The benefits of Ai in Healthcare
June 3, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

How Ai is delivering transformational benefits in healthcare

The word “artificial intelligence” or Ai immediately connotes the future. It implies a world where machines converse with one another within an ecosystem that transforms the way we live and function in our day-to-day lives. Manufacturing robots, bot nurses, smart assistants, robotic vacuum machines, Alexa, Google Home, the list is endless. In short, Ai is becoming and will eventually become an integral part of our existence.

Ai in healthcare has made similar strides, helping to create a robust ecosystem where doctors, specialist, radiologists, laboratories can function efficiently and with clarity. The enormous benefits that Ai in healthcare has demonstrated points to significant transformations in healthcare delivery that is built around the concept of “patient first. From robotic-assisted surgery, Ai-based image screening to hospital management, Ai in healthcare is rapidly raising the bar to meet the ever-increasing demand for a holistic, quality healthcare experience.

Globally, the market size of Ai in healthcare is expected to grow from USD 4.9 billion (2020) to USD 45.2 billion by 2026 with a CAGR of 44.9% during the forecast period! This rapid growth is spurred by several factors in the healthcare segment itself – widening gap between healthcare providers to the patient ratio, humungous amount of healthcare data that needs to be processed quickly and efficiently, escalating healthcare costs, need for speed, rising research costs in drug development and the overall need for improvised healthcare services.

Here are some Ai-driven advantages

  • Escalating healthcare costs? Ai to the rescue!

Everyone today is reeling under the escalating costs of healthcare.  Here is where adopting Ai into the healthcare system can help cut down the costs to a large extent and deliver the much-needed value to the patient. In addition, it also lightens the burden on hospitals and healthcare institutions in terms of overheads, operational costs and streamlining processes. 

Ai algorithms make healthcare processes faster, at a fraction of the original cost. For example, the identification of biomarkers can pick out potential threat of diseases in our bodies, which means we can save a lot of lives by simply acting faster and with better clarity. Ai has also helped laboratories arrive at an almost zero-error diagnosis compared to traditional methods. Prediction-based results based on personal information have given doctors and specialists a powerful tool to arrive at an enhanced treatment plan and put patients on the road to recovery faster. This also implies lesser trips for the patient for laboratory tests and doctor consultations, all of which are major cost-saving measures.

  • Robotic-assisted surgery – A surgeon’s infallible support

Today more and more complex surgeries are relying on robotic support to achieve 100% accuracy.  Ai has enabled a significant leap in robotic applications in surgery. 

Thanks to robotic aided surgeries, complex operations can be carried out with significantly lowered risks and lesser side effects. For example, patients waiting to be operated undergo Antibacterial Nanorobots to eliminate all blood infections before surgery! Besides, robotic-assisted surgery delivers the advantages of minimalizing blood loss during surgery and lowering the pain making post-surgery recovery faster for the patient. 

  • Gaps in patient care? Enter the nurse bot

With the increasing demand for healthcare support staff and the ever-widening gap between the availability of quality nurses and post-recovery patient care, healthcare institutions often run into a wall when it comes to delivering holistic patient care. This is where robots can now assist patients along with nurses and medical staff. Many robots, through machine learning implementation, are also capable of performing daily nursing tasks. These “conversational” robots are programmed to take blood sugar readings, check blood pressure, take the patient’s temperature and even monitoring taking the prescribed pills and medication. In fact, some of these nurse bots, as they are called, are programmed to offer mental empathy and support for post-surgical patients making the healing process faster and better.

  • Ai-based health screening – Early detection and faster recovery

Health screenings have reached the next level in enabling a complete picture of health for the patients. These scans not only give the whole picture but provide the much-needed clarity in terms of a patient’s general state of health of his or her internal organs. By slicing through any ambiguity, Ai-based image screenings help radiologists, doctors and specialists arrive at quicker and accurate findings and draw out a holistic recovery plan for the patients. Moreover, these screenings are faster and less painful (especially scans like mammography) and more important are very low on radiation while high on accuracy. Patients also have the advantage of easy access to their digital records, often as fast as collecting them on checkout itself!  

Ai-driven tools also collect valuable patient data, helping healthcare professions carry out a comparative health assessment on the previous and present health condition of patients. Since the images provided clarity and 100% accuracy, doctors and specialists are able to arrive at a clear diagnosis and in instances, even predict potential health issues the patient may face in the future. Hence, other than earlier detection and speedier recovery, Ai can also show the road to a healthier way of life.

Without a doubt, Ai and robotics can bring about a transformation in healthcare, creating a mutually beneficial ecosystem. The Internet of Medical Things is the way forward where healthcare professionals, support staff, hospital systems and above all the patient can look forward to reaping the unlimited possibilities towards leading healthy lives.

How Artificial Intelligence is shaping the future of healthcare
June 3, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

Today, digital tools are the norm in every facet of life. A step forward from this is artificial intelligence or Ai as it is popularly known. The potential of Ai in transforming the manner in which we function as human beings is phenomenal. IoT and other machine learning solutions are pointers to this fact. 

Healthcare is no different. For instance, robotic-assisted surgery has upped the curve in patient recovery and considerably reduced surgery risks. Medical diagnosis and the science of medicine itself has leapfrogged, thanks to Ai that has broken hitherto existing limitations and has given laboratories, radiologists, pathologists, doctors and specialists a new and powerful way of arriving at accurate diagnosis and subsequently chalking out a recovery plan for patients with clarity and better outcomes. 

