A guide to cardiovascular disease and a heart-healthy lifestyle

February marks American Heart Month, a time to celebrate cardiovascular health and focus on heart disease prevention. Heart disease has continuously been the greatest health threat to Americans and the leading cause of death worldwide. It is estimated that nearly 17.9 million people across the globe die of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), and roughly 48.6% of Americans age 20 or older have at least one CVD, including heart failure, congenital heart defects, stroke, or hypertension. In addition, it contributes to more than $320 billion in annual healthcare costs and lost productivity. Despite the stunning statistics, CVDs are preventable with a healthy Read More …

An Overview of Diabetes

Affecting more than 422 million people worldwide and killing over 1.5 million people yearly, diabetes is a worldwide epidemic. It is the sixth leading cause of death, with 80% of the deaths occurring in low and middle-income countries, and the prevalence of diabetes has been increasing at alarming rates. In the United States alone, 37.3 million adults have diabetes – nearly 11.3% of the entire population – and that’s not including the 96 million adults who are prediabetic. What is Diabetes? Diabetes is a chronic health condition that prevents the body from producing insulin or utilizing insulin, causing high blood Read More …

Health Literacy: How to Take Control of Your Own Health Journey

Only 12% of American adults have proficient health literacy skills. In order to understand why so many Americans struggle with health literacy, we must first learn what it means to have good health literacy. What is health literacy? Patients with good health literacy can make informed decisions to protect and improve their health. They know how to find, understand, and use health information and services to enhance their quality of life. This knowledge helps them communicate with doctors, fill out medical forms, select insurance plans, and understand the risks of procedures and treatment plans. Factors such as education, language, culture, Read More …

Multiple Myeloma in Your Marrow

A plasma cell, a type of white blood cell found in bone marrow, creates antibodies that fight germs and infections. But when cancerous plasma cells – called M proteins – crowd out healthy ones, it can lead to a cancer called multiple myeloma. Symptoms and complications of multiple myeloma Typically, there are few to no symptoms in the initial onset of the disease. However, signs like bone pain in the spine or chest, nausea, fatigue, frequent infections, or weakness in the legs can appear as the disease progresses. In 2023, the American Cancer Society estimated that 35,730 new cases of Read More …

5 Ways to Stay Safe in the Summer Sun

For many, summer is arguably the best season of the year. Beach trips, no school, vacation, and, of course, the summer sun. But with long periods of direct sun exposure also comes painful sunburns and damage from UV light, a form of radiation the sun emits that damages DNA in skin cells. Not to fret! You can still enjoy all summer has to offer with a few simple tips to protect yourself. Tip #1: Wear sunscreen! The FDA recommends wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Even on cloudy days, UV light can still damage your skin, so Read More …

An Overview of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious and greatly misunderstood condition. There is a high degree of stigma, controversy, and mystery attached to this condition, which is why it was only in 1980 that the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) recognized PTSD as a disorder. Although progress has been made since its recognition as a disorder, PTSD is still controversial in many spaces, and scientists and patients alike struggle with miseducation and dismantling stigma. Causes PTSD can develop in a person if they are subject to a “catastrophic stressor,” or exposure to an upsetting, traumatic event. Exposure Read More …

Chronic Kidney Disease: The Basics

Two small, bean-shaped organs – the kidneys – have a big impact on our overall health. They filter out waste and excess fluids and help regulate our blood pressure. When our kidneys gradually stop working, it can lead to chronic kidney disease (CKD). In this article, we will discuss what CKD is, its causes, symptoms, and ways to prevent it. What is chronic kidney disease? Chronic kidney disease is a progressive condition that gradually reduces the function of the kidneys, leading to a build-up of waste and fluids in the body. When the kidneys can’t filter blood as effectively as Read More …

About Hemophilia

In 1854, the son of Queen Victoria, Prince Leopold, died following minor fall. Leopold had hemophilia: a hereditary bleeding disorder in which the blood does not clot properly. In the 19th century, hemophilia was a misunderstood and devastating disease, and contributed to the deaths of people in all levels of society, including princes. But with his prominence in society as a member of the Royal Family, Prince Leopold’s death led to more attention to the disease and more research for a cure. Today, hemophilia can largely be controlled, and patients’ quality of life can remain high. What is hemophilia? Hemophilia Read More …

Lupus 101

Maybe you know someone with lupus, or you’ve heard celebrities like Selena Gomez and Toni Braxton share their stories and experiences with the disease. Lupus is challenging to diagnose, difficult to treat, and presents differently in each person. These facts make it an unpredictable and largely misunderstood disease, even though the most common type of lupus affects about 200,000 US adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also disproportionately represented in women, who account for 9 out of 10 diagnoses. While lupus and other diseases like it don’t yet have known causes, there are treatments to Read More …

COPD at a glance

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes breathing problems for millions of Americans. Not only is it in the top five leading causes of death in the U.S., but also it can be tricky to treat. Depending on the type of COPD a patient has, like emphysema or chronic bronchitis, it can cause damage to their lungs and obstruct their airways, making it difficult to breathe and participate in everyday activities. How does COPD work? Our lungs have tiny, elastic air sacs called alveoli. In healthy lungs, breathing in causes the alveoli to inflate, and breathing out makes them deflate. With Read More …

