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How to Deal with Asthma?

asthmaAsthma is really a long-term ailment that has simply no cure. The particular goal associated with asthma therapy is to manage the condition. Right there are the most of asthma symptoms and treatment:
·Prevent chronic plus troublesome signs and symptoms, for example breathing problems and shortness of breathing
·Reduce your own requirement for quick-relief medicines
·Help you preserve good lung perform
·Let you preserve your regular activity degree and rest through the particular night
·Prevent asthma episodes that can lead to a good emergency area visit or even hospital remain
To handle asthma, companion with your physician to control your asthma or your own child's asthma. Children old 10 or even older-and younger kids who are usually able-should consider an energetic function within their asthma care.
Using an energetic function to manage your own asthma requires:
·Working along with your physician to deal with other circumstances that may intervene with asthma management.
·Avoiding things that will worsen your own asthma (asthma triggers). Nevertheless, one cause you must not prevent is actual physical activity. Physical exercise is an essential portion of the healthy life-style. Talk along with your physician regarding medicines that will can assist you keep active.
·Working along with your physician as well as other wellness care suppliers to generate and stick to an asthma plan of action.
A good asthma motion plan offers guidance in obtaining your drugs properly, staying away from asthma sets off (except actual physical activity), monitoring your height of asthma control, reacting to deteriorating symptoms, plus seeking crisis care as needed.
Asthma is usually treated along with two varieties of medications: long-term handle and quick-relief medicines. Long lasting control medications help decrease airway irritation and stop asthma symptoms. Quick-relief, or "rescue, " medications relieve asthma symptoms that will may surface.
Your preliminary treatment is determined by the intensity of your own asthma. Followup asthma treatment is determined by just how well your own asthma activity plan is usually controlling your own symptoms plus preventing asthma attacks.
Your height of asthma handle can differ as time passes plus with adjustments in your own home, college, or function environments. These types of changes can modify how usually you're subjected to the elements that may worsen your own asthma.
Your own doctor might need to increase your own medicine when your asthma doesn't remain under manage. However, when your asthma is properly controlled for a number of months, your physician may reduce your medicine. These types of adjustments for your medicine can help you maintain the particular best manage possible along with the minimum amount associated with medicine essential.
Asthma therapy for many groupings of people-such as kids, pregnant females, or individuals for who exercise provides on asthma symptoms-will end up being adjusted in order to meet their particular special requirements.
Follow a good Asthma Plan of action
You may work together with your own doctor to produce a personal asthma action program. The master plan may describe your own daily remedies, such like which medications to consider plus when to consider them. The master plan also can explain whenever to contact your physician or even navigate to the crisis room.
In case your child provides asthma, all the people who else take care of your pet or the girl ought to know regarding the kid's asthma plan of action. This contains babysitters plus workers from daycare facilities, schools, plus camps. These types of caretakers may help your kid follow their action program.
Avoid Items That Can easily Worsen Your own Asthma
Several common items (called asthma triggers) may set away from or aggravate your asthma symptoms. As soon as you understand what these types of things are usually, you may take procedure for control most of them.
For illustration, contact with pollens or atmosphere pollution will make your asthma worse. If you are, try in order to limit time period outdoors whenever the degrees of these elements in the particular outdoor air flow are higher. If pet fur sets off your asthma symptoms, maintain pets along with fur out there of your own home or even bedroom.
A single possible asthma trigger a person shouldn’t prevent is physical exercise. Physical exercise is an important component of a proper lifestyle. Talk to your physician about medications which will help a person stay energetic.
In case your asthma symptoms are usually clearly associated to contaminants in the air, and a person can't prevent contact with individuals allergens, your own doctor might advise a person to obtain allergic reaction shots.
A person may require to visit a specialist in case you are thinking regarding getting allergic reaction shots. These types of shots may lessen or even stop your asthma symptoms, yet they aren't cure your own asthma.
Many health circumstances could make asthma harder in order to manage. These types of conditions consist of runny nasal area, sinus bacterial infections, reflux condition, psychological tension, and stop snoring. Your physician will deal with these circumstances too.
Medications
Your physician may consider several things whenever deciding which usually asthma drugs are very best to suit your needs. He or she or the lady will verify to notice how properly a medication works. After that, she or he may adjust the particular dose or even medicine since needed.
Asthma medicines may be consumed pill type, but many are used utilizing a device called a good inhaler. A good inhaler enables the drugs to look straight to your own lungs.
Not every inhalers are utilized the exact same way. Request your physician or even another physician to present the correct method to make use of your inhaler. Review how you use your own inhaler from every healthcare visit.
Long lasting Control Medications
Most individuals who may have asthma require long lasting control medications daily in order to help avoid symptoms. The very best long-term drugs reduce respiratory tract inflammation, which usually helps avoid symptoms through starting. These types of medicines may provide you with fast respite from signs and symptoms.

Institute for Health Technology Transformation Announces Health IT Summit in Denver July 24-25

The iHT2 Health IT Summit in Denver, will bring together C-level, physician, practice management, and IT decision-makers from North America’s leading provider organizations and physician practices. For two full days, executives interact with a national audience of peers, national leaders and solutions providers featuring the latest solutions for practice management, mobility, telemedicine, outsourcing, IT infrastructure, next-generation electronic medical records, disease management, and more.

The Summit will feature keynote presentations from Peter Fine, FACHE, President & CEO, Banner Health, and Bernard Harris, Jr., MD, MBA, President & CEO, Vesalius Ventures, and President, American Telemedicine Association.

