Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Changing Attitudes toward Fibromyalgia

June 18, 2014

Fibromyalgia, which produces symptoms of chronic fatigue and aches and pains throughout the body, is an often-misdiagnosed condition. Yet, when identified and properly treated, it can be manageable and need not overly impact a person’s quality of life. One estimate by the American College of Rheumatology put the number of Americans with fibromyalgia at about one in 50.

In the 1800s, physicians first described fibromyalgia, which they called “muscular rheumatism,” listing it as a “mental” problem. At that time, the collection of symptoms indicative of the condition—aches, exhaustion, difficulty sleeping—had already been identified among its characteristics.

By the early 20th century, Ralph Stockman had conducted pathology studies that showed evidence of inflammation in the fibrous septa membranes dividing muscle tissue. At about the same time, Sir William Gowers coined the term “fibrositis” to describe the inflamed fibrous tissue that resulted in lower back pain for his patients. It was not until the mid-1970s that Gowers’ word was superseded by today’s “fibromyalgia.”

As contemporary medicine progressed and research better defined the parameters of the condition, fibromyalgia began to lose some of its unjustified reputation as a “mental” or “imaginary” disorder. In 1981, the reality of the tender points and other symptoms associated with fibromyalgia were validated through a controlled clinical research project. In addition, in 1990, the American College of Rheumatology published a set of diagnostic criteria intended to guide researchers. Physicians shortly adopted these standards in diagnosing and treating patients. In 2007, the Food and Drug Administration approved one of the several fibromyalgia-targeted drugs currently on the market


The Importance of Diet in the Fight against Obesity

May 28, 2014

Obesity, the presence of excess amounts of fat in the body, is a medical condition that can lead to adverse health effects, such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiac problems. More than simply a cosmetic concern, obesity can contribute to the considerable shortening of an individual’s life. More and more physicians are taking the initiative to engage in respectful dialogue with patients about strategies for maintaining a healthy weight.

Obesity can stem from or be exacerbated by any number of factors, including lack of adequate physical activity; a largely fast-food, high-calorie diet; pregnancy; certain medications; and even lack of proper rest and sleep.

While prescription medications and even surgery can be effective in addressing the problem of obesity, dietary changes and regular exercise often produce the most long-lasting positive effects. Most physicians and nutritionists believe that the best way to achieve permanent, healthy weight loss is to take the simple step of reducing the amount of calories consumed and increasing physical activity to an appropriate level.

Even moderate changes that result in small amounts of weight loss can show health-boosting results. For example, an individual who is overweight at 200 pounds and loses only 10 to 20 pounds can achieve noticeable benefits. People who obtain the longest-lasting results lose weight slowly and steadily, by about one or two pounds per week.

In addition to a low-calorie diet, a nutrition plan that focuses on eating significant quantities of fruits and vegetables is best. These foods tend to result in a full feeling throughout the day, thereby reducing the likelihood of people experiencing hunger pangs and the urge to indulge in unhealthy snacks.

An individual concerned about obesity should consult his or her physician or nutritional team, who can recommend an individual program of nutrition and exercise and discuss any risk factors involved.

Obesity – A Serious World Health Problem

May 13, 2014

The World Health Organization has called obesity an epidemic worldwide. According to WHO statistics, the number of people who die each year from complications associated with being overweight or obese is approaching 3 million. The problem is no longer confined to wealthier populations in the developed world: it has now become a matter of increasing concern among people of low and middle incomes in many developing nations, especially in population-dense urban centers.

In the WHO definition, the terms “overweight” and “obese” refer to an excess amount of fat that significantly impairs an individual’s health. The term “overweight” denotes a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater, with the criterion for being “obese” a BMI of 30 or greater. People who are overweight or obese are more likely than their peers are to develop cancer, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

Recent studies have found that the rate of obesity in the United States has remained largely unchanged over the past decade. While incidences of obesity in young children from the ages of 2 to 5 decreased by more than 40 percent over that period, the overall rates for adults have stayed the same, or even risen. Today, close to one-third of American adults, and more than 15 percent of children, are clinically obese. In addition, obesity rates for women over age 60, in particular, rose significantly during the period measured by the study.

Medical professionals point to a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, as well as moderate, regular exercise, as key components of a healthy weight-loss program for most people. In certain cases, medication or surgery can assist people struggling with obesity to lose weight when other means cannot.

Sorting through the Names of Flu Strains

April 30, 2014

In today’s world, we hear of new strains of flu every season or two: avian flu, swine flu, H1N1, H5N1, and a variety of other terms regularly make headlines. For the average individual, understanding and preparing to avoid so many kinds of flu can quickly become confusing.