Added to this is the demand for healthcare professionals across the world. With an increasing shortage of practising doctors and support healthcare professionals, many healthcare institutions and hospitals are constantly firefighting to bridge the demand-supply gap of quality healthcare services and increasing patient expectations for holistic healthcare delivery. Today more than ever, the healthcare segment is realizing the importance of Ai powered tools and technology to bring about significant transformations.

It is estimated that Ai applications can cut annual healthcare costs in the USA by $150 billion by 2026. This is because an Ai- based healthcare approach enables a significant change in the healthcare model from a reactive to a proactive approach. Better clarity and early diagnosis imply higher patient recovery, fewer hospitalizations, fewer doctor visits and significant cost savings for treatments. Besides, Ai powered technology in healthcare plays an important role in ensuring people stay healthy by developing a culture of continuous screening, monitoring, arriving at informed decisions through insightful patient data and quick follow-ups.

A 2018 report by Accenture mentioned the core areas where healthcare will be utilizing Ai technology. These included connected machines, reduction of dosage error and cybersecurity. A 2019 Mckinsey report identifies important areas as connected and cognitive devices, targeted personalized medicine, robotics-assisted surgery and electroceuticals. 

Precision Medicine – Putting the patient first

Ai can be a valuable contributor in the area of precision medicine. This implies customized healthcare interventions to patients or groups of patients based on insightful data collected in terms of disease profile, diagnostic/prognostic information, history, treatment response etc.  

The Ai insights will also consider information regarding the patient’s gene pool – race, family history, immune profile, environment vulnerability etc. With such a wealth of patient data, doctors now can tailor-make more precise patient recovery and care. In addition, precision medicine also implies reduced healthcare costs, minimizing adverse drug reactions and also choosing optimized treatment options that favour the patient’s recovery and subsequent wellness. 

Deep learning Ai for image analysis 

Especially in the area of health screening, Ai-led technology is fast becoming the screening of choice, paving the way for clear, accurate and speedy screening reports and analysis. Manual tools can be inconsistent and there is always human error in reading and interpreting these images due to lack of clarity or other technical issues. Ai models in health screening have the capability to improve prognosis, diagnostics and even plan enhanced patient care. Moreover, since Ai- based image screening enables early detection of critical illnesses like cancer and other lifestyle diseases, the patient can be put on the path of recovery sooner.

With the increasing inclusion of Ai in healthcare, there are efforts to develop a technology platform that will harness intelligent automation in such a manner so as to minimize errors, reduce screening procedures, improve diagnosis and the overall patient experience.  One of the many advantages that an Ai based screening can offer is the collection of relevant patient data and track every individual’s screening process. 

Notifications on the next screening if required or reminders of annual health screening can create a holistic ecosystem wherein the patient, screening centres, hospitals and specialists work in sync to deliver the best care to the patient. 

Ai is the next level in healthcare

As healthcare mechanisms worldwide strive to optimize patient treatment and care, Ai has arrived with its caravan of immense possibilities. The world over, several Ai solutions have begun making headway and transforming the very approach to healthcare. Ai is significantly reducing errors and saving lives. It is also paving the way for better patient experience and care. 

Solutions like PathAI (machine learning technology to assist pathologists for more accurate cancer diagnosis), Buoy Health (an intelligent symptom checker through a chatbot), Enlitic (medical tools to streamline radiology diagnosis through deep learning), Freenome (earlier cancer detection with Ai) are a few examples.

The Ai sector was valued at $600 million in 2014 and is estimated to reach $150 million by 2026. In the healthcare segment, the application of Ai is limitless. From discovering links between genetic codes, surgical robots, maximizing hospital efficiency, accurate health screenings, early disease detection, minimizing errors and even bringing down the cost of new drug discovery to develop next-generation medicines, Ai in healthcare is here to stay. 

The good news is we can rely on this extremely intelligent entity, albeit artificial, to grant us healthier, happier lives.

Why Mammography is important for women after 40?
June 3, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

Over 40? What you should know about Mammography

Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women today. Moreover, it has been noticed that incidence of breast cancer in women increases substantially around the age of 40, which is twice the number as compared to women between 35 to 39 years. While this may look alarming, one of the ways to ensure a healthy future for women above 40 is mammography at least once a year. 

It is recommended that women at normal risk for breast cancer should get yearly mammograms after they are 40 years and each other year beginning at age 55.

Regular screening can significantly bring down the mortality due to breast cancer in women. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) acknowledges an increase in the total number of lives saved and years added to life in women who make mammography screening a mandatory part of their annual health check-up. 

What is Mammography?

Mammography involves using a screening tool called a mammogram to eliminate/detect breast cancer and other breast diseases. It is both a diagnostic and screening tool. Along with regular clinical exams, mammograms are key to detecting breast cancer.

Today, the medical technology behind mammographs has advanced considerably. Digital mammography and it more futuristic counterpart – 3D image-based mammography gives higher clarity and enables earlier diagnosis, putting the patient on the road to recovery. Screening mammography also identifies any breast changes in women who have no signs/side effects from the norm or display any breast variations. The objective of screening mammography is for early detection of cancer even before the clinical signs are visible.

The new-age mammogram equipment is designed with a “patient first” concept – to deliver a less painful, comfortable experience during screening, ably assisted by professional and caring healthcare staff.

Ai-based digital Mammography – A significant step in early breast cancer detection

While breast cancer screening with the help of mammography has improved the prognosis and contributed to a higher recovery rate due to early detection, sometimes the cancers have been missed on screening mammography and suspicions have turned out to be non-cancerous. In such a scenario, how can one be 100% sure? More importantly, how can radiologists and oncologists rely on a screening tool that will enable them to chalk out a diagnosis-treatment-recovery map for their patients?

