Australian Medical News Brief July 2016

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Welcome to Medshop Australia’s monthly series, News Brief, where we talk about what you may have missed. These are mostly articles we’ve posted in our social media news feeds. We consider them the most newsworthy events in Australian health and medicine from the last month. You will find links to the original articles. Let’s look back and review the top stories from July.  

Artificial Pancreas Becoming Available for Type 1 Diabetes Patients

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Image Source: smh.com
 
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, type 1 diabetes patients are on the cusp of receiving a revolutionary new treatment in the form of technology that acts as an artificial pancreas. Currently, those who are suffering from the autoimmune condition require up to 6 injections of insulin per day and regular blood glucose monitoring to stay healthy and enable their bodies to convert glucose into energy.
 
The system involves attaching a smartphone-sized device to the patient's belly that monitors their blood glucose levels. The readings are transmitted to a control gadget which is linked to an insulin pump that dispenses insulin dosages as required based on the individual patient's needs.
 
The device enables users to have their insulin levels maintained without needing to constantly perform finger prick tests and administer injections and is a big step forward for diabetes patients.
 

Study Shows Butter is Okay for Health After all

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Image Source: Australian Network News.com
 
As reported by the Australian Network News, health science researchers from the Tufts University have combined research from several studies with a total of 636,151 participants to examine the effects that eating butter has in relation to developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. On average, the participants ate from 1/3 or a serving of butter to 3.2 servings of butter daily.
 
Researchers found that while the participants who ate butter generally had worse diets and lifestyles that people who chose not to eat butter. There was no significant correlation or evidence to suggest that the consumption of butter itself was a factor in the development of cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes.
So butter is back on the table, however, it is confirmed that there are still healthier alternatives to butter including nut-based spreads, olive oil based spreads and canola-based spreads.
 

Should Healthy People Still get Regular Check-Ups?

 
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Image Source: Lifehacker.com.au
 
As reported by Lifehacker Australia, we are all familiar with the general adage that you should visit your GP once a year for an annual check-up, but is it actually worthwhile if you are already healthy? Obviously, people with ongoing health conditions or people who need medication repeats will need to make regular visits to their GP but what about those people with no ongoing health conditions or medication requirements?
 
The advice that Lifehacker gives is to make sure you are up to date with all of your immunisations and screenings and go and see a health professional if you are not. It is also advised to see your GP if you are generally healthy, but struggling with any form of lifestyle, diet or exercise plan. A medical professional can give you specialised guidance and support in meeting your health goals.
 
So overall, annual checkups are recommended, but individual health requirements vary and it ultimately comes down to individual discretion. Go see a health professional if you are not sure.
 

New Medical Technologies Worth Watching

 
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Image Source: Wall Street Journal.com
 
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, whether you are looking to buy stocks or just interested in the technological advances within the healthcare sphere, here are some exciting new developments. A couple of examples from the article include engineered blood vessels designed for patients undergoing kidney dialysis, made possible by the advances made growing human tissue in labs.
 
Another example is neuromodulation, using advanced forms of electrical stimulation to treat inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and Crohn's disease by stimulating the Vagus nerve, dubbed as being like a pacemaker for the immune system.
 
These exciting developments and more demonstrate the groundbreaking advances in health care, made possible by the expansion of technological research.
 

How Dogs are Able to Detect Diabetes

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Image Source: CNN.com
 
As reported by CNN, medical alert assistance dogs are being trained to sniff out episodes of hypoglycemia in patients with diabetes. The research is being led by Cambridge University, where they have been exploring the chemical changes emitted through a patient's breath at the time leading up to an episode of hypoglycemia. The chemical isoprene is one of the chemicals released during the early stages of hypoglycemia and while it is undetectable to humans, dogs are able to easily identify the presence of isoprene in a patient's breath.
 
Medical alert assistance dogs are being trained and assigned to patients to warn them when they need to increase their blood sugar levels before the patients themselves become aware of any symptoms. This research is also opening up the prospect of creating a breathalyser test for patients to determine low blood sugar, which will provide an alternative to regular finger prick testing.
 
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