In the news in August:
In Profile – Measles is making a comeback
– The UK is no longer measles free
– Increased cases of measles reported in the US
NHS & Medical News
– The NHS is taking action on prolonged hospital stays
– Do optimists live longer?
– Groundbreaking surgery helps patients regain movement after paralysis
– Cardiac surgeons can now operate on heart valves without open heart surgery
– Endoscopic mini cameras
– A great summer at Newtons Medical Supplies!
In profile: Measles is making a comeback
The UK has lost its ‘measles free’ status
There have been lots of high profile stories in the media this year about measles.
Following the success of extensive worldwide vaccination programmes, hopes had been raised that the disease might be eventually be completely eradicated, so it is no surprise that 2019’s increase in outbreaks has caused widespread concern.
Measles is a contagious and potentially serious disease which can cause a range of physical complications and in some cases, even result in death.
Unfortunately the UK has now officially lost its ‘measles free’ status due to the number of reported cases this year (231 in the first quarter of 2019) and the Prime Minister has promised urgent action to increase the uptake of vaccinations.
A story in the Huffpost reports that the public health objective in the UK is for 95% of the population to have had both of the required doses of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccination. Currently take-up of the second dose is at just 87.2%.
One of the reasons cited for the low uptake has been ‘anti vac’ articles and opinions circulating online and on social media which allege a connection between vaccines and some medical conditions, including autism. This has led to some parents being worried about vaccinating their children despite strong reassurances from the NHS and Public Health England.
The NHS has published detailed information on the subject to help parents through the process.
Increased cases of measles in the US
Although the US has seen a recent slowdown in the number of measles cases being reported, the country also risks losing its ‘measles elimination ‘status due to the increase in cases this year.
A 1% increase was seen between August 15th and 22nd and the US has seen its largest outbreak this year since 1992. The figures will be reassessed in October to see if the disease is still considered ‘eliminated’ – a status that has been in place since 2000.
NHS and Medical News
The NHS is taking action on prolonged hospital stays
As we have discussed in previous blogs, the NHS has launched an ambitious ‘Long Term Plan’ which is intended to make the service more efficient and cost effective, and to deliver the best possible outcomes for patients and service users.
A new campaign has recently been launched which is part of the plan. Entitled ‘Where best next?’ it encourages medical professionals to always think ‘Why not home, why not today?’ in their dealings with patients, and particularly with those who have been in hospital for some time.
‘Where best next?’ has 5 clear principles which include; planning for discharge from the start of treatment, involving patients and their families in decisions, establishing processes for frail people, carrying out multidisciplinary team reviews, and always having a ‘home first’ approach.
Statistics show that nearly 350,000 people spend more than three weeks in acute hospitals, despite the fact that recovery in a home environment can be more beneficial if the right support is available. Keeping people in hospital for extended periods is also expensive compared to at-home and community support where this is appropriate.
Don’t worry – be happy (for a longer life!)
Many of us will have been ‘happy’ (!) to hear about recent research which has established that people who are more positive may also have the potential to live longer.
Reported in the Guardian, the research was carried out by the Boston University School of Medicine and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Researchers looked at data from two previous long term studies; one including a cohort of men and another of female nurses.
The women were divided into four groups and the most optimistic group was found to have a lifespan nearly 15% longer than the most pessimistic.
The men were divided into five groups with the top fifth most optimistic living 11% longer than the lowest fifth. When a healthier lifestyle was also taken into account (as it was thought that optimists might be more likely to follow a healthy lifestyle) the figures were a 9% longer lifespan for women and 10% for men.
A definite link was also established for those reaching the grand old age of 85.
The most optimistic group of women had a 20% better chance of living beyond 85 than the least cheerful group. It was noted by the researchers that the participants had a relatively high socioeconomic status and most were white, so more research will be needed to look at all groups in society.
Although the research didn’t identify a direct cause for increased lifespan, it does suggest that positive psychological wellbeing has a definite affect on our health over the long term.
One more reason to be cheerful – if needed!
Groundbreaking surgery helps patients regain movement after paralysis
The New Scientist has reported that surgeons have successfully carried out procedures to ‘reanimate’ the nerves of people experiencing paralysis.
Investigated by Austin Health in Australia and published in The Lancet, this was the first time that researchers had collected data on outcomes for a range of patients who have benefited from this type of pioneering surgery.
Australian surgeon Natasha van Zyl (who has conducted 160 of the procedures herself) gathered information on cases from different countries to show the success of the approach.
The surgery helps both quadriplegics and tetraplegics – people who have paralysed legs and/or arms. Often these conditions are caused by a spinal cord injury which prevents the limbs from working below the site of spinal damage. In this treatment surgeons use working nerves above the site of the injury and effectively splice them to paralysed nerves below.
Recipients of the operation have demonstrated the ability to grasp items, extend elbows and regain some movement in their limbs. The research team hopes that the data showing the efficacy of the procedures will lead to more of these operations being carried out around the world.
Cardiac surgeons can now operate on valves without the need for open heart surgery
In another interesting story related to developments in the field of surgery, the Daily Mail has highlighted innovative surgery which allows heart valves to be repaired whilst hearts are still beating.
Until now, the repair of heart valves has always required highly invasive open heart surgery which may not be suitable for patients who are too ill for the procedure.
This new approach uses a small NeoChord device which is inserted into the heart through a cut of just two inches. Surgeons then use ultrasound to identify the necessary repair which is stitched by the NeoChord device.
The surgery normally takes just two hours and because it is non-invasive, this means a quick recovery with patients able to return home within a few days.
Surgeons at the Royal Brompton hospital have treated 17 seriously ill people with this method and it is hoped that the procedure can be rolled out more widely in the future.
Endoscopic mini cameras
When we think about endoscopy, most of us envisage the hand held equipment which is operated manually by most endoscopists. EE News has recently highlighted the development of a new type of tiny endoscopic camera the size of a pill which has been developed by Endotrace Research, as part of a project funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research.
Although small endoscopic cameras have been in use for nearly two decades, this camera has been developed to respond to movement so that it takes more appropriate images of the intestine.
The camera moves along the villi in the intestinal walls which triggers an image every tenth of an inch. This means that half the number of images are taken during the procedure but they are more relevant, so this speeds up diagnosis. This is particularly useful for acute problems like bleeding where a swift diagnosis is required before starting appropriate treatment.
As we continue to learn from our monthly blogs, the development of new and sophisticated technology has an exponential impact on the development of treatments and procedures for a wide range of medical issues.
Our summer sale
August saw our first ever month-long Summer Sale which we are delighted to report was a huge success.
We always aim to offer our customers the very best value and levels of service, so keep an eye on our website and social media for upcoming offers, sales and our popular product discounts of the month.
For more information about Newtons Medical Supplies or our products, please get in touch.