Februrary in a Nutshell

 

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Here is our round-up of five newsworthy stories for February 2018. Please click on the arrows on each side to navigate. Enjoy!

 

Malaysia's Smart Stethoscope

Stethee is the world’s first artificial intelligence-enabled stethoscope system, proudly made in Malaysia for the global market.


An improvement over the traditional stethoscope, Stethee allows for a more detailed and accurate examination of the respiratory and cardiovascular system. This device can record and build a personalised biometric signature for each patient using Bluetooth, a cross-platform protocol that works on many devices.


Stethee uses the Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (AIDA) platform to collect related data about the environment, providing clinicians with valuable quantitative data

Improved Vaginal Mesh Implant

Vaginal mesh implants are commonly used to prevent pelvic organ prolapse in women who have just given birth. Their use is controversial, given the severe possible side effects – such as inflammation and infection – caused by plastic meshes.


Now, University of Sheffield scientists have developed a flexible implant, which they claim is more durable and less likely to cause inflammation. Their findings are published in the Journal of Neurourology and Urodynamics.


Besides closely resembling human tissue, this polyurethane implant can be infused with oestrogen to promote wound healing. It is also more durable than existing models.


However, more tests on safety and efficacy are needed before the new mesh will be allowed for use in patients. NICE recently declared that evidence surrounding the use of mesh implants in organ prolapse is lacking. Doubts also remain regarding the safety of the material, which is derived from plastic.

Flu Season

The UK faces its worst flu season in seven years. All parts of the country are seeing increases in suspected flu cases since the start of 2018. Nonetheless, it is not an epidemic and the rate of increase is slowing down.


Of the four circulating strains, the ‘B’ strain is responsible for roughly half of the hospital cases. It does not normally cause widespread severe infection.


Flu is especially unpleasant for certain demographics, such as the pregnant and elderly. Besides good hygiene practices, getting the flu vaccine can help protect against infection.


The NHS is working hard to cope with the spike in admissions due to the increase in flu infections. Officials expect to see an increase in illnesses with the coming drop in temperature.

Sepsis

Sepsis is one of the most-feared complications of infection. Dr. Paul Marik, a doctor at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, believes that an infusion of Vitamin C may be an effective treatment against sepsis. A retrospective study published by the American College of Chest Physicians seems to support his claims of its efficacy.


Given the lack of larger studies, many doctors are critical of Dr Marik’s decision to continue prescribing Vitamin C for sepsis. Dr. David Carlbom, associate professor of pulmonary critical care at the University of Washington, also raised questions about the aforementioned study, citing small sample size and the fact that all cases came from a single hospital.

Something Fishy?

The belief that fish oils are a panacea for all sort of ailments is not new, dating as far back as the 18th century. However, many people who take it do not know why they do so, according to Dr. R. Preston Mason of Harvard Medical School.


DHA and EPA, long-chained omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids important in brain cell communication, are abundant chemicals in fish oil.


Perhaps the most damning evidence comes from a meta-analysis in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Cardiology. Pooled evidence from ten randomised controlled trials revealed that omega-3 fatty acids do not help in preventing cardiovascular disease. There is also evidence that overconsumption may cause bleeding, altered immune function and liver damage.


Experts recommend a healthy diet rich in fatty fish and an active lifestyle as safer, more effective measures to maintain cardiovascular health.

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