Health In The News [16/03/2020]

Given the current situation worldwide, I’ve decided to remove all Coronavirus-related news from this round-up. It’s a worrying time but we’re also getting a lot of information on it and I don’t want to simply replicate what the official sources are saying and overwhelm everyone further. Without further ado, here are a few recent health stories hitting the news.

Alzheimer’s Hope With New Genetic Findings

Research conducted by the University College London Genetics Institute has unveiling some interesting findings recently. They looked at the DNA of 10,000 individuals, half with Alzheimer’s and half without. Those without were more likely to have particular genes that reduce the functionality of tyrosine phosphatases, a protein involved in brain cell destruction that leads to Alzheimer’s development. Those with a lower risk of Alzhiemer’s presented with more genetic variants that disrupt how the tyrosine phosphatases work. It’s the first time such genes have been discovered. As a result, it’s thought that reducing the growth and functionality of tyrosine phosphatases could help in mitigating the impact of Alzheimers, either in treating it or slowing down its progression. 

It can seem like there’s a lot of new discoveries and little development in the way of actual treatment. But hopefully each new discovery will add up and there will be a brighter future when it comes to this viciously unfair disease.

You can read more here.

Professional Dancer Undergoing Cancer Treatment Goes Viral

John Christopher Polintan, known as JC, is a 30 year old professional dancer. In a video captured by his girlfriend, JC shows he’s still got the moves as he’s shown dancing in a ward at Philippine General Hospital, all the while with a IV drip attached to his arm and a smile on his face.

JC was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma and was told in January 2020 that he had 4A NPCA. Before starting chemo, he practiced his dance skills and posted on Facebook, “Warming up before my chemo starts tom. Thanking the Lord for everything despite my situation”.

The clip has gone viral not just because of his crazy good moves, but because of his sense of spirit and his attitude, giving inspiration to those who may be going through their own challenges or health battles. I hope he shows cancer who’s boss. Be well, JC!

You can read more here.

First Migraine Prevention Drug In 20 Years

Finally! The first new drug in 20 years for migraine prevention will be available on the UK NHS following NICE approval. Fremanezumab (Ajovy) was initially turned down in draft guidance but negotiations on price have turned this around. It’s not Aimovig (rejected recently, which I wrote about previously), but Ajovy could potentially bring hope to many migraine sufferers.

Sadly, I imagine the use of this will be very restrictive in terms of patient criteria, so I won’t get my hopes up for trying it. But it’s a good start and it’s good to see an agreement made with price negotiations rather than money before patients. 

You can read more here.

A Chronic Pain Implant That Automatically Responds To Your Needs

Spinal-cord stimulation has been a treatment for over 50 years in the UK, but now there’s a new implant with an added benefit. The recent development of Evoke, an implant to block pain messages through electrical pulses to the patient’s spine, is the first to respond automatically to individual needs. It’s able to automatically adjust up to 5 million times each day by sensing when the pulses need to be weaker or stronger. According to research, it’s thought that older models of spinal cord stimulation provide a 50% reduction of pain, compared to an 80% reduction by Evoke. 

So far, the first two implants have been provided to patient’s within the South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust area. It’s hoped that the technology will soon become more widely available. 

You can read more here.

1 In 10 GPs Are Full Time Now As 40% Shift To Locum Work

An image of a stethoscope lying on a table.

Finding it hard to get an appointment with a GP, let alone a regular, familiar face? It’s common knowledge that the NHS is struggling and that GPs are in increasingly short supply. 

The General Medical Council (GMC) statistics suggest that it’s now only around one in ten GPs that are in a full-time, permanent position. 

It has been reported that four in ten GPs operate either full time or part time as locums, where they avoid some of the pressures from a GP surgery and earn up to £200,000 a year. 

The GMC figures show that in 2013 there were 10,375 GPs across England and Scotland on a single permanent, full-time contract. In 2019, this dropped to just 6,473. In contrast, locums increased during this period, going from 15,711 to 22,984. 

The move from permanent full-time GP to the flexible work of a locum shows a shift in the lifestyle and financial choices GPs are making. 

You can read more here.

Down With The Gown – The End To Routinely Used Open Back Hospital Gowns?

The backless gown has been used for decades in NHS Hospitals for those undergoing surgeries or other procedures. The open-back gown is also used for those recuperating in hospital on the wards. 