The answer can be found on an advanced, new-age mammogram tool based on artificial intelligence (Ai). Ai-based algorithms in mammography screening are accurate, provide the much-needed clarity and pave the way for a much earlier diagnosis. The Ai image-based screening can recognize abnormalities associated with cancer and differentiate them from non-cancerous findings. Ai provides not only better and earlier cancer detection but also presents improved efficiency for radiologists. Ai images also detect breast density, can provide reduced image file sizes for improving cancer detection.

An Ai based mammography also provides clarity on the level of a woman’s breast density. This is a crucial piece of information since dense breasts are also considered a risk factor, especially for women with a family history of breast cancer.

An Ai based screening can also help reduce the review time of the breast images by identifying clinically relevant areas and showcasing the important features. Through a system of “smart slicing” and retaining critical image detail, the image volume is reduced by as much as two-thirds. This means saving radiologists and specialists one hour of screening results interpretation time on a daily basis! Moreover, since Ai collects all relevant data related to the patient (background, risk factors etc), it enables a more personalized screening plan for patients.

How does Mammography benefit women above 40?

  • Reduces the risk of breast cancer. 
  • Helps in early detection of breast cancer and enables higher chances of recovery.
  • Helps get insights about general breast health
  • When caught early, localized cancers can be removed without the need for breast removal (mastectomy)
  • When cancer is detected early it is confined to one area. There is a higher chanced of recovery and more treatment options to choose from.

A few things to keep in mind

Mammography can say your life. Early detection of breast cancer reduces fatality risk by 25% -30% or more. 

It’s absolutely safe. Mammography is a quick procedure and discomfort is minimal. Today with Ai image-based mammography screening, the experience is less painful and caters to your comfort throughout the screening. 

It does not take much time: A Mammography screening takes only 20 minutes. The entire process is comfortable and, in some centres, you can collect your digital reports on check out.

Choose the best quality: An Ai image-based Mammography will give you and your doctor the complete picture, enables early detection and complete clarity on your breast health. 

Do not use an antiperspirant or deo: Before a Mammography makes sure you do not use any perfumes or antiperspirant as this can interfere with the screening and not produce the desired results.

If you are a woman over 40 years of age, it would be a good approach to view Mammography as a friend at hand to help you live a healthy and happy life. Today, with advanced medical technology, the entire process can be reassuring, comforting and puts you on the road to health.

Simple ways you can live a long, healthy life like the Japanese
June 3, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

Japanese lifestyle tips for longevity

It is no secret that the Japanese live long, healthy lives. While the average life expectancy across the world is 72.6 years, in Japan it is 84.6 years. So how do the Japanese do it? Is there a formula or an approach to life that helps them live not just longer but healthier?

The fact is that the Japanese have imbibed a particular lifestyle as part of their existence. Maintaining good health is something that everybody in Japan learns at a young age. Japanese children are taught to eat a good diet, exercise daily and maintain good hygiene. Here are 10 tips from the Japanese which we too can incorporate for a healthier, longer life.

 

  • Balanced diet

 

While all of us know this, the Japanese lifestyle is built around it. You will find very few fast-food chains in Japan! Though some exist, they do not dominate the food options and avenues. Whether at home or at restaurants, the Japanese eat well-proportioned, nutritious meals. They respect the food of the land and pay their respect and tributes to the one who has prepared the meal. As such, there is a mindful and conscious way of eating that nourishes the body, keeping it healthy. Added to this the Japanese make it a point to always eat fresh ingredients. Seaweed (nori) which is an essential part of the Japanese diet is very low-calorie and high in proteins.

Tip: Split your meal into smaller plates (portion sizes) like the Japanese and you will be consuming a diet that is adequate and nutritious. The formula: One soup, three sides.

 

  • The philosophy of Ikigai

 

Simply translated, Ikigai means “the reason for being”. The Ikigai philosophy is ingrained into the Japanese way of life. Ikigai teaches us that life begins on a blank canvas and motivates one to find his or her purpose in life. It is divided into four core areas – a) what we are good at b) what we love c) what the world needs d0 what we can be paid for. This association with life purpose and mortality is found by researchers to increase longevity. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found a positive correlation between having a purpose of life and a decreased mortality rate. Generations of Japanese have believed and practised Ikigai and have been leading a sustained, fulfilling and healthier life.

 

  • Eat until you are almost full

 

Hara hachi bu – In Japanese, it literally means “eat until you are 80% full”. One has some room left in the stomach after a meal. This creation of “space” is very healthy for overall well-being.  This kind of mindful eating makes you conscious of the amount of food you are eating and prevents excess or overeating.


Tip: It will help to ask yourself before a meal “How hungry am I?

 

  • Forest Bathing – An excellent nature therapy

 

Shinrin-yoku which means “forest bathing” in Japanese is literally soaking yourself in the environment of a forest. One purposefully turns one mind into the essential elements of nature in a forest, heightening the senses to the nuances of nature – the smell of grass, the feel of the gentle breeze, the rustle of leaves, touching the barks of trees, feeling the warmth of the sunlight etc. It relaxes the mind and is equivalent to meditation. Forest walking is proven to lower blood pressure, lower cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase parasympathetic nervous activity which has an overall calming effect. 

Tip: If there is no forest nearby, you can try this method in any natural setting and it’s bound to rejuvenate!