Featured Speakers include: Dana Moore, SVP & CIO, Centura Health; Gregory Veltri, CIO, Denver Health; Russell Leftwich, MD, CMIO, Tennessee Office of eHealth Initiatives; Neal Ganguly, VP & CIO, CentraState Healthcare System; Andrew Steele, MD, MPH, Director, Medical Informatics, Denver Health; Jonathan Gold, MD, MHA, MSc, Regional CMIO, Catholic Health Initiatives; Charles Doarn, MBA, Research Professor and Director, Telemedicine & e-Health Program, University of Cincinnati; Mark Caron, SVP & CIO, Capital BlueCross, and many more.

Panel Discussions for the Health IT Summit in Denver include: Accountable Care Organizations: Taking on Risk & Identifying Critical Tools, Leveraging Data to Improve Outcomes & Safety, Preparing for 2013: Organizational Strategies for the Transition to ICD-10, Breach Avoidance: Strategies to Protect Patient Data, HIE Performance: Defining Your Objectives & Measuring Progress, Meaningful Use Stage 2: Reaching the Next Stages of Quality & Care, and Mobile Health: Leveraging Data at the Point of Care.

The full agenda can be viewed by visiting: http://ihealthtran.com/2012denveragenda.html

Sponsors and Partners include: ICA, Quantix, Extract Systems, SLI Global Solutions, Nuance, Comcast, Altus, Rubbermaid Healthcare, VMware, Healthcare IT News, CMIO, FierceHealthIT, ADVANCE, NASCIO, AMDIS, eHealth SmartBrief, Frost & Sullivan, IDC Health Insights, Mobile Healthcare Today, SearchHealthIT.com, and more.

Institute for Health Technology Transformation Appoints New Health IT Leaders to Advisory Board

The Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT²) announced ten new members to their Advisory Board this week. These members represent some of the brightest minds in healthcare information technology, and they will work to provide thought leadership and valuable industry connections to expand and improve the quality of the Institute’s initiatives throughout the year.

The Institute’s Advisory Board is a group of health care thought leaders representing the diverse stakeholders involved in the integration of health information technology. This esteemed group provides iHT² with insight and guidance throughout the year on how it can better serve the health care industry in their goal of fostering the adoption and implementation of health IT.

“Members of the iHT² Advisory Board greatly enhance our ability to offer health IT leaders superior educational and collaborative opportunities,” said Barry P. Chaiken, MD, MPH, Senior Fellow & Health IT Chair, Institute for Health Technology Transformation, CMO, DocsNetwork & former HIMSS Chair. “The insight provided by these distinguished professionals allows iHT² to keep pace with developing trends in healthcare, and offer conferences, webinars and publications that satisfy the needs of a wide range of industry professionals.”

The new members join a board of over twenty health IT leaders representing organizations throughout the country including: Kaiser Permanente, Catholic Health Initiatives, Capital BlueCross, Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Delaware Health Information Network, and more.

The newly appointed members are:

  •     Samantha Burch, VP, Quality & Health IT, Federation of American Hospitals
  •     Mary Carroll Ford, MBA, VP & CIO, Lakeland Regional Medical Center
  •     Dick Gibson, MD, Chief Health Intelligence Officer, Providence Health & Services
  •     Fred Galusha. CIO & COO, Inland Northwest Health Services
  •     Chris Jaeger, MD, VP, Medical Informatics, Sutter Health
  •     Elizabeth Johnson, SVP, Applied Clinical Informatics, Tenet Healthcare
  •     Bill Phillips, CIO, University Healthcare System
  •     Justin Graham, CMIO, NorthBay Healthcare
  •     Andy Steele, MD, Medical Director, Informatics, Denver Health
  •     Doris Crain, CIO, Broward Health
  •     John Santangelo, Director of IT, Cleveland Clinic Florida

“The Advisory Board contributes invaluable industry insight that results in some of the most comprehensive, intimate, and informative programs taking place year after year,” said Waco Hoover, CEO, Institute for Health Technology Transformation. “The accomplishments and dedication of the Advisory Board is what truly separates the Institute apart from other organizations.”

Intermountain Healthcare, Partners Healthcare System, and Kaiser Permanente to Deliver Keynote Presentations at the Health IT Summit in San Francisco

The Institute for Health Technology Transformation announced the keynote presenters for the Health IT Summit in San Francisco, which will take place March 27-28th at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport. The keynote presenters at the annual program will be Mark Probst, CIO, Intermountain Healthcare, Blackford Middleton, MD, Corporate Director of Clinical Informatics Research & Development, Partners Healthcare System, and Hal Wolf, SVP & COO, The Permanente Federation, Kaiser Permanente.

The iHT2 Health IT Summit, will bring together C-level, physician, practice management, and IT decision-makers from North America’s leading provider organizations and physician practices. For two full days, executives interact with a national audience of peers, national leaders and solutions providers featuring the latest solutions for practice management, mobility, telemedicine, outsourcing, IT infrastructure, next-generation electronic medical records, disease management, and more.

“We are dedicated to continuous improvement that enhances patient care. I look forward to learning from health care leaders and sharing our experience in improving outcomes by putting advanced health IT in the hands of clinicians, care teams, and patients,” said Hal Wolf, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Permanente Federation, Kaiser Permanente.

