Healthy growth for health sector

Friday March 22, 2013 (Source: The Star)

 

Malaysia’s health travel sector generated RM571mil while exports of its pharmaceutical products earned RM562mil in 2012 alone, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

 

This was due to the Government’s efforts in promoting medical tourism through improved customer experience, proactive alliances and niche marketing.

 

“Through 13 Entry Point Projects (EPPs), the National Key Economic Areas for health aspire to contribute RM32.4bil to Malaysia’s gross national income by 2020,” he said at the Economist Conferences’ 4th annual Healthcare in Asia 2013 here yesterday.

 

Read more here.

Malaysia is now the fattest country in SE Asia, says Liow

Friday January 18, 2013

 

 

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is the fattest country in South-East Asia with its obesity rate on the rise, says Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

 

“This is not a glorious title. We are outweighing our Asean neighbours and number six in the whole of Asia – behind some Middle Eastern countries,” said the Health Minister.

 

Citing statistics from the National Health and Morbidity Surveys, Liow said 15.1% of Malaysians aged 18 and above were suffering from obesity as of 2011.

 

“This is an increase from the 14% figure of the same demographic in 2006,” he pointed out.

 

It was also reported that over 2.6 million adults were obese while over 477,000 children below the age of 18 years were overweight.

 

Read more here.

 

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. Sometimes these teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned, but more often, they are misaligned and require removal.

 

Wisdom teeth present potential problems when they are misaligned – they can position themselves horizontally, be angled toward or away from the second molars or be angled inward or outward. Poor alignment of wisdom teeth can crowd or damage adjacent teeth, the jawbone, or nerves. Wisdom teeth that lean toward the second molars make those teeth more vulnerable to decay by entrapping plaque and debris. In addition, wisdom teeth can be entrapped completely within the soft tissue and/or the jawbone or only partially break through or erupt through the gum. Teeth that remain partially or completely entrapped within the soft tissue and /or the jawbone are termed “impacted.” Wisdom teeth that only partially erupt allows for an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection, which results in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness. Partially erupted teeth are also more prone to tooth decay and gum disease because their hard-to-reach location and awkward positioning makes brushing and flossing difficult.

 

 

How Do I Know if I Have Wisdom Teeth?

 

Ask your dentist about the positioning of your wisdom teeth. He or she may take an X-ray periodically to evaluate for the presence and alignment of your wisdom teeth. Your dentist may also decide to send you to an oral surgeon for further evaluation.

 

Your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend that your wisdom teeth be extracted even before problems develop. This is done to avoid a more painful or more complicated extraction that might have to be done a few years later. Removal is easier in young people, when the wisdom teeth roots are not yet fully developed and the bone is less dense. In older people, recovery and healing time tend to be longer.

 

 

 

 

How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

 

The relative ease at which your dentist or oral surgeon can extract your wisdom teeth depends on their position. Your oral health care provider will be able to give you an idea of what to expect during your pre-extraction exam. A wisdom tooth that is fully erupted through the gum can be extracted as easily as any other tooth. However, a wisdom tooth that is underneath the gums and embedded in the jawbone will require an incision into the gums and then removal of the portion of bone that lies over the tooth. Oftentimes, for a tooth in this situation, the tooth will be extracted in small sections rather than removed in one piece to minimize the amount of bone that needs to be removed to get the tooth out.

 

 

What Happens During Wisdom Teeth Removal?

 

Before your wisdom teeth are pulled, the teeth and the surrounding tissue will be numbed with a local anaesthetic — the same injection with the same medication you would receive to numb a tooth prior to having a cavity filled. In addition to the local anaesthetic to numb the pain, you and your dentist or oral surgeon may decide that a sedative is desired to control any anxiety. Sedating medications that could be selected include: nitrous oxide, an oral sedative, or an intravenous sedative (administered via an injection into your veins). If nitrous oxide is given, you will be able to drive yourself home. If any of the other medications is selected, you will need someone to drive you both to and from the

appointment.

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Total Knee Replacement

What is a total knee replacement?

A total knee replacement is a surgical procedure whereby the diseased knee joint is replaced with artificial material. The knee is a hinge joint which provides motion at the point where the thigh meets the lower leg. The thighbone (or femur) abuts the large bone of the lower leg (tibia) at the knee joint. During a total knee replacement, the end of the femur bone is removed and replaced with a metal shell. The end of the lower leg bone (tibia) is also removed and replaced with a channelled plastic piece with a metal stem. Depending on the condition of the kneecap portion of the knee joint, a plastic “button” may also be added under the kneecap surface. The artificial components of a total knee replacement are referred to as the prosthesis.

 

 

The posterior cruciate ligament is a tissue that normally stabilizes each side of the knee joint so that the lower leg cannot slide backward in relation to the thighbone. In total knee replacement surgery, this ligament is retained, sacrificed, or substituted by a polyethylene post. Each of these various designs of total knee replacement has its benefits and risks.

 

Read more here.

Jet Lag

What is jet lag?