 

  • Have strong social bonds

 

Isolation has a very negative impact on health. The Japanese give importance to and focus on building a strong social circle which is the reason they enjoy physical and emotional well-being right up to their old age! Most Japanese keep themselves occupied with work right past their retirement because of their emphasis on social integration.


Tip: Always make time to talk to family and friends and keep in touch in whatever way you can. Conversations and friendships are essential for well-being.

 

  • Culture of regular health screening

 

Other than following a unique approach to life, the secret of Japanese longevity also lies in their practice of regular health screening. It’s one thing to be health conscious but quite another to make annual health screening a part of our lifestyle. With regular screening, the Japanese are able to get clarity on their general state of health and also able to detect lifestyle diseases and critical illnesses like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and COPD earlier, which means greater chances of recovery and resuming a normal life.

Tip: Include annual health screening as a mandatory part of your life. Most of the time, prevention is the cure and earlier detection is the way to a healthier life.

Diabetes – The bitter-sweet truth
May 12, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

What is diabetes?

The disease has been called the “silent killer”. It refers to a disorder where the body does not have the capacity to absorb blood glucose resulting in increased blood sugar levels. Left untreated, diabetes can affect internal organs and can even be life-threatening. The World Health Organization has predicted Diabetes to be the seventh leading cause of death by 2030.

Diagnosis is a significant challenge: Across the world, one in every two diabetic adults is undiagnosed. To mitigate long-term costs, innovative methods will be needed to enhance early detection, screening, and diagnosis.

What are different types of diabetes?

Type1 diabetes: This form of diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is caused by the body’s inability to manufacture insulin. Insulin-dependent people with Type I diabetes need artificial insulin every day, to survive.

Type2 diabetes: The way the body uses insulin is affected by type 2 diabetes. Unlike type I diabetes, the body still makes insulin, but the body cells do not respond to it as well as they used to. Elevated blood sugar levels are the typical indication of this type of diabetes. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is also called “adult-onset diabetes”. This is because it occurs almost exclusively in middle and late adulthood.

Gestational diabetes: This form affects women during pregnancy, as the body’s insulin sensitivity declines. Gestational diabetes does not affect all women and typically goes away after the baby is born.

Pre-diabetes: The term pre-diabetes refers to blood glucose levels more significant than usual but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. On the other hand, people with prediabetes are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even though they do not have signs of the disease.

Risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus include: 

  • Lipid disorder: High cholesterol and triglycerides level
  • High blood pressure 
  • Obesity 
  • Gestational diabetes 
  • PCOS or PCOD condition 
  • Sedentary lifestyle 
  • Being over 45 years of age 

Fatalities as a result of Diabetes: If untreated or unmanaged Diabetic patients can slip into a diabetic coma. This arises out of complications of the disease. A diabetic coma is caused by dangerously elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

Low Blood Sugar: Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) is a potentially risky situation. People with diabetes, who take drugs that raise insulin levels in the body, can experience low blood sugar. Low sugar symptoms are as follows: 

  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating
  • Tingling lips and skin 
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Concentration problems
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Palpitations
  • Sudden anxiety

High Blood Sugar: Having high blood sugar daily or over a prolonged period will damage the nerves, blood vessels, and organs. It can also lead to many complicated health problems. Ketoacidosis, a build-up of acids in the blood, is common in people with type 1 diabetes. 

Very high blood sugar can lead to a potentially fatal situation in which the body can’t absorb sugar when you have type 2 diabetes or are at risk. The disease is known as a hyperglycemic hyperosmolar nonketotic syndrome (HHNS). In this case, you will urinate more often at first, then less frequently later. Your urine will darken, and you may become seriously dehydrated.

Other symptoms of high sugar level and uncontrolled diabetes are: 

  • Frequent thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Tiredness
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Breathing problems
  • Stomach ache
  • Breath with a fruity odour
  • Mouth dryness
  • A pounding pulse

How Early Detection Helps

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms, you need to be screened immediately. Some people may be asymptomatic – that is, they may not show any symptoms  – but have to get screened when they exhibit risk factors for diabetes. Early testing helps doctors manage the disease better and chalk out a line of treatment and health program and put you on the road to health and wellness.

Tests to Determine Blood Sugar:

  1. Fasting plasma Glucose Test: This test assesses your blood glucose levels after you are without food for at least 8 hours. This test is used to detect if the patient is diabetic or prediabetic. 
  2. Oral Glucose Tolerance Test: This test examines your blood sugar after you’ve fasted for at least 8 hours and have consumed a glucose-containing liquid for two hours. This test will be used to assess whether or not you have diabetes or prediabetes.
  3. Random Blood Glucose Test: Doctors recommend this test when diabetes symptoms are present, at any time, without waiting until the patient has fasted. 
  4. Haemoglobin A1c Test:  This is the new standard used as a screening aid or diagnostic procedure for prediabetes and diabetes. Usually, the system is used to monitor blood glucose regulation in diabetic patients over some time. Normally an HbA1c test is recommended by doctors once in 3 months to ascertain the average blood glucose levels.

If your HbA1c level is between 5.7 per cent to 6,4 per cent, you are prediabetic. This can be reversed with lifestyle and diet modifications. If your HbA1c level is above 6.5 per cent then you are diagnosed as diabetic.

Managing Diabetes

While diabetes is steadily on the rise and can present complications, early detection, proper medication & management and expert doctor consulting can help you lead a normal life. Usually, a doctor refers a diabetic to a nutritionist who will recommend a “Diabetic Meal Plan” adjusting calorie intake per day while ensuring daily diet incorporated vital nutrients and vitamins. There are diabetic coaches and nutritionists specially trained to help manage diabetes.