Professor David Oliver, a past vice-president at the Royal College of Physicians, has said that the open-back gown is often used for no real purpose and merely leaves patients feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed. 

Medics are now leading a #DownWithTheGown campaign to give patients back their dignity, urging for an end to the open-back gown when not necessary. There’s also the thought that doing away with gowns for recovering patients is important so as to encourage normality and movement, with the hopes that patients will recover more quickly and go home. This last part is one I don’t particularly agree with.

However, I’ve used these gowns many, many times. Sometimes they’re important, such as for a procedure or surgery so as to allow easy access to whatever body parts they need to get at. But much of the time, they don’t seem all that necessary. The ties are incredibly fiddly and I’ve often be left trying and failing to tie them properly myself. The last thing you want, when wandering around a hospital feeling poorly and vulnerable is your bare bum on display for all to see. To give my personal opinion to this news piece, I think realistically gowns are required but for many occasions it would be possible to design a better fitting gown that can be more easily tied so as to cover the patient. Common sense, no?

You can read more here.

New Rules For Travel Insurance

And it’s good news (hopefully) for those with pre-existing conditions.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has imposed new rules for insurers in the hopes of providing cheaper, more fair insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions (PEMCs) in the UK. 

A digital image of a suitcase on water, with a tiny boat to the right. The suitcase has opened up as though it's a laptop, with a blue sky on the screen and sand with a deckchair where the keyboard should be.

Those with PEMCs can face a challenge with getting travel insurance, having to list all of their conditions accurately to avoid any complications or rejections should they need to claim on their insurance. Individuals with pre-existing conditions often find fewer insurers will offer cover compared to those in full health, while also finding far higher premiums from those who do offer policies. 

It’s estimated that 14.1 million individuals with PEMCs look for travel insurance each year, with 11% opting for a policy that doesn’t even cover there condition, while 0.7% are declined for any cover altogether. The FCA anticipate that customers with medical conditions could save in the region of 40% by using a specialist provider.

With the new rules submitted by the financial watchdog, insurers will need to signpost PEMC customers under specific circumstances, such as when the customer is declined or cancelled as a result of a PEMC, when a condition is excluded from a policy, or when the customer has to pay far more for the cover because of the condition(s). All insurers will need to implement and adhere to the required by the 5th November 2020. 

Furthermore, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) is creating an online directory to list providers specialising in protecting travelling that have serious medical conditions. 

You can read more here.

What do you think about any of these news stories? Have any others caught your attention recently?

Caz  ♥

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47 Comments

  1. March 16, 2020 / 5:02 pm

    Terrific post. For those who have other ailments of all levels of magnitude, it’s important not to forget them…thanks for sharing!

    • March 16, 2020 / 8:11 pm

      It was good to read something non-Corona related.
      Have a great day, Caz xx

      • March 18, 2020 / 4:22 pm

        John & Viola – Thank you both, I’m glad I avoided Coronavirus in this one now. xx

  2. March 16, 2020 / 5:05 pm

    Thanks, Caz, for all the wonderful uplifiting news, alzheimers & dancer. I love how the dancer’s inspiration goes round & round! As for gowns, geeze, have never been able to figure out the ties. & am scratching my head over whether good or bad that gp’s going to part-time… something I’ve noticed that I love on different note is how many women gps have stay-at-home husbands 🙂

    • March 18, 2020 / 4:25 pm

      Those gowns… surely they could keep them but make them easier to wrap around fully and tie up. It’s good to see a little more empowerment for women with female GPs and stay at home hubbies. Should be accepted and ‘normal’ however relationships and families work, irrespective of gender. Good point on that one. I hope the week’s treating you well so far xx

  3. Ashley
    March 16, 2020 / 5:39 pm

    It should be a challenge on Project Runway or something to design a gown that doesn’t leave your butt flapping in the breeze.

    • March 18, 2020 / 4:29 pm

      Damn, that’s a good idea! They could probably take it to London Fashion Week afterwards, too.

  4. March 16, 2020 / 5:42 pm

    Thanks Caz. Not all news is bad. I liked the dancer’s moves and his upbeat attitude.

    • March 18, 2020 / 4:30 pm

      It’s hard to see the good news among so much bad/worrying stuff in the media at the moment. Coronavirus has taken over, as it should when it affects us all, but it’s important not to lose sight of the goodness. I hope you’re keeping as well as possible, Darnell.x

  5. March 16, 2020 / 6:03 pm

    Love the dancer. He’s so upbeat. That made me smile.