 

Jet lag, also called desynchronosis and flight fatigue, is a temporary disorder that causes fatigue, insomnia, and other symptoms as a result of air travel across time zones. It is considered a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, which is a disruption of the internal body clock.

 

 

What are other symptoms and signs of jet lag?

 

Besides fatigue and insomnia, a jet lag sufferer may experience a number of physical and emotional symptoms including anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, confusion, dehydration, headache, irritability, nausea, sweating, coordination problems, dizziness, and even memory loss. Some individuals report additional symptoms, such as heartbeat irregularities and increased susceptibility to illness.

 

Children can also suffer the same jet lag symptoms as adults.

 

 

What is a time zone?

 

A time zone is a geographical region which has the same time everywhere within it. The world has 24 time zones, one for each hour in the day. Each zone runs from north to south in strips that are approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) wide. (The actual width of each zone varies to accommodate political and geographical boundaries.) As the earth rotates, dawn occurs at a set hour in one time zone, then an hour later in the time zone immediately to the west and so on through the 24-hour cycle. Thus, in the U.S., when it is 6 a.m. in the Eastern Time zone, it is 5 a.m. in the central zone, 4 a.m. in the mountain zone, and 3 a.m. in the Pacific zone.

 

Read more here.

Pancreatitis

 

What is pancreatitis?

 

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large gland behind the stomach and close to the duodenum – the first part of the small intestine. The pancreas secretes digestive juices, or enzymes, into the duodenum through a tube called the pancreatic duct. Pancreatic enzymes join with bile – a liquid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder – to digest food. The pancreas also releases the hormones insulin and glucagon into the bloodstream. These hormones help the body regulate the glucose it takes from food for energy.

 

Normally, digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas do not become active until they reach the small intestine. But when the pancreas is inflamed, the enzymes inside it attack and damage the tissues that produce them.

 

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic. Either form is serious and can lead to complications. In severe cases, bleeding, infection, and permanent tissue damage may occur.

 

Both forms of pancreatitis occur more often in men than women.

 

What are the causes of acute pancreatitis?

 

Acute pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas that occurs suddenly and usually resolves in a few days with treatment. Acute pancreatitis can be a life-threatening illness with severe complications. The most common cause of acute pancreatitis is the presence of gallstones – small, pebble-like substances made of hardened bile – that cause inflammation in the pancreas as they pass through the common bile duct. Chronic, heavy alcohol use is also a common cause. Acute pancreatitis can occur within hours or as long as 2 days after consuming alcohol. Other causes of acute pancreatitis include abdominal trauma, medications, infections, tumors, and genetic abnormalities of the pancreas.

 

 

Read more here.

Orthostatic Hypotension

What is orthostatic hypotension?

 

When a person stands up from sitting or lying down, the body must work to adjust to that change in position. It is especially important for the body to push blood upward and supply the brain with oxygen. If the body fails to do this adequately, blood pressure falls, and a person may feel lightheaded or even pass out. Orthostatic hypotension is the term used to describe the fall in blood pressure when a person stands (orthostatic= upright posture of the body; hypo= less + tension=pressure).

 

Adequate blood supply to the body’s organs depends upon three factors:

 

1. a heart strong enough to pump,

2. arteries and veins that are able to constrict or squeeze, and

3. enough blood and fluid within the vessels.

When the body changes position, a variety of actions occur involving all parts of the cardiovascular system as well as the autonomic nervous system that helps regulate their function.

 

The autonomic nervous system can be considered to “run in the background” of the body, regulating body processes that we take for granted. There is a balance between the sympathetic system (adrenergic nerves), that speed things up, and the parasympathetic system (cholinergic nerves) that slow things down. These names are based on the type of chemical that is used to transmit signals at the nerve endings.

 

* Adrenaline (from the sympathetic nervous system) allows the body to respond to stress. Imagine seeing a bear in the woods; your heart beats faster, your palms get sweaty, your eyes dilate, and your hair stands on end.

 

* Acetylcholine is the chemical that is the anti-adrenaline and is involved in the parasympathetic nervous system.

 

These two systems are in balance, and yet need to respond to routine changes in the body that happens throughout the day.

 

* When the body moves to a standing position, pressure monitors (baroreceptor cells) located in the carotid arteries and the aorta sense a subtle drop in blood pressure because of gravity, which causes blood to flow towards the legs.

 

* Almost immediately, the sympathetic system is stimulated, causing the heart rate to increase, the heart muscle to contract or squeeze more forcefully, and blood vessels to constrict or narrow.

 

* All of these actions serve to increase the blood pressure so that an adequate amount of blood can still be pumped to the brain and other organs.

 

* Without these changes, gravity would cause the blood to remain in the lowest part of the body and away from the brain, causing symptoms of light headedness or even passing out.

 

Orthostatic hypotension is not a disease or a complaint from an individual; it is an abnormal change in blood pressure and heart rate associated with an illness.

 

Read more here.

Ultrasound

Introduction

While the patient’s history and physical examination are the building blocks of making a medical diagnosis, the ability to peer inside the body can be a powerful tool. Ultrasound is an imaging technique that provides that ability to medical practitioners.

