- Worrying excessively about health, and going for unnecessary appointments and tests, is a growing problem – fuelled by looking up symptoms on the internet.
- There’s now an app that can measure the health of your heart – using the smartphone’s camera to measure the movement of the skin on the neck as blood passes through the carotid artery.
- Stroke survivors should be closely monitored for cancer for at least 18 months because they are doubly at risk of developing the disease.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 11th of September 2017. Read by Tabetha Moreto. Health News
Researchers say worrying excessively about health, and going for unnecessary appointments and tests, is a growing problem – fuelled by looking up symptoms on the internet. Health anxiety can also be caused by previous health scares and could affect one in five hospital out-patients. UK researchers said psychotherapy could reduce anxiety and should be on offer in all hospitals. They are calling for official health anxiety guidelines to be drawn up. A team including researchers from Imperial College London and King’s College London said the symptoms of health anxiety were often mistaken for those of a physical illness and included chest pains and headaches that didn’t go away.
Even when a doctor offered reassurance that there was no underlying physical reason for their symptoms, patients continued to worry and look for a diagnosis. And this led to expensive and unnecessary medical appointments and investigations, as well as time off work, they said.
Professor Peter Tyrer, emeritus professor in community psychiatry at Imperial College London, said the internet had a part to play.”We suspect that health anxiety is increasing in frequency because of what is now called ‘cyber-chondria’.It is estimated that the problem could be costing the NHS at least four hundred twenty million pounds a year.
With over seven million people in the UK suffering from some form of cardiovascular disease, monitoring the health of your heart is at present a time consuming task that involves a forty five minute procedure in a hospital. Researchers at Caltech, Huntington Medical Research Institute have shown however that modern smartphones could now replace that process. The app utilises the smartphone’s camera to literally measure the movement of the skin on the neck as blood passes through the carotid artery.What they’re measuring is something known as the left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). When the heart is healthy the LVEF ranges from fifty to seventy percent. However a weaker heart is unable to pump as much blood, so the LVEF value is much much lower. LVEF is a key measure of a person’s heart health so the implications for making this test quick and easy are huge.
With a proven clinical trial under their belt, the team have now founded a startup called Avicena which has licensed the technology and the team are hoping to market the app as soon as possible. To test their app the team conducted trials with seventy two people between the ages of twenty and ninety two at an outpatient magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) facility. MRI is considered the best way to measure a person’s LVEF but it’s seldom used thanks to its high cost and low availability. Instead an LVEF reading usually taken through a process called echocardiography. This procedure is not without its drawbacks too as it requires not only a trained ultrasound technician but can also take upwards of forty five minutes.
New research indicates that stroke survivors should be closely monitored for cancer for at least eighteen months because they have double the risk of developing the disease. A study of three hundred eighty one patients who had suffered a stroke also found that in nearly two thirds of cases where cancer did develop, it had already progressed by the time it was discovered.
Doctors are not certain how the association between stroke and cancer works, but suspect that some strokes are be triggered by underlying cancers that have not yet prompted any symptoms.
During the follow-up period, seven point six percent were diagnosed with cancer, most frequently of the colon, lung and prostate.This was higher than the expected incidence of four point five per cent based on statistics for the general population. Nearly forty five per cent of those who went on to develop cancer were diagnosed within six months of having a stroke, while sixty-two per cent were diagnosed with metastatic or locally advanced disease.
“Stroke survivors should be followed clinically for the development of cancer in the eighteen months after the diagnosis of stroke,” said Doctor Jacobo Rogado, who led the research.
According to The Stroke Association, stroke is the fourth largest cause of death in the UK, with more one hundred thousand incidents taking place each year and approximately one point two million survivors.