|HEALTH & FITNESS|
control your blood pressure
Acidity may lead to
Our ancestors ate
triples heart attack risk
Breast-feeding is best
less invasive, more effective
Surgical procedures form a large proportion of the overall healthcare facility and cover almost every speciality. Optimising patient safety is a major consideration. Societial demands for greater accountability in medical performance and uniformity in training are major driving forces to mobilise technologies to support the competence and integrity of the profession. Technological advances are leading to new techniques and procedures. The overall objective is to make surgery more efficient.
Technological advances include a trend towards less invasive procedures. Surgery today is faster, less invasive and more effective. Imaging lets physicians understand the patient’s condition better, plan treatment more efficiently, and deliver the treatment more precisely.
High-intensity focused ultrasound: Surgery without incision: high-intensity focused ultrasound causes selective tissue necrosis in a very well-defined volume through heating or cavitation. Its potential has been demonstrated in many settings, including the tumours of the liver, breast, pancreas, prostate, uterus and bones; for surgical haemostasis and the relief of chronic pain of cancerous origin. Researchers are testing high intensity ultrasound to blast precancerous breast lesions without making an incision. The technology thus could replace breast removal. Recent technological development suggest that this technique is likely to play a significant role in future surgical practices.
Robotic surgery — the shrinking surgeon: The computing and robotic technologies are about to transform the operating room and combine the great capability of a machine and human skill. Robotics allows for unprecedented control of surgical instruments, improves precision, stability and dexterity. Robotic and image processing systems have been developed in order to interactively assist the medical team, both in planning the surgical intervention, and in its execution. Robotic surgical systems give the surgeons the flexibility of traditional open surgery while operating through tiny incisions. It enables a surgeon to sit at a console, manipulate sophisticated joysticks that mimic the handles of surgical instruments, and control the movement of precise robotic arms that operate, articulating surgical instruments.
The computer has a model of the patient. As the surgery gets along, the computer will keep the model updated and provide information to the surgeon, help guide the surgeon’s hand and prevent errors. The objective of this new technique is to enhance the quality of surgical procedures by minimising their side-effects (smaller incisions, lesser trauma and more precision), thus increasing patient benefit while decreasing the surgical cost. The robot will become more than a surgical tool — it will be a surgical assistant. This will even make feasible certain operations that are impossible now.
Surgical simulator: It emulates, with a high degree of accuracy, the anatomy of organs and tissues. "Virtual" tissue is created and the instruments give a force feedback in the hands that mimic how tissue and blood vessels feel and behave in real surgery. Simulation of surgery fulfils needs to compare alternative procedures, develop and refine interventions, reduce complications, increase predictability, train practitioners, customise instruments and devices, and improve outcomes. These simulators will allow the instruction of correct surgical technique without the need for live patients.
Virtual reality: Simulation for the development and refinements of surgical skills has come to the forefront in recent years, and has begun to be accepted by the surgical community. Virtual reality is a computer-generated technology which allows information to be displayed in a simulated but life-like environment. Virtual reality technologies allow an operation to be practised, and the outcome viewed, before the patient undergoes surgery.
Virtual training environments may even mean that surgeons do not have to train on animals. Thus, the surgical approaches can be optimised and rehearsed, with obvious advantages for patients and healthcare providers.
Telerobotic remote surgery: This provides high quality laparoscopic surgical services to patients in a rural community and provides a superior degree of collaboration between surgeons in teaching hospitals and rural hospitals to gain experience and expertise with the assistance of an expert surgeon. The expert assistance of the telerobotic surgeon allows the local surgeon to perform these surgeries with a greater degree of confidence and ease. A great deal of work has to be put into the reduction of the risk of communication failure and robotic failure. The clinical use of telerobotic surgery is not only possible but is safe and effective in improving access to advanced surgical care for rural and remote area patients.