 

What is an ultrasound?

Ultrasound produces sound waves that are beamed into the body causing return echoes that are recorded to “visualize” structures beneath the skin. The ability to measure different echoes reflected from a variety of tissues allows a shadow picture to be constructed. The technology is especially accurate at seeing the interface between solid and fluid filled spaces. These are actually the same principles that allow SONAR on boats to see the bottom of the ocean.

 

What is ultrasonography?

Ultrasonography is body imaging using ultrasound in medical diagnosis. A skilled ultrasound technician is able to see inside the body using ultrasonography to answer questions that may be asked by the medical practitioner caring for the patient. Usually, a radiologist will oversee the ultrasound test and report on the results, but other types of physicians may use ultrasound as a diagnostic tool. For example, obstetricians use ultrasound to assess the fetus during pregnancy. Surgeons and emergency physicians use ultrasound at the bedside to assess abdominal pain or other concerns.

 

A transducer, or probe, is used to project and receive the sound waves and the return signals. A gel is wiped onto the patient’s skin so that the sound waves are not distorted as they cross through the skin. Using their understanding of human anatomy and the machine, the technician can evaluate specific structures and try to answer the question asked by the patient’s physician. This may take a fair amount of time and require the probe to be repositioned and pointed in different directions. As well, the technician may need to vary the amount of pressure used to push the probe into the skin. The goal will be to “paint” a shadow picture of the inner organ that the health care practitioner has asked to be visualized.

 

The physics of sound can place limits on the test. The quality of the picture depends on many factors.

  • Sound waves cannot penetrate deeply, and an obese patient may be imaged poorly.
  • Ultrasound does poorly when gas is present between the probe and the target organ. Should the intestine be distended with bowel gas, organs behind it may not be easily seen. Similarly, ultrasound works poorly in the chest, where the lungs are filled with air.
  • Ultrasound does not penetrate bone easily.
  • The accuracy of the test is very much operator dependent. This means that the key to a good test is the ultrasound technician.

Ultrasound can be enhanced by using Doppler technology which can measure whether an object is moving towards or away from the probe. This can allow the technician to measure blood flow in organs such as the heart or liver, or within specific blood vessels.

 

Read more here.

Sleep

What is sleep?

 

There are over 20 definitions of “sleep” in several dictionaries. The first, a verb, seems most appropriate:

 

to take the rest afforded by a suspension of voluntary bodily functions and the natural suspension, complete or partial, of consciousness; cease being awake.

 

Physiologically, sleep is a complex process of restoration and renewal for the body. Scientists still do not have a definitive explanation for why humans have a need for sleep. We do know that sleep is not a passive process or “switching off” of body functions; sleep is believed to be important in many physiologic processes including the processing of experiences and the consolidation of memories. It is also clear that sleep is essential, not only for humans but for almost all animals.

 

The importance of sleep is underscored by the symptoms experienced by those suffering from sleep problems. People suffering from sleep disorders do not get adequate or restorative sleep, and sleep deprivation is associated with a number of both physical and emotional disturbances. In addition, sleep is influenced by the circadian rhythms (regular body changes in mental and physical characteristics that occur in the course of about 24 hours). These are controlled by brain neurons that respond to light, temperature and hormones and other signals and comprise the body’s biological clock. This clock helps regulate the “normal” awake and sleep cycles. Disruption of these cycles can make people sleepy at times people want to be awake. For example, travelers experience “jet lag” when they cross time zones. When a New Yorker arrives in Paris at midnight Paris time, his or her body continues to operate (their biological clock) on New York time. It may take some time (about 1-3 days) to reset a person’s biologic clock, depending on how much it has been altered by the time change.

 

There is evidence that some aspects of sleep are under genetic influence; a gene termed DEC2 is being investigated as causing people that possess it to require only about 6 hours of sleep. Researchers have only begun to examine the genetics involved in sleep.

 

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Healthcare boost for Sabah folk

Monday December 24, 2012

 

KOTA KINABALU: All five 1Malaysia clinics in Sabah will be open by the end of the week, bringing the total number to 23 statewide.

 

Assistant State Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad said the clinics located in Kampung Likas, Tanjung Aru, Kepayan and Telipok here and in southwestern Sipitang were in the final stages of completion.

 

She said this after officially opening the Kampung Likas 1Malaysia clinic yesterday.

 

“More 1Malaysia clinics will be built next year, including in Beau-fort, Kinabatangan, Kota Belud, Lahad Datu, Pitas, Sandakan and Tenom.”

 

Jainab said 1Malaysia clinics were not just being built in rural areas but also urban locations as many people there need access to affordable healthcare, too.

 

“Many are in the low-income group and they need help because of the higher cost of living.

 

“Such clinics will help reduce the financial burden of these people who include the disabled and single mothers,” she said.

 

Sabah Health Department deputy director Dr Jamail Muhi said that people would receive quality healthcare for a minimal fee of RM1, including medication.

 

Read more here.