Panel discussions for the Health IT Summit in San Francisco include: Accounting for Assumptions: Taking a deeper look at reforming our healthcare delivery system, HIE & HIX: The convergence of healthcare information, Securing Electronic Personal Health Information (ePHI): From the Data Warehouse to the Point of Care, Analytics in Healthcare: Improving Outcomes Through Data Management, The Cloud in Healthcare, Stage 2 Meaningful Use: Leveraging Technology to Improve Outcomes & Efficiency, Patient Management Without Walls: Enabling mHealth and Telemedicine, and more.

“Healthcare I.S. leadership is consumed with the demands of ARRA HITECH (meaningful use), ICD-10 (maybe we are going to get some relief) and a barrage of requests to meet the demands of a changing healthcare landscape,” said Mark Probst. “I believe that even though the demands are great – as I.S. leaders, we must not simply follow and adopt aging solutions, rather we have the responsibility to innovate.”

Sponsors and Partners include: ICA, InnerWireless, CloudPrime, Accellion, ICW, SLI Global Solutions, VMware, athenahealth, Comcast, InterSystems, LANDesk Software, Pano Logic, Aventura, Key Info, AUXILIO, Somansa Technologies, Inc., Salesforce.com, EMC2, AMDIS, The California Association of Healthcare Leaders (CAHL), California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH), CMIO, DOTmed, eHealth SmartBrief, Executive Insight, Frost & Sullivan, Healthcare IT News, IDC Health Insights, MarketsandMarkets, NASCIO, ReportsandReports, SearchHealthIT.com, and more.

Health Care Thought Leaders Release Research Report Finding Automation Is Key to Population Health Management

The Institute for Health Technology Transformationtoday released findings from an Automating Population Health Research Project, which seeks to educate the healthcare industry on how best to apply technology in meeting the challenges of population health management.

Prepared in consultation with a broad range of industry experts, the Population Health Management: A Roadmap for Provider-Based Automation in a New Era of Healthcare report finds that population health management requires healthcare providers to develop new skill sets and new infrastructures for delivering care. To make the transition from fee-for-service reimbursement to accountable care, which depends on the ability to improve population health, providers will need to automate many routine tasks, ranging from identification of care gaps and risk stratification to patient engagement, care management, and outcomes measurement.

“In the era of healthcare reform, provider organizations must change their traditional approach and embrace new ways of thinking about their mission,” said Waco Hoover, CEO of the Institute for Health Technology Transformation. “They must not only care for the sick, but also strive to keep their patient populations healthy. Information technology is the key to doing this cost efficiently, and automation can enable care teams to identify and work with the patients who truly need their help.”

Report coauthor Paul Grundy, MD, Global Director of Healthcare Transformation for IBM, and President of Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, commented, “Patient-centered medical homes based on primary care are the building blocks of accountable care, and information technology is the key to successful medical homes. With the help of registries, electronic health records, health information exchanges, and other tools for care coordination and automation, healthcare providers can manage their populations effectively and keep their patients as healthy as possible.”

Andy Steele, MD, MPH, Director of Medical Informatics at Denver Health, and another of the report’s contributing authors, said, “Given potential health care reform and efforts to increase quality and efficiency of care in the setting of persistent fiscal limitations, the importance of leveraging information technology and focusing on population health management has become a top priority for many health care institutions. Our goal for the project is to provide resources that health care providers can utilize as they are considering and implementing population health management initiatives.”

Richard Hodach, MD, MPH, PhD, Chief Medical Officer of Phytel and chair of the report’s research committee, commented, “This important new report underscores the message that Phytel has been spreading among physician groups for the past several years. By using technology to identify subpopulations and patients who are at risk, to reach out to those patients, and to automate care management, healthcare providers can provide optimal preventive and chronic care to their patient populations. Providers can also use technology to engage patients in their own care, which is the real key to lowering costs and improving population health. We are proud of our participation in this project, and we hope that the report will be helpful to providers who plan to move in this direction.”

Among the healthcare thought leaders who contributed to the Automating Population Health Research Project are Alide Chase, MS, Senior Vice President for Quality and Service, Kaiser Permanente; Robert Fortini, Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, Bon Secours Health System; Connie White Delaney, PhD, RN, School of Nursing Professor & Dean, Academic Health Center Director, Associate Director of Biomedical Health Informatics, and Acting Director of the Institute for Health Informatics, University of Minnesota; Richard Hodach, MD, MPH, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, Phytel; Paul Grundy, MD, MPH, Global Director of Healthcare Transformation, IBM; Margaret O’Kane, President, National Committee for Quality Assurance; Andy Steele, MD, MPH, Director of Medical Informatics, Denver Health; and Dan Fetterolf, Principal, Fetterolf Healthcare Consulting.

Institute for Health Technology Transformation Appoints Jay Srini Senior Fellow & Innovation Chair

The Institute for Health Technology Transformation announced today that Jay Srini, Chief Strategist at SCS Ventures has been appointed Senior Fellow & Innovation Chair for the Institute’s 2012 series of educational programs and meetings.

Jay Srini is an internationally recognized thought leader on national and international trends that are changing the face of healthcare. In her current role at SCS Ventures, Jay works with startup companies internationally to help them with their business development, technology strategy, and expansion. She also advises established companies on their strategies to enter and grow their healthcare vertical.

“We’re thrilled to work with Jay in a concerted effort to move our health system forward with programs that foster the more innovative use of information technology,” said Waco Hoover, the Institute’s CEO. “Jay has a wealth of industry expertise that will make a meaningful and lasting impact on programs and initiatives developed at the Institute.”