Above all, it’s acting in time and being vigilant that will help you manage this silent killer. Regular blood sugar screening, a healthy lifestyle and exercise can help mitigate significant complications. The mantra: Lead a healthy lifestyle and catch it early.

Cancer: A Growing Menace For India
May 12, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

On February 4th, World Cancer Day, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) provided voice and thanks to the nurses, physicians, researchers, volunteers, campaigners, and other oncology caregivers from around the world, as well as government departments, who have served through the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year.

In the face of the pandemic, the cancer warriors had shown exceptional courage and tenacity this year. Many initiatives call for free cancer screenings, fundraisers, awareness walks and rides, and civic lectures to establish successful World Cancer Day awareness. However, Cancer prevention plans conducted in a virtual or hybrid environment to substitute in-person gatherings were no longer be possible.

Growing Cancer Cases in India 

The ICMR  (Indian Council of Medical Research) and the National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, Bengaluru, have published a new cancer study that confirms the dramatic rise in India’s cancer cases, predicting that it will rise by another 12% in the next five years.

According to the National Cancer Registry Programme Survey 2020, men will have a cancer incidence of 763,575 in 2025, while women will have a cancer incidence of 806,218 in 2025. The study further calls attention to oral, lung, and colorectal cancers to be the most prevalent cancers among men.

Early Cancer Detection 

Another primary explanation for the sudden increase in cancer cases is the availability of an increasing number of cancer screening centres in Tier 2 and Tier 3 regions. Early cancer detection tests improve the odds of beating the disease.

A survey by the WHO states that India had an estimated 1.16 million new cancer cases in 2018, with one in every ten Indians experiencing cancer at any point in their lives and one in every 15 dying from the disease.

Socioeconomic Causes of Cancer 

The WHO report further stated that in India, a high prevalence of tobacco-related head and neck cancers, especially oral cancer in men and cervical cancer in women, predominate; both cancer types are linked to lower socioeconomic status. The prevalence of cancers such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer linked to overweight and obesity, lack of physical activity, and sedentary habits is also on the rise.  These cancers are more prevalent among  people from the higher socioeconomic status of society.

It has been estimated that about 5% to 10% of cancer cases are inherited. The remainder results from genetic variations that arise from incidents that occurred over a person’s life, normal ageing, and exposure to environmental influences like cigarettes, smoke, and radiation.

Tobacco-related cancers account for 35% – 50% of all cancers in men and 17 % of cancers in women. Primary treatment is possible for these cancers, and they can be managed to a large extent.

Steps for Cancer Prevention

  • Consume a good variety of fruits and vegetables and legumes, seeds, and whole grains.
  • Engage in physical workouts daily.
  • Obesity should be avoided. Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Adopt balanced sexual behaviours.
  • Tobacco consumption, like cigars and smokeless tobacco, should be avoided.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation.
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis B and HPV
  • Yoga and meditation can help in reducing stress-related cancer risk
  • Avoid or restrict your exposure to identified carcinogens in the atmosphere.
  • Keep on the lookout for early signs.
  • Get screened for cancer and regular health checkups. Make it a part of your health routine.  

Warning Signs of Cancer 

  • A new mass in the breast or variations in the breast
  • A change in stomach or bladder habits 
  • A sore that won’t go away
  • Unusual leakage or discharge from any of the body openings /orifice
  • Abnormal weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Trouble in swallowing
  • A visible development in a wart or mole
  • A recurrent cough or hoarseness of the voice

Fighting the Cancer Menace in India

A multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment and cancer detection test is critical, and it is imperative for all Regional Cancer Centers to enable this. To establish the most appropriate care, the presence of a qualified surgeon and a Clinical Oncologist is mandatory.

Given the high prevalence of advanced epithelial cancers in India, radiotherapy remains the mainstay of treatment. With the long wait times and distances that patients must walk to reach these medical centres, there is an urgent need to enable access to timely and effective treatment.

Patients in need of palliative and curative therapy must be identified at the beginning of the treatment schedule. Palliation may be accomplished with the least amount of machine time.

For cancer chemotherapy, an essential drug list must be prepared, and chemotherapy programs for common cancers must be made available in all centres. The Regional Cancer Facilities must be equipped with specialized equipment for high-intensity chemotherapy for the treatment of leukaemia and other cancers where chemotherapy is the mainline treatment. 

In recent years, many organizations have introduced new generation screening devices to combat late diagnosis. These devices use emerging technologies ranging from artificial intelligence, machine learning to thermal imaging and immunoassays with a common objective: To make screening more available and affordable to the general public in the country.

Cardiovascular Diseases: Types, Risk facts, Prevention & More
May 12, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

India is a nation with a very young population. So, it is of utmost importance that our country’s youth, especially those between 25 to 55, focus on cardiovascular health.

The diseases involving the heart and its blood vessels are called cardiovascular diseases.

Types of Cardiovascular diseases:

The form or function of the heart is affected by cardiovascular diseases. The cardiovascular diseases list is as follows:

  •  Coronary artery disease. It is also commonly known as CAD. The plaque build-up is present, and this leads to the hardening of blood vessels.
  • Atypical heart rhythms, or arrhythmias
  • Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism
  • Heart attack – Blood flow is blocked, cutting off oxygen to the heart.
  • Heart failure caused by the failure of the heart to supply adequate blood to the tissues to meet their metabolic needs
  • Heart muscle disease (cardiomyopathy) – The heart is abnormally thickened and enlarged.
  • Heart valve disease
  • Peripheral vascular is the disease of blood vessels that supply blood to the arms and legs.
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Vascular disease (blood vessel disease)

Risk factors for heart diseases:

  • Age

Age is a significant risk factor in heart disease development. The risk of cardiovascular/heart diseases increases with your age.