Surgeons will always be needed. Robotics, telesurgery and virtual techniques will allow them to perfect their techniques and treat people in remote locations with patients not needing to travel long distances for an operation, or surgeons to travel to remote hospitals to perform these surgeries.
control your blood pressure
Hypertension is now
commonly considered a part of the middle age problem, but there is
realisation that it could be a major risk factor in diseases like
stroke, heart failure, renal failure, heart attack, etc. The primary
function of the heart is to supply pure blood to different parts of
the body through arteries. When the heart contracts it pushes blood
through blood vessels which increases pressure in the arteries —
this is known as systolic blood pressure and is represented by the
The pressure between two heartbeats is called diastolic blood pressure and is represented by the lower number. The abbreviation "mm Hg" means millimetre of mercury, a unit for measuring pressure. Normal blood pressure of an adult is 120/80 mm of Hg, but it varies with each decade of life.
Patients of hypertension are more concerned with their blood pressure readings and less bothered about its prevention. An appropriate alteration in diet along with a regular exercise regimen does help reduce blood pressure. It has now been proved that regular aerobic exercises like a brisk walk over several months can effectively decrease one’s blood pressure.
Normally, a stress test is advised if hypertension is accompanied by other risk factors like diabetes mellitus, an increase in the cholesterol level, the family history of coronary artery disease, smoking, etc. In the case of patients having blood pressure around 180/100-mm, drug therapy should be initiated immediately before starting an exercise program.
Exercises are usually helpful in the prevention and treatment of hypertension, but they are not the treatment as such. Exercises can lower blood pressure through several possible mechanisms. An exercise increases the cardiac output and reduces peripheral vascular resistance, which primarily raise the blood pressure. Exercises also reduce the fat deposit in the body, a factor that also aggravates hypertension.
Moderate exercises like walking are very effective for a long-term blood pressure lowering programme. It is advisable to start walking at a comfortable pace, which should be gradually increased. As stamina increases and the fitness level improves, the pace and distance can be increased on a daily basis. Then depending on an individual’s fitness level, jogging, bicycling, swimming, etc can be undertaken.
Training intensity should be kept in moderate limits in hypertensive patients. One can exercise within 50 to 75 per cent of the maximum heart rate, i.e. 220 minus one’s age. The initial conditioning should be continued for three months and if blood pressure is adequately controlled, anti-hypertension medicines can gradually be reduced.
Endurance exercises should comprise an important part of the fitness programme. The guidelines for hypertensive patients are quite similar to a healthy individual except that the intensity should be increased in slow progression. Lighter weights should be used and over 10-15 repetitions should be performed. Heavy weights can raise blood pressure to dangerous levels as this increases the oxygen demand by the heart in contrast to aerobic exercises. These days stretch bands are used for the purpose as they are absolutely safe and do not have any adverse effect on blood pressure, and there is no load on the heart.
Do exercises slowly. Never hold your breath while exercising, as it may cause blood pressure to rise. Always breathe in through the nose and breathe out through the mouth.
Leg exercise: Sit with both knees bent. Loop one end of the theraband over one knee. Step on the other end of the theraband with your opposite foot. Raise the leg with the theraband over the knee straight up, keeping the knee bent. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Sit with both knees bent. Wrap the theraband around both thighs. Push both legs out and slowly return the legs to the centre. Repeat 10 times.
Shoulder shrug: Stand on the theraband with legs hip-width apart and feet perpendicular to the band. Grasp the band so that it is taut when your arms are hanging at your sides. Lift and lower your shoulders 10 times.
Biceps curl: Using a split stance with knees slightly bent, place one foot in the centre of the band. Grasp the band so that it is taut when your arms are stretched out. Bend your arms upward. Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Calf muscles: While sitting in a chair, wrap the stretchband around the ball of the foot. Hold the other end of the band with both hands. Pull the toes downward while firmly placing the heels on the floor. Slowly return to the starting position. Do it 10 times.
It is necessary to take advice from a sports medicine specialist before starting any aerobic activity and strengthening programme.