In Jay Srini’s role as Senior Fellow and Innovation Chair she will work with the Institute’s Advisory Board and other industry leaders to program and develop leading educational programs and collaboration opportunities for health care leaders. In tandem with the Institute’s mission to promote the effective use of technology across the U.S. health system, Mrs. Srini will engage leaders from the community to ensure the Institute continually provides timely and relevant resources.

“We are in the midst of tectonic shifts in healthcare on all fronts ranging from new discoveries to new payment models and new stakeholders entering the healthcare sector,” said Jay Srini. “Finding innovative ways to deliver cost effective patient centered health care has never been as important as now. Innovation is virtually impossible without collaboration! I am honored and excited to take on this new role at iHT2 to develop new programs and platforms to drive innovation in healthcare through collaboration knowledge acquisition and knowledge dissemination.”

Jay’s prior experience includes her role as Chief Innovation Officer for UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) Insurance Services Division as well as her role as Vice President of Emerging Technologies for UPMC. Jay was Managing Director for e-Health Initiatives at Internet Venture Works where she led technology and industry assessments of opportunities presented by strategic partners, investors and external sources and served in executive management roles for its’ portfolio companies. She has served on several healthcare boards including HIMSS (himss.org), PRHI (prhi.org) and is a frequent speaker on International Healthcare forums. She serves on several HHS (Health and Human Services –hhs.gov) related advisory panels and serves in an advisory capacity to International healthcare Institutions and Venture capitalists.

Jay has a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from New York University and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Bucknell University and her executive education from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She also serves as one of the commissioners at CCHIT (Certification Commission of HealthCare Information Technology) in addition to her role as adjunct faculty Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and advisory board of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

 

About iHT2

The Institute for Health Technology Transformation is the leading organization committed to bringing together private and public sector leaders fostering the growth and effective use of technology across the healthcare industry. Through collaborative efforts the Institute provides programs that drive innovation, educate, and provide a critical understanding of how technology applications, solutions and devices can improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare.

The Institute engages multiple stakeholders:

• Hospitals and other healthcare providers
• Clinical groups
• Academic and research institutions
• Healthcare information technology organizations
• Healthcare technology investors
• Health plans
• Consumer and patient groups
• Employers and purchasers
• Device manufacturers
• Private sector stakeholders
• Public sector stakeholders

14,000-Year-Old Tooth Shows Oldest Form Of Dentistry And It’s Pretty Grim

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Stefano Benazzi

Early humans had to deal with cavities too and an infected 14,000-year-old tooth may have just given us a glimpse into the oldest known evidence of dentistry. Instead of sterile instruments and anesthesia, our ancestors had their cavities removed with sharpened stone tools. So, the next time you’re visiting your dentist be thankful you don’t have to undergo the grim, rudimentary dental practices from the Paleolithic era.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, analyzed a molar from a well-preserved 25-year-old male skeleton, whose remains were first discovered in a rock shelter in Belluno, Italy, in 1988. Researchers found evidence that the molar had been infected and was partially treated with sharp, flint tools.

“The treatment went unnoticed for all these years. The cavity was described as a simple carious lesion,” lead researcher Stefano Benazzi from the University of Bologna told Discovery News.

Researchers analyzed the infected molar with a scanning electron microscopy and found chippings and striations, which they suggest is evidence for the “intentional” removal of the infected tissue...

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Transylvanian Music Festival Offers Ticket Discount For Blood

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: SebGross/Shutterstock

A Transylvania music festival wants your blood. Yes, you read the correctly. Festivalgoers are being offered ticket discounts for blood donations. The rather unusual request is an attempt to tackle a blood shortage in hospitals across Romania, which has the second lowest number of active blood donors in Europe.

The music festival – Untold – is taking advantage of the country’s legend of being home to the infamous bloodthirsty vampire Count Dracula. The ‘Pay with blood’ campaign sees Untold teaming up with Romania's National Blood Transfusion Institute to give deals to donors during the festival's run from July 30 to August 2 in Cluj-Napoca. The festival, which is among a number of cultural events taking place this year in Cluj-Napoca, is predominately aimed at young people. The lineup includes Avicii, David Guetta and Armin van Buuren.

A poster promoting the 'pay with blood' campaign. Image credit: www.untoldfestival.com

“Given that Romania faces an acute blood shortage in medical facilities, a campaign that takes inspiration from these myths in order to draw attention to a real problem is more than...

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Art And Science Combine To Reveal The Inner Workings Of Our DNA

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: The enzyme TET binding to a segment of DNA. Kate Patterson

How can cells that contain the same DNA end up so different from each other? That is not only a difficult question for science to answer, but also a challenging one to represent visually.

It is also the question I posed at the start of my latest biomedical animation, called Tagging DNA, which visualises the molecular mechanisms behind epigenetics.

It specifically looks at a process called methylation, where methyl groups are added to DNA, thus changing which genes are switched on and which are switched off. This is one of the processes that enables the same static DNA to produce different types of cells throughout our bodies.

The animation also seeks to engage the viewer on a visual and emotional level, yet also balance what we know based on the latest science. You can view the animation below:

 

Tagging DNA: Mislabelling the Cancer Genome.

It is one of six animations created so far as part of the VIZBIplus project, established as part of the Inspiring Australia Unlocking Australia’s Potential Initiative.

With slight nervous excitement – since this was the first time...

