track your progress with daily streaks and time spent meditating

9. Bowelle – The IBS tracker 

Bowelle medical app icon

Bowelle is for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome or other gastrointestinal symptoms and is a simple to use app that keeps a record of how you feel, bowel movements, and other elements.

The app was made in hope that it helps identify some of the triggers causing your symptoms – and with such a clear and easy to use app that is completely clear of ads, it could certainly be a useful tracker.

iOS/Free

Features:

  • Records how you feel, food &  water intake, stress levels, bowel movements
  • Charts
  • Daily average
  • Overview
  • Works with Apple Health

10. My Pain Diary & Symptom Tracker: Gold Edition

Pain Diary medical app icon

My Pain Diary does exactly what it says on the tin.  With the app you are able to record pain and symptoms you get, to report to and improve communication with doctors.

An incredibly useful app for a chronic pain sufferer, this highly customisable and well thought out app  can create PDF reports to send to your doctor or archive, so you both have a better idea on how to help yourself.

iOS/£4.99

Features:

  • iCloud Sync support
  • Universal app
  • Highly customizable
  • Easy to use
  • Track unlimited conditions
  • Track multiple/unlimited times per day
  • Add past entries (change entry timestamp)
  • Edit past entries
  • Medication tracking
  • Reports
  • Note important events

 

 

Could There be a Cure for Diabetes?

Diabetes is a serious condition that requires careful monitoring and management. It costs the NHS an estimated £14 billion pounds a year to treat. Medical scientists have been studying diabetes for many years and looking for a cure or long term treatment.

Exciting research studies and clinical trials in the last 5 years give hope of cures, or at least greatly reduced symptoms for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

A Possible Diabetes Vaccine

Diabetes is an immune system disorder. The pancreas creates insulin, a hormone that regulates the level of glucose in your blood. With Type 1 diabetics, the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells (islets cells) and stops the production of insulin in the pancreas. This means they are unable to regulate their own glucose levels.

Many companies are working to develop vaccine for diabetes
Many companies are working to develop a vaccine for diabetes. Dawn Huczek | Flickr

Many companies are working to find a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes. The theory is that a vaccine with immunosuppressant drugs could prevent the immune system from attacking the islet cells so the patient could produce insulin.

The problem with this, however, is that by suppressing the immune system you are then making the patient vulnerable to other infections and illness. There can also be a variety of unwanted side effects, such as stomach upsets, kidney problems and reduced production of blood cells.

Scientists are currently experimenting to see if they can target specific parts of the immune system rather than the system as a whole. If this is successful it could also offer hope of a cure for other autoimmune disorders.

Targeting the Destructive Cells

Diabetes UK is funding many diabetes research projects. Dr Michael Christie from the University of Lincoln is studying the immune cells  that are thought to be responsible for attacking the islet cells, which produce insulin. This research is still at an early stage.

Dr Christie will be targeting the immune cells which attack the insulin producing cells, causing diabetes to occur.
Dr Christie will be targeting the immune cells which attack the insulin producing cells, causing diabetes to occur.viZZZual.com | Flickr

Dr Christie hopes to develop a therapy that can specifically target these damaging cells and leave the rest of the immune system to work as normal. He is looking to combine a protein found on islet cells with a with antibody protein, which marks the cells to be destroyed. The hope is that this new molecule will attract the destructive cells, which will bind with it and then also be destroyed.

Another project funded by Diabetes UK is the study by Lucy Walker at University College London, she has found immune cells (T-Cells) that can trigger the immune system attack on diabetes cells. They are looking at early autoimmune responses to find how these cells cause diabetes and if they can stop the condition from occurring.

The BCG Vaccine

There are many other ongoing diabetes studies, including research by Dr Faustman. She is also looking at the T cells that trigger the autoimmune response that causes diabetes. She is excited by clinical trials with the Bacillius Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccine.

Dr Faustman’s team found that the BCG vaccine was killing high levels of T Cells in Type 1 diabetic participants. This shows not only that the vaccine can destroy these cells but that people with Type 1 diabetes have a higher than normal level of T cells.

Further trial phases hope to find if the BCG vaccine can effectively work as a long term affordable treatment for Type 1 diabetes.

The Artificial Pancreas

Dr Roman Horvorka has created a prototype artificial pancreas. This uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to check glucose levels every minute. The machine will then calculate the insulin dose required; and automatically administer it.