Stop exercising in case you notice the following symptoms:
In severe cases of hypertension, appropriate diet, medication and exercises are crucial components in the day-to-day routine. It has been found possible to reduce blood pressure by 10 mm which proves to be beneficial in mild-to-moderate cases of hypertension. These patients can say good-bye to medicines, otherwise daily medicines become as unavoidable as diet.
The writer is a former doctor/physiotherapist, Indian cricket team.
Acidity may lead to
Having heartburn? Experiencing regurgitation? Feeling nauseatic? Feel like vomiting? Feeling tired without working much?
If the answer to these questions is ‘Yes’, then you are most likely suffering from hyperacidity. If this ailment is not cured in time it might lead to more complicated health problems like peptic and duodenal ulcers and, in some extreme cases, even gastric cancer.
The number of people suffering from these symptoms is rapidly increasing. The faster science and technology are advancing, the faster we are distancing ourselves from nature. Our eating habits, our way of life, our thoughts and even our daily routine are rapidly getting corrupted in the fast pace of modern life.
Consequently, we are increasingly becoming susceptible to ailments like hyperacidity.
Causes: The basic causes of hyperacidity are our thoughtless eating habits and our stressful way of life. But let us put it more specifically:
Excessive consumption of sour, salty, heat-producing, sweet and sour, spicy, fried foods.
Consumption of tea, coffee, alcoholic and aerated drinks and smoking cigarettes in an indiscriminate manner.
Eating food products made of refined flour or white flour (maida) etc.
Consuming leftover or stale food, junk food or fast food like burgers, patties, hot- dogs and fries too often.
Overeating: Eating food products with contrary properties like drinking milk after eating fish or drinking milk after consuming sour juices like orange juice or mixing coke with ice-cream.
Deliberately attempting to control and curb the natural urges of thirst and hunger by not drinking water when one is thirsty or skipping a meal when one should be eating.
Stress, worries and the fast pace of life.
Besides the above-mentioned causes, the amount of heat in the body naturally increases in the rainy season. If one does not follow the routine and the diet prescribed for these seasonal conditions, one increases one’s susceptibility to hyperacidity. Another cause of hyperacidity might be excessive sexual intercourse or indulging in sexual activities quickly after a meal, i.e. indulging in sex with undigested food in the stomach.
From the modern perspective a major cause of this disease is the presence of a bacterium called H. Pylori in the stomach. This bacterium weakens the lining of the stomach and makes the stomach walls vulnerable to acidic corrosion from hydrochloric acid produced in the stomach. However, a large number of people have this bacterium present in their stomachs but not all of them suffer from hyperacidity. This means that the above- mentioned causes catalyse the development of this ailment and it is important to take care of one’s lifestyle and eating habits if one wants to permanently keep away from this ailment.
Cure: The cure of this problem lies in preventing or keeping away from all the causes of this ailment. Regular consumption of foods like amla or Indian gooseberry, mulatthi, raw coconut, pumpkin and papaya are excellent for curing this disease.
Fruits and vegetables like papaya, coconut, green gourd (gheeya or louki), pumpkin (paitha), bitter gourd (karela), teenda, parval, toree, water-melon, ground melon (kharbooza) or honey-dew, kakree, cucumber, etc, are beneficial for this problem. However, one must not use lemon, tomatoes, rice, oranges, keenu, yogurt or curd, brinjal, kulthee, pickles, maida bread, biscuits, fried food, noodles, de-husked lentils (dhulee dal), alcoholic and aerated beverages, coffee and tea and keep away from smoking.
The writer is Deputy Director (Ayurved), Chandigarh
LONDON: A study conducted by researchers has revealed that human ancestors ate everything that could be considered as part of the normal human diet.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins, the University of Arkansas, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute claimed to have developed a faster and more objective way to examine the surfaces of fossilized teeth, a practice used to figure out the diets of early humans.