    You make me smile. You’ve such a positive attitude.

    Have a fabulous day. Big hug. ♥

    • March 18, 2020 / 4:47 pm

      Aww I’m really glad you liked it – the dancer is fantastic, I hope he can offer a little brightness and hope to many. Take good care of yourself, Sandee xx

  6. March 16, 2020 / 6:08 pm

    I think some of this sounds really positive. It’s nice to hear some positives…
    The gowns are, ugh… I know I had to wear it for an appointment that was completely unnecessary for me to even change fully but those were the regulations. I’m glad it is changing.
    Thinking of you and hoping you’re busy with good things…
    Love, light, and glitter

    • March 18, 2020 / 4:55 pm

      It’s definitely good to seek out some positives right now. As for the gowns, surely there’s a way to make them more practical to protect modesty. Fingers crossed! Stay safe & well, Eliza xx

  7. March 16, 2020 / 6:16 pm

    Hmm. Out of all the good news, the professional dancer put a smile on my face. I think attitude helps with treatment, and hats off to JC. The hospital gowns, they’re necessary during surgery, or when a patient is feeling too weak, but otherwise, one can simply raise the shirt, or lower the pants to give the doctor access (and that sounded a little kinky, huh). The Alzheimer and migraine prevention sounds like a huge step as well.

    • March 18, 2020 / 5:05 pm

      Hah that does sound a little kinky! Attitude does matter, even generally day to day with living life and it supports physical health when you’re less anxious or stressed, though it’s often easier said than done. Thanks for the comment lovely xx

  8. Benn Bell
    March 16, 2020 / 6:24 pm

    Down with the gown! Great post Caz!

    • March 18, 2020 / 5:22 pm

      Glad you liked it, thanks! I hope you’re having a decent week so far, take good care of yourself x

  9. March 16, 2020 / 7:50 pm

    Such an interesting collection, beginning with the wonderful dancer.

    I recently had an upper endoscopy. Granted, the only location they needed to access was my mouth. But the gown had an additional panel that covered me completely. A bit more tying, but definitely an improvement.

    Cheers!
    Annie xx

    • March 19, 2020 / 4:15 pm

      How did you get on with the endoscopy? Have you had any results? I really hope everything is okay… As for the gown, an extra panel sounds like a good idea! They do need to make them a little less fiddly but extra fabric to wrap around seems like a good place to start.xx

  10. March 16, 2020 / 8:30 pm

    Another great post Caz, up to date and informative and positively promoting health news in the UK. The Alzheimer’s news is amazing and one which will give hope to many families. I love the chronic pain implant and look forward to hearing more — it’s something I think I (with TM) and the millions of others with chronic pain would benefit from.

    It’s about time Insurance for those with PEMCs was looked at – the insurance companies have been making millions and as you said, if you haven’t documented everything 100% accurately, they’re unlikely to pay out. It’s cost me many thousands over the last 10 years and I’ve never (thankfully) had to make a claim.

    The gown bit made me laugh — I don’t know about you, but I’ve had one or two embarrassing moments.

    • March 19, 2020 / 4:18 pm

      Glad you liked the round-up, there’s certainly some interesting stories to be found that err on the side of positivity and hope, which is what we could all use about now. I agree, insurance should have been looked at a long time ago but better late than never. I think so many of us generally are sceptical of insurance, it’s one of those obligatory things that you hope you’ll never need because we can’t trust it paying out when we need it the most. Hopefully more stringent oversight on companies will at least keep costs more reasonable. And yes, definitely more than a few embarrassing hospital gown moments! I hope you’re managing okay this week lovely xx

  11. March 16, 2020 / 11:03 pm

    My grandma died from Alzheimer, I really hope they find a cure and it’s awesome how much research has progressed

    • March 19, 2020 / 4:20 pm

      I’m so sorry, that’s awful.. it’s such a cruel condition and it’s about time there was a brighter path forward with treatment and, hopefully as the ideal, an actual cure  ♥ xx

  12. March 16, 2020 / 11:35 pm

    Caz, great post.
    First for sharing that dancer story. It fills a heart with positive vibes.
    Now, a chronic pain implant. wish that was available sooner. Maybe, I woiuldn’t be in the position I am currently in.
    Thank you foer this post.
    Hope you are having a good start to the week.

