Monthly Archives: December, 2010

The Doctor Will Now See Your Apps

Sceptics poo-poohed the advent of the iPad as a marketing gimmick, but when you consider more than 4 million have been sold and that PC sales are being affected, you know you’re on to a new tech wonder;.. I was impressed by the number of apps (short for applications) available for healthcare..and free too!

Top of the list and a must-have (and free!) is the layperson’s almanac on what condition he might be suffering from.

WebMD allows you to key in various data and comes up with a list of likely afflictions. Not only that, it allows you to see what drugs have been prescribed and what the possible effects (and side-effects) are. One customer review exclaimed “Helped save my wife’s life!”  but I would be happy if it would educate the patient what to expect before visiting the doctor.

Another useful app for diabetics (again free) is WaveSense Diabetes Manager, which allows you to fill in your glucose results, carb intake, and insulin doses. It then will plot a chart and graph to show your doctor at the next visit.

If you are keen on keeping track of the foods consumed and knowing the total calories consumed, then go for Go Meals. I was quite impressed with this one which fills you up with calorie values of foods, mainly fast foods at the moment though.

How about if you’re a blood pressure patient and wanted to impress your doctor with a graph tracking your BP readings? Take a look at Blood Pressure +Pulse Grapher Lite.

At the rate new apps are being offered, the iPad (and iPhone) looks like overwhelming the more traditional ones on the PC and Blackberry and will make iPad users have difficulty switching off. By the way, even when off, the iPad screen makes a good substitute for a vanity mirror!

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Things You Didn’t Know About Your Penis..Seriously

One of the more popular medical websites recently revealed 5 little-known facts about the male organ it reckons people were afraid to ask. It makes for interesting reading – with facts that both men and women will find interesting – and surprising.

Fact 1: It has a mind of its own – how else do you explain that an erection is possible at inappropriate times? And try commanding it to do otherwise – chances are you will be unsuccessful. The explanation lies in the influence of the autonomic nervous system which is at the subconscious level. This also explains why stress is one of the main causes of a flaccid penis.

Fact 2: Grower or show_er – there is no consistent relationship between the size of the flaccid penis and its full erect length. You can’t assume that a  big limp penis gets much bigger with an erection. Conversely,a  penis that looks tiny could surprise  with a big erection.

MRI scan confirms boomerang shape

Fact 3: A boomerang shape – MRI scans confirm that the penis is shaped like a boomerang because it curves to attach to the pubic bone underneath the skin.

Fact 4: It is possible to break it – while the penis has no bones, it is possible to fracture it. When penile fracture occurs, you can hear an audible snap.

Fact 5: Most men are not circumcisedworldwide, it is estimated that only 30% of men have had circumcision, of which 70% had it for religious reasons.

For more details on this article, go here.

Death of the Hard-Drive & Birth of the Apps

Of all the items in a shopping mall, perhaps the one with the shortest shelf life is probably computers and smart phones., if only because IT is advancing so rapidly. Even so, a big bug these products have is in the fragility of their hard disc. Anyone who has handled PCs,Macs and lap-tops, for instance, would have encountered one problem or another with their hard-disc drives.

So its not surprising then there is a distinct trend to move away from these solid fragile drives. Enter Google’s Chrome operating system unveiled last week and installed into Samsung and Acer computers. There’s no hard drives because all data is stored in online servers in cyberspace, in “clouds” so to speak. Would this mean the death of hard disc drives?

Some think it is unlikely; they’re just too deeply ingrained in what we do, at least for the time being. And even if they are ultimately pulled from computers,  one must remember that even if data is stored in online servers, these servers will still depend on hard disc drives!
With the advent of smart phones, so too has the vast number of apps that are available, of which health apps seem to predominate. Mobile health, or “mHealth,” is the latest craze among software designers and health industry companies that want to tap the potential of smart phones for purposes of health.
There’s a free iPhone app which will keep track of your blood pressure readings here.