By studying the teeth of the Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus, the researchers came to the conclusion that though A. africanus ate more tough foods, such as leaves, and P. robustus ate more hard, brittle foods, they both changed their diet according to seasonal changes.
"This new information implies that early humans evolved and altered their diet according to seasonal and other changes in order to survive," Nature quoted Mark Teaford, professor of functional anatomy and evolution at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
For their study, the researchers developed a software, called "scale-sensitive fractal analysis," to analyse fossilised tooth surfaces through a confocal microscope, which allows three- dimensional analysis of an object". The study revealed wear patterns on the teeth suggesting that both species had variable diets.
"You put the specimen in and the microscope is programmed to step down at fine intervals, perform its series of scans, and collect 3D coordinates for each data point. The result is like a map of the earth that shows mountains, valleys and plains in full relief, only at a microscopic scale. Paleontologists and physical anthropologists have had a somewhat naive view on diet, in part due to the limitations of time-consuming, subjective approaches to analysing teeth. So, it’s a huge step to have a reliable technology that detects subtler diet variations," Teaford added. — ANI
WASHINGTON: People with pre-hypertension are at a higher risk of heart attack and heart disease, according to a study published in Stroke, a journal of the American Heart Association.
"If we were to eliminate pre-hypertension, we could potentially prevent about 47 per cent of all heart attacks," said the study’s lead author Adnan I. Qureshi, professor and director of the Cerebrovascular Program in the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Research Center at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.
Normal blood pressure is lower than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Prehypertension is systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139 and/or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89 mm Hg. (Systolic pressure is the force in the arteries when the heart beats and diastolic pressure is the force when the heart is at rest.) Hypertension is blood pressure 140/90 mm Hg or higher.
"There is a gray zone, where you are not hypertensive but your blood pressure is not normal either," he said.
More than a year ago, a national committee coined the term "prehypertension" for this gray area. But until this study, Qureshi said, physicians and the public knew little about what this term meant. About 59 million people in the United States are prehypertensive.
Researchers examined the existing data from the Framingham Study and found that a prehypertensive person is more than three times more likely to have a heart attack and 1.7 times more likely to have heart disease than a person with normal blood pressure.
They did not find a significantly increased risk of stroke among those with prehypertension. "This is somewhat surprising, but it may be related to the small number of stroke events in the study," Qureshi said. "The differential effect in this gray zone may be mediated through factors other than blood pressure, such as insulin resistance."
Researchers also investigated the population’s attributable risk, which determines how a disease will be impacted if that risk factor were eliminated. —ANI
WASHINGTON: Breast-feeding is not only good for the infant, but it is also beneficial for the mother, as it lowers stress.
A new research from the McGill-affiliated Douglas Hospital Research Centre in Montreal shows mothers who breast-feed respond less to stressful situations than those who bottle-feed their children. These findings suggest these mothers may be better able to care for their children.
"It has been well established that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for infants — it is beneficial to their physical and mental development," says Claire-Dominique Walker, senior investigator and director of the Neuroscience Research Division at the Douglas Hospital Research Centre.
"Our work now shows that there is a reciprocal benefit of breast-feeding to the mothers — they react less to stressful situations. This means they will focus more on their children and have more energy for activities such as attending to their infants and producing milk — this is an obvious gain for the children," she added.
Walker and her team, including Sonia J. Lupien, director of the Douglas’ Centre for Studies on Human Stress and graduate student Mai Tu, studied the stress responses of 25 breast-feeding and 25 bottle-feeding mothers, having either one baby or several other children.
The moms were exposed to different types of stressful situations ranging from those considered "emotional or relevant" — watching a video about hurt and lost children, to those considered "non- threatening or non-relevant" — such as public speaking and maths problems.
Stress was determined by measuring the levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in their saliva. The preliminary findings show that the breast-feeding moms had reduced levels of cortisol (indicating less stress) during the emotional and non-threatening stress situations. — ANI