Tag: reference

A Simple Technique to Reduce Light-headedness upon Standing Up

Light-headedness upon standing up due to initial orthostatic hypotension (IOH) is a common but poorly understood condition. A new study offers two simple  techniques to effectively manage symptoms of IOH and improve quality of life by activating lower body muscle before or after standing. The research appears in Heart Rhythm.

IOH is a transient decrease in blood pressure and increase in heart rate. Syncope, light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of consciousness from IOH, affects up to 40% of the general population (all ages), while presyncope is probably even more common. However, the condition is under-studied and there are very few options currently available to patients with IOH and no pharmacological treatments. The most common recommendations have been to stand up slowly or sit up first before standing.

IOH symptoms often present during an active stand but not with a passive tilt-table test, suggesting that a muscle activation response plays an important role in the pathophysiology of IOH. This muscle activation response refers to the rapid and excessive vasodilation that occurs in response to the brief lower body muscle contraction required to stand due to local mechanisms. Additional factors involved in this response include the increase in heart rate, initially due to the muscle heart reflex and secondarily in response to the arterial baroreflex triggered by the drop in BP as well as the increase in peripheral resistance, which is also triggered by the arterial baroreflex.

This study investigated physical manoeuvres before or after standing and their efficacy in reducing the drop in blood pressure as well as the symptoms typically seen in IOH patients upon standing. Study participants included 24 young women with a history of IOH. Two participants had inadequate heart rate recordings and were excluded from the analysis. The interventions tested consisted of lower body muscle pre-activation (thighs) through repeated knee raises prior to standing (PREACT) and lower body muscle tensing (thighs and buttocks) through leg crossing and tensing immediately after standing (TENSE).

The 22 study participants completed three sit-to-stand manoeuvres including a stand with no intervention (control), and two interventions. Researchers found that both PREACT and TENSE effectively improve the blood pressure drop. This led to a reduction in symptoms upon standing. They found that the PREACT manoeuvre accomplished this by increasing cardiac output, while the TENSE manoeuvre did so by increasing stroke volume.

“Our study provides a novel and cost-free symptom management technique that patients with IOH can use to manage their symptoms,” noted first author Nasia A. Sheikh, MSc. “Since it is a physical manoeuvre, it simply requires the lower body limbs, which patients can utilise at any time and from anywhere to combat their symptoms.”

Source: Elsevier

A New Understanding of the Fundamental Order of the Abdomen

Source: Pixabay

In a research paper published in Communications Biology, researchers from the University of Limerick have detailed the development and structure of the mesentery. In doing this, they uncovered a new order by which all contents of the abdomen are organised or arranged – or the “fundamental order of the abdomen”, where organs are in one of two compartments.

Professor Calvin Coffey, Foundation Chair of Surgery at UL’s School of Medicine in Ireland, whose major discovery led to the reclassification of the mesentery as a new organ in 2016, has published new research on the makeup and structure of the abdomen.

The importance of these findings on the mesentery and the impact these have on our understanding of the abdomen have been further explained in a review article just published in the Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Prof Coffey explained that his team have been looking at the development and structure of the mesentery since 2016.

“We showed how the mesentery is a single and continuous organ in and on which all abdominal digestive organs develop and then remain connected to throughout life,” he explained.

“These findings revealed a simplicity in the abdomen that was not apparent in conventional descriptions of anatomy.”

The international team of researchers used cutting edge techniques to clarify how the mesentery develops and the shape it has in adults.

Their work revealed that the organisation of the abdomen has a remarkably simple design.

“The abdomen is not the dauntingly complex collection of separate organs it was previously thought to be,” said Prof Coffey.

“Instead, all digestive organs are neatly packaged and arranged by the mesentery into a single digestive engine. That simplicity lay hidden until clarification of the nature of the mesentery.”

The model itself was described by the team in the most recent edition of Gray’s Anatomy. The supportive evidence was published in Communications Biology and the clinical importance was explained in the review in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

“The most important finding here was the discovery of the fundamental order of the abdomen. At the foundation level, all contents of the abdomen are simply organised into one of two compartments,” explained Prof Coffey.

“The fundamental order of any structure is of considerable importance, in particular when it comes to diagnosing patients with illness and treating their disease. The fundamental order is the foundation from which all science launches and clinical practice is based.

“The organisational simplicity of the abdomen now immediately explains the behaviours of viral and bacterial infections, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes and many others,” he added.

Improvements in surgery have been made to surgery by a better understanding of the mesentery and its functions, and the new research builds on those advances. There are also exciting areas for future investigation, according to Prof Coffey.

“Patients are already benefiting from what we now call mesenteric-based approaches to the diagnosis and treatment of most abdominal conditions. The Mesenteric Model of Abdominal Anatomy – or the description of the order of the abdomen – is being incorporated into numerous reference curricula at this moment,” he said.