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New Gene Links To Schizophrenia Could Open The Door To Improved Treatments

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Schizophrenia is a complex disorder affecting how an individual thinks, feels and acts. New research has found that people with certain genetic errors are more susceptible to the disorder. shutterstock

New research has found that people who suffer from schizophrenia could have genetic errors which affect them in three different ways.

First, these errors could make people more susceptible to the disorder. Second, these errors could influence how they respond to treatment. And finally, they could interfere with the body’s natural response to environmental factors like stress, trauma and substance abuse that contribute to the disorder.

Our findings represent substantial strides towards understanding how genes and the environment come together to shape schizophrenia as a disorder. For sufferers, these developments are important because it opens up a range of new pathway options that could further clarify how individual sufferers respond to treatment.

For example, genetic errors in the genes responsible for the way the body metabolises treatment drugs may influence whether the drugs are absorbed properly, transported to the site...

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People Near Fracking Wells Show Higher Hospitalization Rates

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Flaring at a gas well in Pennsylvania, where hydraulic fracturing has spread rapidly. WCN247/flickr, CC BY-NC

Over the past ten years in the United States, unconventional gas and oil drilling using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has experienced a meteoric increase. Since well drilling requires an influx of water, materials and workers into yotherwise rural and remote areas, the question has been: could air, water and noise pollution negatively impact on the health of nearby residents?

A study published last year suggested that hydraulic fracturing and proximity to active well drilling are associated with congenital heart disease and low birth weight newborns.

In research from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University published this week in PLoS One, my colleagues and I found that hospitalizations for heart conditions, neurologic illness and other maladies were higher among people who live near unconventional gas and oil drilling.

The finding suggests that these people are exposed to stressors, such as toxic substances and noise, that can lead to a higher rates of hospitalizations.

Active Wells

To address the...

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French Teenager Remains In Remission 12 Years After Stopping HIV Drugs

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Franco Volpato/Shutterstock

Anti-HIV drugs are very good at controlling infection, but the moment a patient stops taking them, the overwhelming majority of the time the virus bounces back with a vengeance. For a small percentage of the population, however, a specific genetic variation allows them to control the virus themselves, and in even rarer circumstances, people manage to keep the virus at bay after ceasing treatment – for no immediately obvious underlying reason.

Yesterday, at an international AIDS conference in Canada, another one of these unusual cases was presented, which scientists are hopeful could lead to a better understanding of how a minority manage to restrain HIV in the absence of drugs. The individual is an 18-year-old French woman who was infected around the time of birth and immediately put on antiviral treatment. This intense regime was discontinued six years later, but remarkably she remains symptom-free. As far as doctors are aware, this is the longest a pediatric case has stayed in remission after treatment was stopped.

The teenager is the latest addition to a small group of known individuals who...

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Musical Training Can Accelerate Brain Development And Help With Literacy Skills

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: What’s happening in world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s brain? Cello by Shutterstock

The notion that musical training can have positive effects on cognitive functions other than music has long been a source of interest. Research first emerged at the beginning of the 20th century. Standardised assessments of IQ and musical ability suggested the two were correlated – and it was thought that participation in musical training could improve IQ.

Recently, research has shifted focus from effects on musical training on global intelligence and instead focuses on benefits to specific skills and tasks in individuals.

Musical training has shown to lead to improvements in a wide variety of different skills, including memory and spatial learning for example. In addition, language skills such as verbal memory, literacy and verbal intelligence have been shown to strongly benefit from musical training.

Musicians are also more adept at processing speech in environments where there are large amounts of background noise, possess a greater propensity for processing auditory signals that are in some way degraded and show an advantage over their...

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What's Causing This Mysterious Sleeping Sickness In A Village In Kazakhstan?

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Edw/Shutterstock

It sounds like a scene from a horror film. Earlier last year, a tiny village in Kazakhstan was hit with a mysterious “sleeping sickness.” Residents were falling asleep at random; they were passing out while walking, in school and even on their motorcycles. Some fell asleep for up to six days at a time and when they woke up they couldn’t remember what happened. Others suffered from hallucinations, fatigue and headaches. But what was making residents in the town sporadically fall asleep?

The sleeping sickness first hit the town in March 2013. Researchers – including sleep disorder experts – who went to investigate were left stumped at what was causing the mysterious illness. Now, government officials announce that the nearby uranium mines are to blame. The mines, which were closed shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, are thought to be the cause of heightened levels of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons in the air.

“The uranium mines were closed at some point, and at times a concentration of carbon monoxide occurs there,” said Kazakhstan’s deputy PM Berdibek Saparbaev, according to The Guardian. “The oxygen...

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British Man Receives Bionic Eye Implant

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Macular Society.

In a world first, an 80-year-old British man has received a bionic eye implant to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As a result of AMD, Ray Flynn's central vision became increasingly blurred over the last eight years, which made it difficult for him to see what was directly in front of him. Flynn, and millions of others like him, had to rely on his peripheral vision, worsening his quality of life. The groundbreaking surgery restored Flynn’s central vision from the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world.

The avid football and gardening fan has been given another chance to watch his favorite team – Manchester United – play and see things in his garden again. This is the first time that the Argus II implant, produced by Second Sight, was used in a patient with AMD. The Argus II implant had previously only been used on patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa, who had no peripheral vision. 

“Mr Flynn's progress is truly remarkable, he is seeing the outline of people and objects very effectively,” Professor Paulo Stanga, who led the four hour surgery, told the BBC.

