Health In The News
Here’s a short round-up of health stories hitting the news recently, focusing more on the positive stories and the good news that we often don’t hear much of these days.
★ ★ ★
After 10 Operations, Baby Roux Returns Home To Birthday Wishes
Little baby Roux Owen, from Hull in East Yorkshire, sadly had to undergo a massive 10 operations in only 11 months to remove a benign brain tumour described as being “the size of two oranges”. His parents were able to bring him home in time for his first birthday, where he was pictured happy and smiling and surrounded by birthday cards.
Well-wishers had been following Roux’s journey for some months, and hundreds of cards were sent to him to celebrate his birthday from all around the world. You can read more about Roux and see photos of his brave journey from hospital to home here.
Healthcare Debts Cleared
Dr. Omar Atiq, an oncologist with his own cancer clinic in Arkansas, was closing his practice after 29 years. When collecting overdue payments from patients, he found many of them were simply unable to pay. Around 200 patients got a Christmas card from him, where he said he realised a lot of insurance co-pays & deductibles can be ‘burdensome’ and as such he’d decided to wipe their balance clean! This means there are hundreds of thousands of dollars that these patients won’t have to pay, taking away the worry of debt incurred by their cancer treatment.
What a lovely gesture! You can read more about Dr Atiq here.
Cow Cuddles For Stress Relief
A dutch trend is paving the way for a new form of stress relief. Koe knuffelen, Dutch for ‘hugging cow’, sees people going to farms in the Netherlands to spend hours among the cows, leaning on them and hugging them. It’s thought that this soothing practice is thanks to the animal’s temperament, warmth and size, releasing a boost of oxytocin to improve mood and reduce stress in us stressed out humans.
Move over goat yoga. Cow cuddling is in. You can read more about cuddles with cows for mental health here.
Hormone In The Heart To Reduce Atrial Scarring & Prevent Strokes
Researchers at the University of Oxford have discovered a common hormone, calcitonin, is produced inside the heart and could help in preventing the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation by protecting against scarring within the upper two atria.
This scarring seen in atrial fibrillation prevents electrical signals from being able to travel correctly along the heart. This results in chaotic beating and potential blood clots which can, in some cases, lead to debilitating or fatal strokes. Until this latest research, calcitonin was believed to only be produced by the body’s thyroid gland and have no impact on the heart. Now it’s thought that the upper chambers of the heart actually produce around 16x more of this hormone than the thyroid does.
From these findings, researchers think it’s possible that increasing calcitonin levels within the heart could help in protecting against this potentially lethal condition that affects 1.4 million Britons. Find out more from the British Heart Foundation on this “game-changing” discovery here.
Speedy Bone Healing
Researchers at the King’s College London are looking to revolutionise the process of healing broken bones. A new biomaterial is being researched and tested that can be applied like a bandage to fractures and broken bones. It’s coated in a naturally occurring protein and capable of healing damage very quickly throughout the body. It’s found to work even more quickly when another element is added, a 3D collagen gel that contains particular bone cells from the patient’s stem cells.
This biodegradable bandage is only two or three times thicker than a piece of human hair and once it has rebuilt the pieces of broken bone, it is absorbed by the body, apparently without unwanted side effects. It’s hoped that this bandage could change the future of how broken bones are dealt with in hospitals while reducing the chances of infections. Furthermore, it’s thought that this biomaterial could be used to help with the repair of tissue from damage anywhere in the body.
Read more about the bone bandage here.
When Will You Be Able To Get A Covid19 Vaccine?
There has been a lot of news articles lately regarding vaccinations for the Covid19 virus. In the UK, news of delaying the second jab from 21 days to 12 weeks has infuriated many people, myself included. While there is a petition for this, it appears the change isn’t going to be reversed anytime soon.
The government have issued a list of eligibility, where you can see what group you’re in and when you’re likely to have the vaccination, should you agree to have it. This is, however, a constantly changing process, with a lot of bumps in the road and delays that we read about in the news, so it’s only for guideline purposes. The government has advised that individuals will be contacted in due course once they are eligible and an appointment is available.
Oxytocin May Quieten Tinnitus
Scientists are currently evaluating the use of oxytocin nasal sprays in managing tinnitus. The so-called ‘love hormone’ could help in reducing activity in those regions of the brain that create the sound heard by tinnitus sufferers. While oxytocin nasal sprays have shown potential benefits for a range of things, from behavioural issues to limp libido, research conducted by the Federal University of Sao Paulo in 2017 suggested it could also reduce tinnitus symptoms.
A trial by New York University of 30 participants will be undertaken, likely in 2021, to investigate the use of oxytocin nasal spray over a six month period and its effect on tinnitus. You can read more about tinnitus and oxytocin nasal spray here.
Type 2 Diabetes Drug Approves As A New Heart Failure Drug
The drug dapagliflozin, used previously for treating Type 2 diabetes, has been approved for use by the NHS for patients with heart failure. This medication costs only £244 a year.
Research conducted with nearly 5,000 patients found that dapagliflozin, used alongside typical heart-failure medications, resulted in a “significant 30% reduction in urgent hospital admissions” and a “remarkable 18% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease over two years”. You can read more about the approval of dapagliflozin for heart failure here.
Related Reading :
I’d love to know what you think of these developments. Have you read any interesting health stories in the news lately?