There are now close to 6,000 consumer health apps, according to a review published in March by mobihealthnews, which reports on the mobile health industry, and more are being added every day. Many are free, or cost $1 to $10 to download.

I came across some interesting apps : there’s one that will estimate one’s blood alcohol concentration just in case you’re contemplating driving home from the pub.

And just in case you think your eyes are playing tricks, just download this app to test your vision: Eye Chart Pro.

You can find 100 Fabulous iPhone Apps for Your Health and Fitness here.

An Aspirin A Day For Everyone Above 45

..so said the headlines in a British newspaper, the Telegraph here. The paper was commenting on a study published last week which showed that those who consume as little as a quarter of a tablet of the over-the-counter aspirin pill reduced their chances of getting cancer of the large bowel, stomach and lungs.

Evidence is building that the benefits of taking aspirin for many healthy middle aged and older people 'far outweighed' the side effects

 

So taken up by this finding, The New York Times, in an article today offered an explanantion of how aspirin prevents cancer : inflammation may play a role in cancer, and aspirin blocks the synthesis of prostaglandins, which are mediators of inflammation, and may affect early tumor promotion.

Good news like this unfortunately may not make everybody happy. The pharma companies, for one, will not relish this as aspirin is a very inexpensive drug to produce and, not being covered by a patent, will not bring in much profits ( it only costs a heart patient USD 4 for a year’s supply of aspirin, compared with USD 2000 to keep him on cholesterol medications).

In fact,  3 decades ago, the medical fraternity were singing praises about it –about how aspirin prevented heart attacks and strokes –  to the extent that healthy doctors were taking it ‘just in case’ an illness were to strike them.There were calls then to even include aspirin in the community water supply so that people would benefit.

So how come this humble drug has not made that much a headway since it holds so much promise? The answer lies in the presence of a notorious and potentially dangerous side-effect: bleeding in the stomach and/or  the brain. This can occur in susceptible individuals sometimes months after commencing it and it is often difficult for doctors to anticipate who will get them.

Bleeding points in the stomach wall (ulcers), due to aspirin.

 

My advice is, despite aspirin being an over-the-counter medication not requiring a doctor’s prescription, its continuous usage necessitates one consulting a doctor about the potential risks. Caveat emptor!

For Real or Just Hype?

Reading the media, many doctors are fascinated as to the plethora of new drugs claiming to provide a ‘cure’ against diseases which hitherto were considered incurable. Why, new drugs have even pervaded the social media – pharma companies have started posting widgets on Facebook in a bid to attract readers. Last month, FDA cautioned the drug company Novartis for overstating the benefits of a drug without pointing out the ill-effects (see here).

Social Media as a Marketing Tool - even Big Pharmas Use It

 

 

This rampant form of advertising naturally may confuse the public about the efficacy of new medications. In fact, its sometimes difficult to know the validity of claims made in the media.

Here are  some tips on how to evaluate the validity of medical news items that you may come across..

  • It is a fact that competition is intense among medical journals, research bodies and medical journals to attract media attention. Media themselves compete with each other to come out with the latest. Try to read the same news from several sources. Obviously, if the item is reported in just one obscure source, it should carry less weight.
  • Look for key-words like suggestive or may (as opposed to will) as this does not always indicate a cause and effect meaning. Many people make hard-core assumptions based on such words.
  • It is the nature of scientific studies that, for a given topic, several would say one thing and a few would say the complete opposite. It is for the trained professional and their peer-groups to make an informed decision to advise consumers. Bear in mind that space is a premium with the mass media and such reports usually omit vital details which will affect accuracy.
  • Separate the wheat from the chaff..make sure the website you’re looking at is a reliable one!
  • Personally, I feel reports originating from researchers and pharma companies should not appear in the mass media without vetting by an appropriate professional body so as to convey the proper perspective to the audience at large. So if a news report originates from a known professional body, this should carry a lot of weight; as opposed to a solitary item in a nondescript health magazine.
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