“I think this could be the...

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Researchers Find That Prawns Could Help Protect Against Bilharzia

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: The female worm sitting inside a groove in the belly of the male. Jessica Lucia/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It infects over 200 million people worldwide, and is only second to malaria in the economic impact it has on the countries in which it is prevalent, and yet schistosomiasis – also known as bilharzia, or more simply “blood flukes” – is too often neglected. But now, researchers at Stanford might have a found a natural solution to help curb the disease: prawns.

The parasite is a type of fluke worm, which spends half of its life cycle in humans and the other half in freshwater snails. The researchers found that the freshwater prawns feed on the snails, but because the prawns do not get infected by the parasite, the fluke’s complex life cycle is broken. In addition to this, the prawns provide a highly saleable, protein-rich product.

“They are delicious,” said Susanne Sokolow, lead author of the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, referring to the prawns. “They can [cooperate] with local efforts in the developing world to fight parasitic disease and to foster new aquaculture-based...

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Progressively reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes may not lead smokers to quit

The US Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, passed in 2009, permits the US Food and Drug Administration to set standards for cigarette nicotine content. The FDA is accordingly supporting research into how very low nicotine content (VLNC) cigarettes might function as a regulatory measure to make cigarettes non-addictive, reduce smoke exposure, and improve public health. However, new research shows that simply reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes may not be enough to eliminate smoking dependence.

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Researchers to map impact of infectious diseases against research spending

Scientists are set to analyze research investments into infectious disease research, particularly pneumonia and maternal and neonatal infections. By studying how research funding is allocated relative to the global burden of disease, and assessing the outputs and impact of research, the resulting data will be used to better inform future investment decisions.

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Shining a red light to slow downy mildew on basil

Basil can add a little zest to any meal. But downy mildew disease threatens the herb’s very existence. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are trying to manage the disease with little to no spraying.

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Poor survival in multiple myeloma patients linked to genetic variation

Multiple myeloma patients with a genetic variation in the gene FOPNL die on average 1-3 years sooner than patients without it. The finding was identified with a genetic mapping technique, genome wide association studies (GWAS), and verified in patient populations from North America and Europe. This was the first study to survey the entire human genome for genetic variation influencing survival, and is a first step toward applying precision medicine to multiple myeloma.

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Diagnostic test developed for enterovirus D68

A diagnostic test to quickly detect enterovirus D68, a respiratory virus that caused unusually severe illness in children last year, has been developed by researchers. The outbreak caused infections at an unprecedented rate, with over 1,000 confirmed cases and 14 reported deaths nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Heroin Use and Overdose Deaths Rising in the U.S.

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: GraCon Design/Shutterstock

The number of people doing heroin in the U.S. has reached ‘epidemic’ levels, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Use of the drug increased by 63% and heroin-related overdose deaths nearly quadrupled from 2002 to 2013.

The rise in use has been seen in nearly every demographic group, the CDC notes. In particular, the report found that heroin use has doubled among women and non-Hispanic white people. Though it was most common among males, those who are most at-risk of dependency are people aged 18-25 years, non-Hispanic whites and those with an annual household income of less than $20,000 a year. The report suggests the rise in heroin use is being driven by prescription drug abuse, particularly opioid painkiller use.

“It's really a one-two punch,” Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC, said in a phone briefing.

“First is an increasing number of people primed for heroin addiction because they're addicted to or exposed to prescription opioid painkillers; and second is an increase in the supply and accessibility and decrease in the cost of heroin,” Frieden explained.

People...

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Animals' infections can impact most on relatives, study finds

Disease in wild animals can have a greater impact on the health of others than on the infected animals themselves, a study suggests. Research in families of wild seabirds reveals for the first time how parasite infection in some can have a serious effect on how well their relatives do.

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Treating breast cancer with progesterone could aid survival

A special technique where breast cancer cells are “rescued” for research has been developed by researchers. Coupled with advanced scientific technologies, this has provided a unique insight into the hormone regulation of breast cancers, which is expected to lead to new treatments for the disease.

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Reversing the deadly side effects of Tylenol overdose

New research could help reverse deadly side effects caused by excessive doses of the drug acetaminophen, the major ingredient in Tylenol and many other medicines. Researchers have developed a mathematical model of acetaminophen metabolism based on data from rats. The findings suggest that giving patients glutamine -- a common amino acid in the body -- alongside the standard antidote for acetaminophen overdose could prevent liver damage and boost the body's ability to recover.

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Cell that replenishes heart muscle found by researchers

Regenerative medicine researchers have identified a cell that replenishes adult heart muscle by using a new cell lineage-tracing technique they devised. Adult heart muscle is comprised of cells called cardiomyocytes. Most cardiomyocytes don't replenish themselves after a heart attack or other significant heart muscle damage. The new cell-tracing technique allows them to detect cells that do replenish themselves after being damaged.

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Clients lost in system when safety-net agencies close

Safety-net agencies, such as food banks and nonprofits offering health care, serve vulnerable individuals who are uninsured or underinsured and help them connect with services, such as health care, legal aid and housing. An American researcher offers recommendations for agency leaders and policymakers to make sure safety-net agencies are sustainable and, if they do close, clients continue to receive the services they need.

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Has Meat Met Its Match?

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Illustration by Jericó Santander

Sensitized to the environmental costs of livestock, a new generation eyes options for changing our carnivorous ways.