Ageing is also related to variations in the vascular wall’s structural and mechanical properties, which causes the loss of arterial pliability leading to coronary artery disease.

  • Gender

Women are at a lesser risk of heart disease than men due to the estrogen hormone’s cardio-protective nature. As soon as menopause sets in, the risk is almost comparable to a man’s.

  • Physical inactivity

Globally, insufficient physical activity is a principal risk factor for the deterioration of cardiovascular health. Physical activity contributes to weight loss and improves blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

  • Smoking

Cigarettes are the dominant form of smoked tobacco. Risks to cardiovascular health are not only from direct tobacco consumption but also due to passive smoking.

  • Diet

Regular eating of high-energy foods, such as processed foods high in fats and sugars, leads to obesity, affecting cardiovascular health. The quantity of dietary salt used may also be a significant causal factor to high blood pressure levels and overall cardiovascular health.

  • Alcohol

Drinking high levels of alcohol has a negative impact on cardiovascular health.

  • Celiac disease

Untreated celiac disease can cause irreversible heart damage. It usually resolves with a gluten-free diet. 

  • Socioeconomic disadvantage

Cardiovascular health is deficient in the low- and middle-income countries even further than in high-income countries.

  • Sleep

Insomnia has been related to a complex cardiometabolic risk.

  • Air pollution

PM2.5 is linked to thickening of the carotid artery and a higher risk of acute myocardial infarction.

Assessment of Heart Health (Cardiovascular risk)

Like a heart attack or stroke, present cardiovascular disease or a previous cardiovascular event is the robust predictor of any future cardiovascular incident.

Age, smoking, gender, blood pressure, blood lipids, and diabetes are significant predictors of cardiovascular health. Therefore, a heart health checkup should be done at least once a year.

You should visit your doctor for routine cardiovascular health checkup tests to detect cardiovascular disease in the early stages.

Prevention of cardiovascular diseases

About 90% of cardiovascular disease can be avoided if the following measures are practised:

  • Lesser intake of saturated fast: By replacing a portion of saturated fat with unsaturated fats or carbohydrates for at least two years, enhances heart health.
  • Discontinuing smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy diet (DASH or Mediterranean diet). 
  • Do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise in a week.
  • Consume alcohol within the recommended daily limits.
  • Lower elevated blood pressure.
  • Reduction of non-HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Lose body fat if overweight or obese.
  • Cut down your stress levels.

More about cardiovascular health

Medicines

Medication for controlling the Blood Pressure decreases cardiovascular disease in individuals at risk.

To prevent further disease in people with a history of cardiovascular disease, Statins are helpful.

Anti-diabetic medication may decrease cardiovascular risk in people with Diabetes mellitus.

Dietary supplements

Niacin, a type of vitamin B3, may modestly cut in the danger of cardiovascular events in high-risk individuals.

Magnesium supplementation brings a drop in high blood pressure if used in a dose-dependent method.

Cardiovascular Disease Treatments

Treating cardiovascular diseases can vary by the sort of condition.

  • Altering your lifestyles such as your diet, physical activity, tobacco, and alcohol consumption.
  • Medicines, such as the ones that treat blood clots, cholesterol, or blood pressure.
  • Surgical interventions include having a balloon or stent positioned in your blood vessel, coronary artery bypass graft surgery, or heart valve surgery.

Covid 19 and Heart Health

There is collective evidence of straight involvement of the heart in about one-fifth of patients affected by COVID-19. It is necessary to follow infection avoidance guidelines stringently.

Conclusion

The key to good overall health is to have sound cardiovascular/ heart health. It is imperative to visit your specialist and undergo heart checkups regularly.

Artificial Intelligence in Medical Imaging: A Game Changer
May 12, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

The very mention of AI or Artificial Intelligence in healthcare makes most of us picture a humanoid doctor treating us. So, how close are we to this scenario? Well, it seems we are almost there. 

Journey of AI in Medical Roadways: So far, So good!

Since starting from the very first AI project, the Dendral System in the 1960s to MYCIN in the 1970s, AI has never taken a back seat in the world of medical sciences. 

Today, in the 21st century, the epoch of all sorts of headways, you can find numerous research materials, applications, and even start-up companies involving AI in the healthcare sector. Medical imaging is one of the most promising domains in this context.

Decipher Volumes of Data like 1, 2, and 3 with AI

Images from various diagnostic equipment, including X-rays, CT-Scanners, and MRI apparatuses, are likely to comprise large amounts of heterogeneous data. The data load is such that it might be challenging for human technicians to evaluate all of that and deduce accurate outcomes. This is where DL algorithms come in.

DL or Deep Learning (a Machine Learning System) algorithms perform the following vital functions:

  • Select and derive various peculiarities of the images
  • Recognize and order different disease patterns from those images
  • Assist human imaging technicians in working out suitable treatment plans with other healthcare professionals involved in the case

Benefits of AI in Medical Imaging

Besides converting trillions of pixels into word format, AI is all set to transform the manner in which the healthcare industry operates. Here are some interesting aspects:

  • Increased Accessibility to Healthcare

Even now, many places in the world lack access to essential healthcare services. AI can reach those places where humans cannot. Soon, anyone with a smartphone can access medical care with ease. 