    • March 19, 2020 / 4:22 pm

      He’s one cool dude, I love his attitude. I’m so sorry you’re in so much pain, Drew. You would have thought, of all the things in the medical world to ‘solve’, pain would have been one of the slightly more do-able ones. Hopefully the implant and more developments around stimulation for pain can bring a wider range of treatments so everyone can find something that works for them. I hope you’re keeping safe and as well as possible (I know you’re not ‘well’, but you know what I mean), sending good vibes your way  ♥

  13. March 17, 2020 / 5:15 am

    The chronic pain implant sounds like it could really help Jay and lots of others. Here’s hoping it becomes widely available soon!

    • March 19, 2020 / 4:23 pm

      It seems promising so fingers crossed it can become widely available and, hopefully, that the findings can trigger more developments in other pain relief treatments so everyone can find something that works for them. x

  14. March 17, 2020 / 9:29 am

    I always look forward to your highly informative and interesting posts Caz. This news is being sidelined because of Covid19. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. It’s encouraging to hear of progress! I hope you are doing well. Happy St.Parrick’s Day! Le grà, Marie xx

    • March 19, 2020 / 4:26 pm

      Aw thank you, Marie, I’m glad you liked the round-up. I think we could all do with a little more news as the situation gets increasingly worrying and bleak. I hope you stay safe and as well as possible lovely xx

  15. March 17, 2020 / 9:30 am

    I’m very interested in the Alzheimer’s story, my mother in law has advanced Alzheimer’s. I will read more about that.
    I’m so glad Ajovy has been approved! I hope you can get it! I think the requirements here were, you had to have tried and failed at least 2 preventatives and have more than 14 migraines a month. I blew that out of the water.
    I have had a few places give me better gowns, it’s nice. And one time they put one gown on facing front and one facing back, so nothing showed.
    Last time I had a CT scan the gown was awful! It would not stay on, and it was slit in the front too with snaps, but a snap was broken and my boob kept falling out! It was horrible. There was no reason for me to have that gown.
    Nice post Caz, thanks for the break from the Big C.

    • March 19, 2020 / 4:32 pm

      Aw no, I’m really sorry about your mother-in-law. I mentioned this with another comment on here but it’s such a cruel disease and it’s heartbreaking knowing how many suffer, both those with Alzheimer’s and their loved ones.

      I wasn’t sure with Ajovy but it seems like possibly needing to have tried a few migraines medications (didn’t say preventatives but perhaps that’s what they mean) without success. Well, I use Sumatriptan which typically works though doesn’t quite do what it used to and I can’t use it all the time given the sheer number of migraines I get, even though they’ve upped my med allowance. I’ve tried one preventative that was utterly awful and couldn’t take it longer than 3-4 days as I was so sick. I think they’d want several hoops jumped through before I’d be allowed Ajovy because they’re not going to be keen to give it to anyone if they don’t have to.

      Aw hahah yep, you can’t beat a good gown embarrassment story. I don’t think medics necessarily realise how humiliating it can be, how we already suffer a loss of dignity by needing the tests or being in hospital unwell and then the gown just makes it worse.
      Thanks for the comment, Wendy. Stay safe and as well as possible lovely xx

  16. March 17, 2020 / 4:06 pm

    What a great roundup of mostly positive things happening in medicine. It’s nice to see some good news in light of everything. Thanks for sharing these and helping to keep us informed on the latest advancements! Xx

    • March 19, 2020 / 4:36 pm

      Absolutely, a bit of good news is hard to find at the moment but it’s good to hunt it down because it is there. Think we all need a bit of brightness on the horizon right now. Thanks for the comment, Mykie – please stay safe xx

  17. March 17, 2020 / 7:21 pm

    Brilliant post, Caz! (Nothing new there though) Honestly, you have given so much hope in this post. Lots of new advancements and understandings to consider. I love that! When it comes to chronic conditions, having hope can mean the difference between well or depression. It’s awful when you feel no good news is on the horizon!

    The Alzheimer’s findings regarding genes that reduce the functionality of tyrosine phosphatases is fascinating! My brother-in-law passed away from Lewy Body Dementia and it was truly an awful disease to witness the progression of. It was devastating to all of his family. His passing was a blessing for him, as all of his functionality was gone. He lay in a hospital bed thinking we could understand what he was saying but it was unintelligible, much like a stroke victim. He had to get food through his feeding tube and was just miserable. Alzheimer’s and all of its variants are absolutely awful for all involved. It’s encouraging to hear they have found this!