The key to understanding a flu strain’s name is understanding the structure of its virus. Three categories of virus, designated A, B, and C according to their antigenic types, are responsible for the range of influenza viruses we see today. Types A and B are those capable of quick contagion in human populations, while type C may result in moderate respiratory symptoms without packing the force of an epidemic. Each flu virus comprises eight distinct segments, built up from single-stranded RNA and coated in proteins. These surface proteins assist the virus in latching on to a host’s cells so that it can begin replication.

Influenza virus strains receive names based on the type of the surface protein of each. “H” stands for “hemagglutinin,” and “N” stands for “neuraminidase.” Therefore, H1N1 refers to a virus with one part of each protein type. Hemagglutinin can exhibit 18 subtypes, while neuraminidase includes 11 subtypes. H1N1 and H3N2 are the two current “A” subtypes; they spread rapidly among humans through person-to-person contact. Other types tend to stay within animal populations. In certain instances, such as that of the dreaded H5N1 “avian” flu, the virus can leap directly from animals to infect humans. To date, researchers have found H5N1 to be fatal in about 60 percent of human cases.

Current nomenclature for flu viruses makes use of the following pieces of information: the antigenic type, whether A, B, or C; the host species if of animal origin; the geographic location; the assigned number of the strain; the year marking first isolation; and for viruses of the A type, the “H” and “N” designations, given within parentheses.

What You May Not Know about Schizophrenia

April 15, 2014

Schizophrenia, a chronic or recurring psychosis, is a severe form of mental illness most commonly manifested in delusions or auditory or visual hallucinations. The condition has received widespread coverage in the news and in popular culture, although much of this material has contributed to misconceptions among the general public.

Contrary to some sensationalized media portrayals, most people who suffer from schizophrenia do not exhibit violent behavior. Also contrary to popular perceptions, schizophrenia is not the same as the condition often called “multiple” or “split” personality, which psychiatrists consider a dissociative identity disorder. While the word “schizophrenia” comes from root words meaning “split mind,” it specifically connotes an imbalance in thought and emotion, rather than a true splitting off into various individually functioning personalities. In addition, not all people with schizophrenia present with the same symptoms; behavioral responses can vary widely from one patient to another.

Individuals with schizophrenia interpret reality in maladaptive ways. Most exhibit disorganized, illogical thinking and bizarre behaviors. Delusions may take the form of belief that one is being harassed or pursued, or that a major disaster or catastrophic event is about to occur. Patients may express their disordered thoughts in haphazard speech patterns, with nonsensical words strung together. Hallucinations usually involve the hearing of voices, although they may take other forms.

The condition is usually diagnosed during a person’s 20s, with initial diagnosis very rare in childhood or middle age. People with schizophrenia typically require ongoing treatment over the course of their lifetimes.

Several Factors Combine to Lift Biotech Industry

March 31, 2014

Last year saw a number of strong performances in the biotechnology industry as the sector benefited from several overall trends. In the past, many fund managers avoided biotechnology, as it requires specialized knowledge and a strong tolerance for risk. Managers fleeing a weakening mining sector and trying to dodge the falling price of gold, however, took to biotechnology in 2013, just as companies were posting startling gains.

Several small international firms saw their share prices rise by multiples of up to six, while others raised tens of millions of dollars in capital or successfully navigated initial public offerings. Executives with histories of success took the helms of several businesses, and in the fourth quarter, the biotech market rose to yearlong highs. In the United States, the market turned around after poorly performing for several years. Biotech companies able to find new funding in 2013 did so on the back of prospects for treatments in a variety of areas, including Alzheimer’s disease, regenerative medicine, and infectious diseases.

What to Consider Before Seeking Venture Capital

December 2, 2013

Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald maintains expertise in several areas of finance, from direct investing to venture capital. Today, many entrepreneurs, like Dr. Lindsay Rosenwald, turn to venture capitalists for the money they need to realize their ideas. Before seeking funding, however, they must consider several factors.

First, entrepreneurs must have a clear market for their product and be able to demonstrate to investors how and why the product or service will generate money. Some ideas that sound great on paper simply lack a viable market, thus making them unlikely to receive funding. Additionally, the market must be large enough to attract substantial revenue. Venture investors typically look for markets of a certain size before they will even consider putting money into a new idea.

Entrepreneurs should gather a team of experienced, knowledgeable managers capable of developing the envisioned business, particularly when asking for funding at a later stage of the enterprise. When leaders can point to the past successes of team members and clearly spell out their contribution to the current project, they will more likely convince a venture capitalist to invest in the plan.