Ai offers a distinct advantage especially to people in developing countries and those working in remote locations. 

  • Improved Productivity and Workflow

According to an assessment, in the United Kingdom alone, at a given time, over 300,000 images, including X-rays and other radiographs, usually remain pending waiting to be analyzed by radio technicians. Sometimes waiting period is more than 30 days! Incorporating AI will help minimize delays in finding and working on these image screenings. 

As per GE Healthcare, more than 90% of data (healthcare) is from medical imaging. Ironically, over 97% of these images are unanalyzed or pending analysis. AI would not only speed up the process but make it zero- error efficient and robust. 

  • Increased Accuracy

Another benefit of leveraging AI has increased accuracy in terms of diagnosing various health conditions. Did you know that breast cancer makes the second-most prevalent cancer in women?  However, traditional mammograms fail to identify 1 in 5 cases. 

As per the American Journal of Surgical Pathology’s paper, LYNA, the AI-powered Lymph Node Assistant from Google can identify metastasis of breast cancer with 99% precision! On the contrary, human lab technicians miss this malignancy spread by 62%. So, you can see the difference for yourself!

  • Increased Prioritization

By incorporating AI algorithms into medical imaging, lab technicians can address time-sensitive cases requiring urgent medical assistance, for example, a stroke.

In the USA alone, over 800,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year! With AI, doctors and other healthcare professionals can identify such urgent cases and continue with the rest of the medical procedure to ensure timely and effective treatment. It helps doctors and healthcare professionals prioritize and enhance the workflow.

  • Increased Focus on more Imperative Tasks

One of the prime advantages of AI in healthcare is that it addresses repetitive, monotonous yet critical tasks while enabling doctors to channel their focus on their core competencies.

AI in healthcare is the way forward. With the numerous advantages it offers, it will not be long before every medical imaging device will be linked to the cloud-driven by AI algorithms that interpret data effectively and efficiently. AI will soon be an indispensable part of assisting healthcare providers in diagnosis and treatment. 

Conclusion

It is clear that artificial intelligence is a game-changer in the world of medical imaging. However, this does not mean that AI will replace human healthcare professional and doctors. One must understand that the underlying purpose of incorporating AI in medical imaging is to allow human technicians more room to direct their energies and experience to improve diagnostic outcomes so as to benefit patients at large. 

Stress: Here’s Everything You Need to Know
May 12, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

What Is Stress?

All of us, at some point or the other, have experience stress. When an emotional or physical tension is formed due to a perceived challenge, demand, or threat, it is called stress. It can be triggered by a variety of circumstances. 

When you feel vulnerable, your body automatically prepares itself for the perceived threat. A stress reaction is a normal response in the body. 

While stress is a consistent part of our life, understanding what triggers stress is vital. It lets us avoid stress-causing situations. However, the problem lies in the fact that stress is a habitual response to circumstances that we cannot escape.

Effects of Stress

  1. All stress is not bad. The purpose of our body’s reaction to stress is to prepare us for situations necessary for an improved health outcome (better muscle tension or a higher heart rate).
  2. Avoiding stress triggers and reactions will help retain your calm, provide immediate and lasting overall benefits, and prevent medical complications caused by stress.
  3. Each person deals with stress differently, so it is imperative to know that there are thousands others like us and each one’s reaction to stress is unique.
  4. Each person has unique stress triggers. The effects and duration of stress also vary from person to person. Do not allow someone to tell you to tone down your anxiety or tell you that your feelings are invalid.
  5. Exercising might be a great means for some of us to battle the effects of stress. However, some people may experience stress at the very thought of working out in the gym. So choose what best works to combat your stress levels.

Causes of Stress

  • Living through a pandemic
  • Having a chronic illness
  • Surviving a dangerous accident or illness
  • Being the victim of a crime
  • Marital stressors such as:
    • An unhappy marriage
    • An abusive relationship
    • Issues related to child custody
    • Extended divorce proceedings
  • Caregiving for a loved one with a terminal ailment like dementia
  • Being poor
  • Working in a risky job
  • Poor work-life balance, extensive hours at work, or doing a job you do not enjoy

Stress Symptoms

You might experience various symptoms of stress such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Gastric problems
  • Low sex drive
  • Eating disorders
  • Trouble focusing and making choices 

Physical Symptoms of Stress

  • Stress headaches

Also known as tension headaches, they are caused due to tense muscles in the head, neck, and face.

  • Stress ulcers

An ulcer is a sore on the inside layer of your stomach’s digestive lining caused by:

  1. Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers (NSAIDs)
  2. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections
  3. Rare cancers and tumours
  • Stress-eating

If you are binge eating in the middle of the night or eating way more than you used to, you may be stress-eating.

When you indulge in stress eating, you pile up on more calories, and you’re probably not selecting healthy food options. This might cause rapid weight gain and multiple health problems. What you must remember is that it does nothing to reduce your stress!

So, if you’re binge eating for stress relief, it’s time to opt for different coping mechanisms. 

Stress at Work

Work can be one of the leading causes of stress, which can be infrequent or long-lasting.

The importance of work-life balance is very significant. Maintaining good mental health is very important to prevent work burnout which can eventually lead to a breakdown.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are a lethal combination and can have a severe negative impact on your overall health and well-being. Physical symptoms of stress, likely to develop include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Panic disorder

If you are under high stress due to any situation in your life, seek medical advice immediately. Your doctor will be able to assess your physical and mental status and refer you to counselling if necessary. Especially, is you have morbid thoughts or intentions of hurting yourself or others in any way, get help at once.

