In the news this October:
In Profile – The joy of dogs
-Having a dog may make you healthier!
-The NHS unveils a plan to cut down on single-use plastic
-A new medical theory may explain why Neanderthals died out
-Perfectly placed pacemakers
Decontamination and sterile services news
-Graphene filter manages bacteria in hospitals
-Product Profile: Zoll AED Equipment
The health benefits of man’s best friend
Do you love dogs? In the UK we are famous for doting on our pets and there is no doubt that dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best animal friend.
At Newtons Medical Supplies, our quality medical products include a range that is perfect for veterinary surgeries and which helps to take care of our canine friends when they are under the weather.
Now there is particularly good news for the health of dog lovers as well. A survey carried out in Sweden and reported by both the Mirror and the NHS has shown that owning a dog can reduce your risk of heart disease.
The study included 3.4 million people aged 40 – 80. The very interesting results indicated that people who had a dog were shown to have a 23% reduction in the chance of death from heart disease and a 20% lower risk of dying of any cause during the length of the study which lasted 12 years.
It is thought that dogs help humans to deal with anxiety, depression and loneliness, all of which have been associated with heart disease and the possibility of early death.
Dogs also encourage people to take regular exercise. The biggest positive impact was found to be on people who lived alone because dogs provide enforced activity, sociability and a purpose in life.
Large dogs and particularly pointers and retrievers, were found to be the most beneficial breeds because they need lots of exercise!
The NHS article cites another study carried out by the University of Toronto in Canada, which also found that dog owners were 24% less likely to have died during the follow-up to the study from any cause, and 31% less likely to have died of cardiovascular disease. Additional research is planned to find out the precise reasons for these results.
Good news all round for those of us who live with doggie friends!
The NHS unveils a new strategy to reduce plastic
Our stories about the NHS are usually about the cutting-edge treatments and medical research for which the organisation is justifiably renowned. However, this vast organisation is also a major commercial body.
At Newtons Medical Supplies we are proud to work directly with a number of NHS organisations to provide them with high quality and excellent-value medical products.
Most of us will be only too aware of the world’s growing understanding of our environmental challenges so we were interested to read a recent story about the NHS’s stance on plastic.
A recent article on the Huffpost Website highlights NHS CEO Simon Stevens’ pledge to cut out avoidable plastics.
The plan will start with the phase-out of plastic straws and stirrers from April next year and will also enhance existing environmental protection schemes such as the increased use of water fountains to cut down on the use of plastic bottles.
The NHS uses an eye watering amount of plastic. Last year this amounted to:
- 163 million plastic cups
- 16 million pieces of plastic cutlery
- 15 million plastic straws
- 2 million plastic stirrers
The initiative is being spearheaded by NHS Supply Chain which is responsible for managing the organisation’s food and health products and is also being supported by many retailers which are embedded in NHS premises including Marks and Spencer, Greggs and Boots.
Plastic straws and other plastic items that are needed for medical purposes will still be available for people who need them e.g. for disabled people who need to use drinking straws.
A simple medical explanation for why Neanderthals may have died out
Every now and again we like to delve back into history to see how far we have come in developments in human health and medicine. You may remember the profile section in our May blog this year about ‘olde worlde’ medical treatments.
An interesting article in The Independent Online looks at an investigation into the demise of one of our early human ancestors, Neanderthals, and says that archaeologists may now know why they died out.
Previous theories had centred on the idea of a single cataclysmic event (much like the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs). A recent investigation has indicated that this could have actually been due to a relatively common disease – ear infections.
Human children are susceptible to ear infections because the parts of their ears which drain fluid are less developed but this changes as we move into adulthood and our ears become more developed.
Neanderthals were an individual human species which lived between the periods of 450000 and 60000 years ago and archaeologists have now discovered that they had ears which did not change or develop as they grew older.
Without basic hygiene or simple modern day treatments such as antibiotics, ear infections could develop into problems with hearing, respiratory illnesses and life threatening conditions like pneumonia. Even if you didn’t die as a direct result, persistent illness and infection would have made life fairly miserable and daily activities to sustain life such as obtaining food would have been much more difficult.
The full study can be found on the Anatomical Record website.
Perfectly placed pacemakers
The use of pacemakers has revolutionised heart surgery and has helped many people with heart problems to continue to live active lives. Pacemakers are small packs of batteries that are placed under the skin and which monitor the heart for any problems with rhythm. They can then apply a shock to regulate heartbeat if needed.
Surgeons have now developed a new way to map hearts in order to place a specialist type of pacemaker in exactly the right position. This model of pacemaker has been designed to manage heart problems where the two sides of the heart don’t beat together and need to be regulated.
Positioning these devices can be difficult as people who experience heart failure often have scar tissue already in their hearts and pacemakers work most effectively if they avoid damaged areas. Traditionally pacemakers have two leads but this innovative new pacemaker has three, and it can fail to work properly if one of the leads is not correctly placed.
King’s College London and the technology firm Siemens have worked together to design advanced software which creates a detailed heart map which shows surgeons exactly where to place the three leads during surgery in order to achieve the best results.
The new scanning process is currently undergoing a two year trial at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.
Decontamination and sterile services news
Revolutionary Graphene filter to deal with bacteria in hospitals
As part of the medical world’s ongoing efforts to manage bacteria and infection in hospitals, Rice University in the US have found a way to convert Laser Induced Graphene into an effective filter which can trap and kill bacteria. Plans for the device were outlined in the American Chemical Society Journal.
Graphene has been described as a super material. Although its origins go back 100 years it was created/discovered in its modern form only in 2004. Made out of carbon or graphite fragments which are just one atom thick, this makes it light and thin but also incredibly strong and highly effective at conducting both electricity and heat.
The Rice University scientists have found a way to use this versatile material in an innovative graphene filter device which traps microscopic bodies and pathogens and then destroys them with small periodic heat blasts of 350 degrees Celsius.
The filters have been demonstrated to be highly effective at catching all sorts of air borne contaminants including bacteria, fungi and spores. The material works so well as a filter because of its unique structure; the Laser Induced Graphene is manufactured at a range of different temperatures which produces a forest of graphene fibres with layers of graphene beneath. This structure effectively traps any substance that touches its surface.
The material is most likely to be of use in hospital ventilation systems because it can generate a high temperature which is particularly effective on some airborne pathogens like endotoxins which it fully destroys.
Research also showed that when the filters were tested after use they were found to remain clear of any bacterial growth. It is hoped that the filters can be developed into a commercial product which will help hospitals manage the airborne transfer of bacteria in the future.
Product profile: Zoll AED Products
Newtons Medical Supplies are an approved supplier of Zoll AED products. Zoll AED equipment is used worldwide and has saved many lives in first aid scenarios.
What is an AED?
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a vital piece of equipment to have available when a person experiences a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA).
AEDs provide real time guidance to help first aiders and/or first responders to apply CPR, and can also deliver a shock to the heart to restore natural rhythm if this is required.
At Newtons Medical Supplies we supply AED equipment to businesses and organisations which want to have effective CPR support available on their premises.