4 Benefits of Going Sober for One Month

After all the indulgence that can come with the winter holidays, it might seem like a good idea to get a fresh start in the new year. Dry January, a social challenge created by charity Alcohol Change UK, might be your inspiration to do so. The goal is to forego alcohol for 31 days, not only to “detox” from the holidays, but also to approach alcohol more intentionally. In the decade since Dry January was created, it’s exploded in popularity: A 2022 national survey suggested that up to 35% of US adults abstained from alcohol last January. But you don’t Read More …

Split Spine: Spina Bifida Explained

What is the most common, permanently debilitating birth effect? Affecting approximately 166,000 individuals across the United States, spina bifida, which in Latin, literally translates to “split spine,” is a neural tube defect that causes damage to the spine. The condition can happen anywhere along the spine where neural tubes do not close all the way so that the backbone does not develop and protect the spinal cord. Spina bifida causes disabilities that can be intellectual and physical and range from mild to severe. Referred to as a “snowflake condition” because no two cases of the defect are the same, severity Read More …

An Overview of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD), one of the most common neurological conditions, afflicts around 1.5 million people in the United States alone. More globally, it is estimated that that number grows to around 5 million people. Parkinson’s disease is a slowly progressing neurodegenerative disorder. It impacts the nervous system and can seriously influence one’s ability to walk and talk. Additionally, those with PD often exhibit behavioral and mental changes, sleeping problems, memory difficulties, and fatigue. The disease is usually seen in those aged 60 and older, and cases of PD are more commonly observed in men than women. The symptoms of PD Read More …

Take My Breath Away: What You Need to Know About Lung Cancer

With the rise of products like vapes and e-cigarettes, the warning of lung cancer is not unheard of to most teenagers. Lung cancer is the most common cancer across the world, and the third most common cancer in the United States after skin cancer and breast cancer. In a normal, healthy lung, air enters through the bronchi that divide into bronchioles that ultimately lead to tiny air sacs known as alveoli. The alveoli are the site for gas exchange where oxygen is absorbed, and carbon dioxide is removed. Different types of lung cancer affect different parts of the lungs, but Read More …

Spotting Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the unmanageable growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis, the skins’ surface layer. Mutations in DNA lead skin cells to quickly multiply and form malignant groups of tissue, creating tumors within the skin. While skin cancer is a relatively common illness, it has the potential to be deadly, especially when left undetected. Overall, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the United States than all other cancers combined, yet nearly two people die of the disease every hour. The only way to detect skin cancer is through examination of the skin, so it is essential to Read More …

The Importance of Healthy Sleep

Most of us perceive sleep as the one period of our day where our bodies, as well as our minds, are completely still and unmoving. When we sleep, we assume our bodies are completely at rest. This is partially true, as healthy sleep is an essential aspect of our rest and restoration processes. However, our brains remain active throughout our sleeping state. This active state is equally essential for brain function, to allow it to carry out the restorative and important processes that promote our overall health and wellbeing. Sleep impacts our mental and physical functions, our metabolism, and even Read More …

The Cancer of Connection: Sarcoma

Haven’t heard of sarcoma? You’re not alone. Although there are more than seventy different types of sarcoma, it is a rare form of cancer. Sarcoma is the general term used to describe cancers that form in connective tissues, which are the cells that connect and support other kinds of tissue in your body. Sarcoma most commonly appears in muscles, fat, nerves, or the lining of your joints, though it can also appear in other parts of the body. Generally, sarcoma is separated into two main types: soft tissue sarcoma and primary bone sarcoma, with soft tissue being more common. Primary Read More …

Virtual Reality Series: Using Simulations to Achieve Real-Life Benefits in Healthcare Part 3

Therapeutic Uses of VR Virtual reality has expanded the options for therapy through creating simulations that help patients overcome physical and mental ailments, making it easier for people to find methods of therapy that work with their condition and lifestyle. This last part of the Virtual Reality in Healthcare series will explore the types of VR found in this important healthcare field. Revisit part 1 in the series Introduction to Virtual Reality in Healthcare and part 2 Uses of VR in Medical Procedures and Education. Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Like surgery, using VR in physical rehabilitation was first explored in Read More …

Virtual Reality Series: Using Simulations to Achieve Real-Life Benefits in Healthcare Part 2

Uses of VR in Medical Procedures and Education Virtual reality helps medical professionals plan for and execute complex procedures, especially in the surgical field. This technology is being implemented in medical schools and surgical training programs so that the next generation of doctors can be trained in innovative techniques to prepare for their future in the medical field and the operating room. Revisit part 1 in the blog series Introduction to Virtual Reality in Healthcare. Surgery  VR has been used in surgical procedures since the early 1990s when technology was used to plan out surgeries and present complicated information visually. Read More …

Virtual Reality Series: Using Simulations to Achieve Real-Life Benefits in Healthcare Part 1

Introduction to Virtual Reality in Healthcare Communication in the healthcare industry can improve healthcare experience and outcomes for everyone involved. Whether it’s a doctor explaining treatment options to a patient or an instructor teaching a class how to perform surgery, medical work relies on clear and effective instructions. However, in situations when verbal explanations can be complicated or difficult to follow, how do we make information easy to understand? One technology that has cost-efficiently increased communication in clinical medicine by “showing” rather than just “telling” is virtual reality (VR). VR, also known as a virtual environment, produces simulations that help Read More …