July 28, 2014 — The future of food arrived at Waitsfield Elementary School — a tiny brick throwback in Vermont’s pastoral Mad River Valley — just after lunch on May 15, 2014, in a handmade straw basket on the shoulder of Rachael Young. The cafeteria was still full of kids, so Young slipped into the kitchen as surreptitiously as possible. “Let’s see if we can do this on the sly,” she said to me. “I don’t want them to see anything ahead of time.”

We unpacked in a far corner of the kitchen, shooing away the occasional set of prying eyes. While I spread a ramp-knotweed pesto onto tortillas and cut them into eighths, Young found a pan, fired up the stove and dry-fried the main ingredient. “You may get a really weird smell in a moment,” she apologized. “It has something to do with the chitin when it’s heated. But it still tastes great!”

Young is the 34-year-old founder of Eat Yummy Bugs, a Vermont-based enterprise that encourages people to do just that, and a consultant with World...

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Sense Of Smell Linked With Mortality Risk

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Halfpoint/ Shuttersock

Dramatic headlines such as “Your sense of smell could predict when you’ll DIE” understandably caused quite a stir last year, which were the result of a study that found how well an older person’s olfactory, or smell, system is functioning can strongly predict the likelihood of death within five years. People may raise their eyebrows over this conclusion, but there is science behind the madness: Olfaction is actually linked to a wide range of physiological processes in the body. And now, it seems there is further evidence to support this idea, as a large new study has just backed up these findings.

For this latest investigation, researchers from Columbia University enrolled more than 1,000 older adults from a range of ethnicities. Individuals were provided with 40 “scratch and sniff” strips, each one laced with a different scent. After giving them a good old whiff, participants were asked to identify each individual odorant from a multiple choice list displaying four different possibilities. Participants were then followed up at two-year intervals, for an average of four years, using either interviews or...

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New Method Could Reveal Your Entire Viral Infection History With A Single Drop Of Blood

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Vitstudio via Shutterstock

By analyzing just a single drop of blood, scientists could reveal every virus you’ve ever been infected with. This new method, developed by researchers from Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), is called ‘Virscan’ and it could revolutionize existing diagnostics.

Traditional blood tests, known as ELISA assays, are only able detect one pathogen at a time and scientists have yet to develop ELISA assays against all viruses. In comparison, Virscan can simultaneously test for more than a thousand different strains of viruses that have previously or currently infected a person. 

 “What makes this so unique is the scale: right now, a physician needs to guess what virus might be at play and individually test for it. With VirScan, we can look for virtually all viruses, even rare ones, with a single test,” says corresponding author Stephen Elledge, in a statement.

For the study, Elledge and his team developed a large number of peptides, which are short protein fragments derived from viruses, to find evidence for previous and current viral exposure.  This screening technique was tested on 569 people from...

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There's No Evidence Of Any Health Benefits To Eating Your Placenta

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Placenta pills. Dan Ox / Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Do you want it in a smoothie, encapsulated in a pill or would you like to eat your placenta raw? This is a question a growing number of mothers are asking themselves. Women who are digging into their placentas for the supposed health benefits should probably stop, as a new study suggests that these claims are not based on any scientific evidence.

“There are a lot of subjective reports from women who perceived benefits, but there hasn't been any systematic research investigating the benefits or the risk of placenta ingestion. The studies on mice aren't translatable into human benefits,” said corresponding study author Dr. Crystal Clark in a statement.

The study, published in the journal Archives of Women's Mental Health, reviewed 10 published papers that looked at the health benefits of placentophagy – the practice of consuming the placenta. Researchers weren’t able to find any conclusive data to support the claims that eating your placenta could prevent postpartum depression, reduce pain or boost energy.

The placenta is what separates a mother's blood supply from her fetus' and...

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Four Myths About Allergies You Thought Were True – But Aren’t

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: I can’t believe it isn’t true. Hayfever by Shutterstock

Allergies are on the rise across the developed world and hay fever and eczema have trebled in the last 30 years. Yet allergies are an area of much confusion and concern. Although 40% of people report having a food allergy, in fact only 1-5% do, and allergists commonly report spending most of their consultations refuting firmly held beliefs that have no scientific foundation.

Theories about allergy – some from medical research and some from lifestyle “gurus” – have led to conflicting information, making it hard to know what to believe. Because of this, Sense About Science worked with me and a number of allergists, immunologists, respiratory scientists and pharmacists to produce Making Sense of Allergies, a guide tackling the many myths and misconceptions about allergies. One common myth – something that I work on – is the link between allergies and exposure to microbes.

So here is a hygiene and allergy reality fact check:

Do Fewer Childhood Infections Mean More Allergies?

No. Although a link between allergies and microbes is largely accepted, the idea that more infections...

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Muscle Engineered To Respond To Light

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki/shutterstock

Muscle that has been genetically engineered to contract when flashed with light could be used to help patients with paralysis, a new study suggests. Scientists have been able to introduce a gene for a light-sensing protein into the muscles of a mouse’s larynx and successfully stimulate it with pulses of light.

Known as “optogenetics,” the technique makes cells that would ordinarily respond to electrical signals respond instead to light. The team behind this new study, published in Nature Communications, had already shown that heart muscle can be engineered to contract when hit by light, but this is the first time that they’ve been able to achieve the same with skeletal muscles, which is normally moved under conscious command.

“Depending on where we point the light beam, we can also stimulate individual muscle groups—exactly the same way the body does it through the nerves," explained Dr. Tobias Bruegmann, the lead author of the study.