    I love the video of JC! Bless his heart. Cancer is another disease that is so unbelievably unfair. It has touched my family many times over. Watching your loved one lose the fight – or go through the fight – is heartbreaking at best. I pray JC is able to keep his strength up and as you say, show cancer who’s boss! 🙂

    I am incredibly hopeful to hear about the advancements for chronic pain sufferers! Wow, what a blessing either of those interventions for migraines or the Evoke implant would be! Chronic pain, as you are well aware, affects our very ability to function in day to day life. Having some normalcy and freedom regained would be huge for all who suffer.

    I must admit, #DownWithTheGown cracked me up! It is demoralizing to walk through a hospital with your bum hanging out! Good grief, I was on full display once and had no idea. (sigh) I agree with you completely, at a minimum, could we please get a decent redesign that made them fit better? Sheesh.

    Awesome post, Caz. These are promising updates to an over-taxed, overwhelmed and under-performing medical system at present. I pray patients begin to come first on ALL fronts. So much genuine help is needed.

    All My Best To You Friend, Holly 💕

    • March 19, 2020 / 5:16 pm

      An incredible comment, Holly – thank you!

      I’m really glad you liked the post. It’s hard to find good news at the moment but that’s why it’s all the more important to hunt it out. I think we all may need a dose of hope, positivity and brightness in these worrying times.

      I’m so sorry about your brother in law. Lewy Body Dementia is a form that often doesn’t get much attention. Then again, I suppose ‘Alzheimer’s’ or ‘dementia’ are often used almost interchangeably to cover all types in the media and society generally. It sounds like he suffered so much, it’s such an incredibly cruel condition. And yes, it’s awful on those suffering and so hard on those around them, for all involved as you say. It’s heartbreaking.

      I would have thought redesigning the gowns wouldn’t be too difficult (though I say that and likely wouldn’t be able to do it myself!) Patients go through enough without taking away more dignity with their bits flashing around all over the place.
      Stay safe & as well as possible & thanks again for taking the time to share such a fantastic comment  ♥ xx

  18. March 17, 2020 / 7:41 pm

    Thank you for talking about something other than this virus, Caz! We all need a break, and some good news on the medical front is very much appreciated!

    • March 19, 2020 / 5:17 pm

      Glad you liked it 😊 It’s overwhelming with all talk about the virus at the moment – it’s needed, but it’s overwhelming a lot of people. Good news is required to provide just a tiny bit of balance and brightness xx

  19. March 17, 2020 / 8:21 pm

    What a FANASTIC good news post!!! That video made me laugh and cry so much. WOW! Thank You more than I can say, Caz! Cheers and Rock on!!!

    • March 19, 2020 / 5:36 pm

      Aww that’s fab – so glad you liked the news round-up, Katy! I think we could all do with a little good news each day, now more than ever.xx

  20. March 18, 2020 / 7:17 pm

    Loved this post , great to know about the Alzheimer’s research .The dancer was really so inspiring in spite of what he is going through .The changes to the gowns is also nice to know .Wonderful to read uplifting post in times like these Caz. Take care .

    • March 19, 2020 / 5:50 pm

      More goodness is definitely needed right now. Glad you liked the post – thanks, Nisha! Stay safe and well xx

  21. March 19, 2020 / 12:16 am

    This is a wonderful post! Thank you so much for all the good information.

    • March 19, 2020 / 5:52 pm

      Really pleased you liked it, thanks, Kymber – stay safe & well, and I’m enjoying your new series! xx

  22. March 20, 2020 / 3:01 am

    Thank you so much for compiling all this latest health news! I love reading posts like this, and seeing all the good progressions in the health sector – it gives me hope and makes me happy to see all the work being done.

    I hope you are well and are having a lovely day!

    Susie
    findyourownhope.com

    • March 20, 2020 / 6:42 am

      I totally agree, it’s important to find out the good news and the hope in the world. We’re certainly lucky in the age of scientific advancements so fingers crossed it can be a brighter future for more people.. Thank you for the comment, Susie. Stay safe & well xx

  23. March 22, 2020 / 2:27 am

    It’s nice to see health news that not only doesn’t involve COVID-19, but is also promising!

    • March 22, 2020 / 6:49 pm

      Absolutely, it’s a breath of fresh air. I’m so sorry for how you’ve been health-wise. I saw your recent post. Thinking of you & really hoping the med adjustment helps and some miracle can come your way.xx

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