Stress Relief

  1.     Deep breathing exercises
  2.     Meditation
  3.     Progressive muscle relaxation
  4.     Biofeedback
  5.     Listening to music
  6.     Mental imagery relaxation
  7.     Counselling 

Stress Management

Stress Management adopts a holistic approach to stress. It’s not about getting completely rid of it as a little bit of stress can be good and beneficial at times. In fact, “good stress” can improve cognitive function and helps you be resilient to face life situations.

Some specific behaviours as first steps in Stress Management are:

  • Exercise frequently
  • Aim for 7-8 hours of sound sleep every night
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Lessen your caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Stay connected socially to receive and provide support
  • Consciously take a  time out and relax

If you cannot succeed in Stress Management on your own or suffer from anxiety or depression, seek help from your therapist or any other mental health professionals right away.

Conclusion

Stress is something that we all face regularly. It affects adults as well as children. Intense stress is undoubtedly detrimental to your physical and mental well-being. Remember, always be mindful of your mental health. Prepare yourself and do not panic.

Luckily, there are many ways of stress management. These are effective for treating both depression and anxiety that may be related to it. 

If you are feeling depressed or suicidal, immediately call a helpline or visit your doctor immediately.

Catch the Big C Early! Benefits of Early Screening in Cancer Detection
May 12, 2021[DISPLAY_ULTIMATE_SOCIAL_ICONS]

Cancer is a cluster of diseases characterized by an uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells that can affect almost any tissue or body organ. Globally, cancer is the second leading cause of mortality. As per a WHO report, breast, cervical, lung, colorectal, and thyroid cancer occur commonly in women, while prostate, colorectal, lung, liver, and stomach cancer are common in men.

From an economic and emotional perspective, the burden of cancer is increasing globally with each passing day, exerting a substantial strain on individuals, communities, and healthcare systems along with the physical suffering it entails.

Approximately 70% of cancer deaths occurring in low or middle-income countries are due to scarcity of resources for cancer diagnosis and treatment. Early screening in cancer detection can diagnose the disease at an early stage, and accordingly, cancer can be treated or cured depending on the stage of the disease.

WHO considers the following stages of its Cancer Control Program: Prevention, Early Detection, Diagnosis & Treatment, and Palliative Care. 

Cancer detection usually has two components: Early diagnosis and screening. Early diagnosis aims to detect patients with symptoms at the earliest possible stage. Screening typically focuses on healthy individuals while there are no visible symptoms yet.

Early screening includes systematic application of tests in healthy individuals or populations to identify individuals with pre-cancerous lesions or very early stage cancers while the disease is yet asymptomatic. These identified individuals require further investigation and follow-ups. Mammography for breast cancer screening, Pap smears and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) for cervical cancer screening are few examples of screening tests done in women.

Early screening in a population can be through an organized program or an opportunistic screening. A scheduled program of early screening follows a protocol with predefined systematic approaches, while opportunistic screening is unsystematic applications of screening tests during routine health services.

Early screening is the right step

Over the past few decades, early screening of cancers has played a pivotal role in devising strategies for preventing and treating cancers. The American Cancer Society (ACS) has continually promoted early detection of both asymptomatic and symptomatic cancers. 

ACS recommends adults at average risk to undergo screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers; adults at high-risk lung cancers to undergo lung cancer screening, and men are recommended to undergo prostate screening. These screenings aim to maximize the application of evolving screening techniques and to design a blueprint for the future of cancer control strategies.

In regions with non-availability of early screening and detection resources, cancers are usually diagnosed at advanced stages where the survival rates are very low, and the treatment costs are high. Few other factors for late diagnosis include:

  • Lack of awareness.
  • Not getting appointments for diagnosis 
  • No access to adequate healthcare
  •  Complex nature of screening journeys.

Remember, “Earlier the better”. Studies have shown that most cancers are responsive to early detection. An early detected cancer treated with an appropriate regimen increases the survival rate beyond five years in comparison to late diagnosis. Early diagnosis has also been shown to significantly increase the quality of life (QOL) and reduce disease burden and treatment cost.

Range of Screening Tests

The screening tests range varies from blood tests to medical imaging to biopsy. However, the results are not always reliable and synchronized. These include invasive and non-invasive techniques, and some tests may even cause pain or bleeding (e.g. biopsy). Another limitation is that for few tests, the results are not readily available. In addition, there could be false positives or false negatives. 

Over-screening and associated exposure is another limiting aspect of early cancer screening. However, studies have shown that the benefits of early screening outweigh the risks associated with these techniques.

Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) had developed the theme of “I Am and I Will,” which intends to create awareness among individuals, communities, and government bodies for access to early cancer screening and detection programs.

It is important to be aware that we are custodians of our own body. It pays to be vigilant for any abnormality, symptoms or bodily changes that we may notice in the course of our daily activity. We also need to be more aware and educate ourselves about cancer, its detection & diagnosis, treatment and management. Early screening is the key. We also should take into consideration our risk factors such as family history, tobacco use, alcohol use, overexposure to the sun, our diet, lifestyle and obesity factors. 

Conclusion

With advancements in screening techniques and cancer therapies over the last decade, the chances of effective prevention have increased significantly. The adage “Early bird catches the worm”, works effectively in dealing with cancer. Early detection and its associated benefits of early diagnosis/screening and treatment will go a long way to increasing the chances of recovery. 

Studies show that screening increased survival rate, QOL while bringing down physical pain, emotional trauma and financial burden in the treatment. Let us remember, that when it comes to the big C, “Early Detection will lead to Prevention.”

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