For their experiment, the researchers used the genes that code for a family of proteins called channelrhodopsins, originally discovered in blue-green algae. As...

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FDA Panel Backs Experimental Drug That Improves Women's Sex Drives

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: MOSO IMAGE / shutterstock

Government health officials who advise the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have given the “female Viagra” drug their backing and recommended that the FDA approve it, but with safety restrictions and conditions attached.

The panel voted 18-6 in favor of the drug, called flibanserin, designed to boost the sexual desire of women who have lost their libido. It has so far been rejected twice by the FDA, once in 2010 and again in 2013, due to worries over side effects. But other groups claim that the real barrier to getting the pill approved is one of inherent sexism.

The main concern over the drug's use (and the reason it’s been stalled for the past five years) is one of safety. The FDA claims that this is the real issue and not some underlying bias. They say that the side effects, such as dizziness, nausea and low blood pressure, simply outweigh any benefits derived from it. They highlight the fact that some women had to drop out of the trial due to such extreme negative effects.

Other women involved in the clinical trial of the “little pink pill” have, however, sung its praises. Some of these 11,000...

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Your Blood Type Could Influence Your Chance Of Developing Alzheimer's

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: sfam_photo/shutterstock

Blood types have previously been linked to a variety of medical conditions, from influencing heart disease risk to thinking and memory problems. Now, some new research, published in the Brain Research Bulletin, may have revealed the role that your blood type plays in the chance of developing cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Sheffield, looked at the amount of grey matter, a type of nervous sytem tissue, in people’s brains and then compared this with their blood type. They found that those with blood type ‘O’ had more grey matter than those with any of the other three types. A greater volume of grey matter has been previously linked to protection against diseases like Alzheimer’s.

The participants involved in the study were mentally healthy adults who had previously undergone MRI scans for other research. After collecting details on their blood type, the scientists began examining their brain data to look for any apparent associations. What they found was that people with types ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘AB’ had smaller amounts of grey matter in the...

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Man Receives First Scalp And Skull Transplant

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: MD Anderson Cancer Center

U.S. doctors have successfully performed the world's first partial scalp and skull transplant. James Boysen received the craniofacial tissue transplant, as well as a kidney and pancreas transplant, after a rare cancer left him with a severe head wound.

Boysen is in “awe” that he’s up and walking just two weeks after his surgery. He was first diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer that develops in smooth muscle, on his scalp in 2006. Though he was treated with chemotherapy and radiation, Boysen was left with a 25-by-25-centimeter (10-by-10-inch) hole on his head that left his brain vulnerable. To add to his misery, Boysen’s kidney and pancreas, which he received in 1992 to treat his diabetes, were failing. But doctors could not perform a much needed double-organ transplant if he still had an open wound.

The immune suppression drugs he was on to prevent his body rejecting the donor organs created "a perfect storm that made the wound not heal," Boysen told the Associated Press (AP).   

Dr. Jesse Selber, a reconstructive plastic surgeon at MD Anderson, soon made a connection between Boysen's...

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Engineered Viruses Could Fight Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: nobeastsofierce/ Shutterstock

In the war against antibiotic resistance, which threatens to send medicine spiraling back into the dark ages, scientists are racing to try and find desperately needed replacements before an extra 10 million people worldwide are killed each year due to the problem. Although we’re still very dependent on antibiotics, some promising alternatives have been proposed recently, and we may now have another on our hands.

Scientists from Tel Aviv University (TAU), Israel, have engineered viruses in such a way that they not only seek and kill bacteria, but also destroy antibiotic resistance in the bugs they target, rendering them susceptible to drugs. According to the researchers, viruses designed using this novel strategy could have a place in hand sanitizers or cleaning fluids to prevent the spread of drug-resistant microbes in hospitals and other clinical settings, which are hotspots for these life-threatening pathogens.

The viruses exploited in this latest study are natural predators of bacteria called bacteriophages, or phages, which are harmless to humans. These fascinating, sci-fi-style killers are...

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How Your Parent's Environment Can Affect Your DNA

Health and Medicine
Photo credit: petarg/ Shutterstock

Who you are is not just down to your DNA; your environment plays a big role, too. Lifestyle factors such as stress and diet can alter the way your genes are tagged with on and off switches, which modify the way your genes are expressed. While this much was known, how these changes seem to be passed on to future generations has puzzled scientists. Now, a new study has finally provided some insight into what’s going on.

Although early cells destined to become eggs and sperm are wiped of these changes early on in embryo development, scientists have revealed that some stretches of DNA resist this so-called reprogramming, allowing the modifications to persist and thus become heritable. Importantly, the researchers discovered that some of the resistant genes are associated with certain diseases, including obesity and schizophrenia. These intriguing findings have been published in the journal Cell.

While DNA contains the codes necessary to build an organism, not all of our genes need to be active at the same time or in the same place throughout the body. This is where epigenetics come in; these modifications to...

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An initiation mechanism for dendritic spines discovered

An initiation mechanism illuminates the molecular processes involved in learning and cognitive dysfunction. The discovery is important, as most of the neuronal connections, called synapses, are build to dendritic spines. In many central nervous system diseases, the dendritic spine density is altered.

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Missing teeth predict cardiovascular events

Advanced tooth loss often indicates that a person has a history of inflammatory oral diseases. In an extensive cohort study, it was shown that tooth loss associate with future cardiovascular events, diabetes and death.

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