The Artificial Pancreas
The Artificial Pancreas. Image from www.diabetes.org.uk

The artificial pancreas is worn like a diabetes pump. It sits under the skin and uses wireless transmission to transfer the blood sugar levels to the monitor. The great news is that this can work 24 hours a day, so it offers the potential to maintain good glucose levels throughout the night as well as all day.

Dr Harkorva’s team completed a clinical trial with the artificial pancreas being worn 24 hours a day by participants with Type 1 diabetes. The results showed that the artificial pancreas was halving the amount of time for which participants had low sugar levels. As everything is done automatically the chance of incorrect dosing is greatly reduced.

This research is still in early testing stages, however, it offers hope of an easier way to monitor and administer insulin. This could be the ideal option for people who struggle to calculate their require insulin dose.

Islet Cell Transplants

In Type 1 diabetes, the insulin producing islet cells have been destroyed by the immune system. The Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine has been studying these cells and possible ways for patients with Type 1 diabetes to reproduce insulin. They recently completed an islet cell transplant for diabetic Wendy Peacock.

Wendy was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 17, she is now 43. Since receiving the minimally invasive surgery she has not needed insulin injections. Other trial participants have not required any treatment for diabetes for more than a decade.

Islet Cells in the Panceas
Islet Cells in the Pancreas. Image from www.niddk.nih.gov

The current islet cell transplant procedure is to infuse the cells into the liver. Although this has had some success, the islet cells don’t always survive in the liver. DRI are currently working to develop their ‘BioHub’. This is a bio-engineered mini-organ that will mimic the pancreas and create insulin. This will be a significant development in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes.

Could Tea be a treatment for Type 2 Diabetes?

Dr Michelle Keske, a senior research fellow at the Menzies Institute in Tasmania has found a surprising potential treatment for Type 2 diabetes – blueberry tea. Their 2015 research trials show blueberry tea may reduce the dependence on insulin as it improves glucose intake in muscles and reduces blood glucose levels.

Other studies, such as those by the Journal of Nutrition have shown berries to be beneficial for diabetes as they have a chemical called anthocyanin that reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol and increases ‘good’ cholesterol. This chemical also reduces insulin resistance and decreases fasting plasma glucose levels.

The Menzies Institute in Tasmania have discovered that blueberry tea can help to reduce glucose levels.
The Menzies Institute in Tasmania have discovered that blueberry tea can help to reduce glucose levels.Health Gauge | Flickr

Cinnamon has also been proven beneficial in reducing blood glucose levels, lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol and increasing sensitivity to insulin so our body is more responsive to it. Other ingredients such as spearmint leaves and raspberry leaf are also suggested to have helpful properties for managing diabetes. This ingredient combination may enhance the effects of berry chemicals, however, research has not yet confirmed this.

The Menzies Institute have conducted pre-clinical trials testing regular intake of herbal blueberry tea and its effects on glucose levels. Gerard Spicer, a participant in one of these trials, found that introducing blueberry tea to his diet greatly reduced his glucose readings.

“Since [drinking the tea] I’ve been waking up with a more normal reading… very rarely high” – Gerard Spicer, trial participant

The tea includes raspberry leaf, spearmint and cinnamon as well as blueberry. Senior Research Fellow Michelle Keske has been studying the tea and its effects on diabetes, with the possible suggestion that it could reduce the need for insulin.

“The tea has enabled that hormone, insulin, to improve glucose uptake into muscle and by doing that it lowers blood glucose levels and it does that by stimulating blood flow”
Michelle Keske, Senior Research Fellow, Menzies Institute

Keske believes the polyphenols and flavonoids in blueberries may be the vital ingredient in the tea. Currently, it is unknown if it is the blueberry alone that stimulates blood flow or if it is a combination of ingredients.  Arguably, you could say it may be more beneficial to eat blueberries themselves as these would contain higher levels of polyphenols and flavonoids.

Green Tea to Increase Insulin Sensitivity

Diabetics will have a greater risk of developing heart disease. Suzanne Steinbaum is a Cardiologist and the Director of Women’s Heart Health at Lennox Hill Hospital. She has found that green tea is very beneficial for Type 2 diabetes and may help to lower your risk of heart disease.

Steinbaum has been researching Japanese studies and notes that people who drank 6 or more cups of green tea a day were 33% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than people who drank less than 1 cup of green tea a week.

studies show people who drink 6 or more cups of green tea are 33% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than people drinking less than 1 cup a week.
Studies show people who drink 6 or more cups of green tea are 33% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than people drinking less than 1 cup a week. Dano | Flickr

Tea contains Polyphenols, these are natural antioxidants found in plants. As green tea contains higher levels of polyphenols than black tea this is better for diabetics. Polyphenols help reduce glucose and makes them ideal for preventing and controlling diabetes. Polyphenols are also great for anyone at risk of heart problems as they widen arteries, this reduces blood pressure, helps to prevent clotting and lower cholesterol.

Dr Stenibaum explains it is the Polyphenols that give the bright colours in fruit and vegetables. Unfermented leaves will contain higher levels of polyphenals and therefore green tea has a higher antioxident level than black tea.

Dr Steinbaum’s research supports the results of studies by the Menzies Institute which found blueberry tea to greatly reduce glucose levels. The brightly coloured berries contain a high level of polyphenols, so knowing these help reduce glucose, it is not surprising to find that blueberry tea lowers sugar levels.

A Potential Drug to Prevent Diabetes

The Menzies Institute have also been looking closely at the causes for Type 2 diabetes, in the hope of preventing the condition before it develops. The have discovered that insulin has a significant stimulatory effect on the flow of blood within our muscles. This also led to the discovery that increasing muscle blood flow will improve the access to insulin and the flow of glucose to the muscle cells.

With this new information, they are looking at how blood flow effects insulin up-take, and how this relationship can be used to improve insulin intake. Dr Stephen Richards is one of the researchers leading this study, along with Dr Keske and professor Stephen Rattigan. He gives hope that new drugs to stop Type 2 diabetes may be close to development:

“We are now actively investigating how insulin causes this blood flow effect, with a view to finding ways of enhancing it. As a result new drugs that reverse the impairment in insulin resistant states and prevent the onset of diabetes may soon be discovered.” – Dr. Stephen Richards, Lead Researcher, Menzies Institute

Conclusion

Looking at the results from recent diabetes studies, we can be confident that more efficient and manageable ways to administer insulin are under development.  There is hope that we could have a cure for diabetes in the next decade or two.

For Type 2  diabetes we can look at not just sugar intake but also consider foods that may help to reduce sugar levels, such as herbal teas and brightly coloured berries.

We will keep our fingers crossed and hope for another medical breakthrough!

Please be advised that there are many on-going and completed diabetic studies and clinical trials. While we have picked some of these to discuss we are not disregarding other diabetes studies, this is a sample of the studies we located during our research. We hope it will keep you positive with the outlook of finding a long term cure for diabetes.

References

Blueberry Herbal Tea Could Treat Type 2 Diabetes

Blueberry tea attracts attention of medical researchers for its potential as diabetes treatment

Blueberry Tea & Diabetes Treatment

Benefits of Drinking Green Tea for Diabetics

How Much Does Diabetes Cost the NHS

Diabetes.org.uk

Kidshealth Type 2 Diabetes

The Benefits of Green Tea for Diabetics

Towards a Game-Changing Type 1 Diabetes Vaccine

Pancreatic Islet Transplantation

Blueberry Herba Tea Could Treat Type 2 Diabetes

Vaccine Against Type 1 Diabetes Shows Promise

Littmann Cardiology III Spare Parts – The Essential Guide

littmann cardiology iii spare parts

Late in 2015, 3M released their spares range in a handy new kit format. Combining diaphragms, rims and ear tips in one pack. The Littmann Cardiology III Spare Parts Kit is a cost-effective and convenient way of replacing worn-out stethoscope parts.

To learn how to safely swap to your Littmann Cardiology III spare parts, read our guide and watch our video below.

Contents:

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Littmann Classic II Spare Parts – The Essential Guide

Littmann Classic II spare parts - the essential guide
In November 2015, 3M brought out their Littmann Spare Parts Kit range for stethoscopes. Since then, we have been asked many times whether it is safe to change diaphragms, rims and earpieces yourself. The answer is a definite yes. To learn how to safely swap to your Littmann Classic II SE spare parts, read this guide and watch our video below.

Contents:

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How to Write a Medical CV

Your CV is possibly the most important piece of paper in your medical career. Your medical CV can open doors to job interviews, create a positive impression with people you’ve never met, or kill your career hopes dead.

The principles of an excellent CV are the same whether you’re a nurse, a doctor, a paramedic or in any other healthcare role. It needs to be clear, concise, highly relevant to the role you’re applying for, and accurate. Continue reading How to Write a Medical CV