“Regarding the future, it is being argued that we are seeing a paradigmatic shift from old to new order. Already, intriguing questions are emerging that we can call ‘legitimate or admissible’ in the strictest scientific sense. Science can approach numerous questions in a new light.  Clinicians can design diagnostic and treatment approaches based on a new foundation,” Prof Coffey concluded.

Source: EurekAlert!

NICD Warns of Malaria Being Misdiagnosed as COVID

Photo by Егор Камелев on Unsplash

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has warned that, as South Africa enters its peak malaria season, cases of malaria are being misdiagnosed as COVID. Both malaria and COVID have similar non-specific early symptoms such as fever, chills, headaches, fatigue and muscle pain. Undiagnosed and untreated malaria rapidly progresses to severe illness and can be fatal.

Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, principal NICD medical scientist Dr Jaishree Raman said that Gauteng has seen a slight increase of malaria cases recently. 

Dr Raman noted that COVID “has pulled resources from the malaria programmes, reducing active surveillance and case investigation, which is reducing the ability [to] classify cases accurately.”

However, the NICD does not know the exact source of the malaria. “Data cleaning and case classification is ongoing, so at the moment, we cannot say whether the uptick in cases is due to locally-acquired or imported malaria,” she said.

The NICD advises that any individual that prevents with fever or ‘flu-like illness, if they reside in a malaria-risk area in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga or have travelled to a malaria-risk area, especially Mozambique, in the past six weeks, must be tested for malaria by blood smear microscopy or malaria rapid diagnostic test. If they test positive for malaria, the patient must be started on malaria treatment, immediately.

The NICD also advises patients to remember to inform their healthcare provider of their recent travel, especially to neighbouring countries and malaria risk areas in South Africa.  

‘Taxi malaria’, transmitted by hitch-hiking mosquitoes, should be considered in a patient with unexplained fever who has not travelled to a malaria-endemic area, but is getting progressively sicker, with a low platelet count.

Source: NICD

New Guidelines for Brain Cancer Care

Credit: National Cancer Institute

New guidelines for managing and treating brain metastases have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and are set to improve care for cancer patients and extend and improve the quality of their lives.

The new guidelines come from an expert panel assembled by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The panel included a diverse range of top cancer doctors, as well as a patient representative.

The guidelines reflect the enormous advances in care for brain metastases  over the last few decades. In the 1970s, early attempts to develop guidelines largely emphasised steroids and whole-brain radiation therapy, without controlled, randomised studies to guide the use of surgery and chemotherapy.

Far more encompassing and far more evidence-based, the new guidelines will help doctors and patients make the best treatment decisions and achieve the best outcomes.

“When I started in this field 30 years ago, the average survival with brain metastases was 4 months, and most patients died from the brain disease. With improvements in therapies, fewer than one-quarter of patients die from the brain metastases, and some patients live years or are even cured,” said David Schiff, MD, a co-chair of the ASCO panel and the co-director of UVA Cancer Center’s Neuro-Oncology Center. “Equally importantly, the use of advanced localised radiation techniques and new targeted chemotherapies and immunotherapies have improved the quality of survival for most patients suffering from brain metastases.”

Up to 30% of cancer patients will have it spread to the brain, where it can be extremely difficult to treat. In the United States, approximately 200 000 new brain metastases are diagnosed each year.

The likelihood of a solid tumour spreading to the brain varies by cancer type, with approximately 20% of lung cancers spreading to the brain within a year after diagnosis. For patients with breast cancer, renal cell cancer or melanoma, that number is up to 7%. That is in addition to the patients found to have brain metastases at the time of their initial diagnosis.

Bringing together a diverse range of disciplines, the ASCO panel incorporated the results of more than 30 randomised trials published since 2008. The resulting guidelines cover everything from when surgery is appropriate and when and in what form radiation should be used to those circumstances in which medication alone may be employed.

The guidelines emphasise the importance of local therapies (surgery or stereotactic radiosurgery) for symptomatic brain metastases and lay out when these options are feasible. They highlight situations in which local therapy or whole brain radiotherapy can be deferred in place of chemotherapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy depending on tumour type and molecular features. They also lay out how, in many cases, doctors can avoid the cognitive toxicity of whole brain radiotherapy by using either stereotactic radiosurgery or hippocampal-avoidant whole brain radiotherapy with the drug memantine.

“Patients with brain metastases may initially see a neurosurgeon, radiation or medical oncologist. The rigorous analysis underpinning these guidelines will provide each subspecialist a comprehensive picture of the treatment options appropriate for a given patient,” Dr Schiff said. “The result will allow patients the optimal personalised approach to maximise long-term control of brain metastases with good functional outcome.”

 Additional information is available at the ASCO website.

Source: EurekAlert!

K-Wires for Wrist Fractures on Par with Cast

Photo by Cottonbro on Pexels

Using metal K-wires (aka ‘pins’) to hold broken wrist bones in place while they heal are no better than a traditional moulded plaster cast, finds a study published by The BMJ.

If the bone fragments in wrist fractures have displaced, they often require manipulation followed either by surgery to insert metal wires or plates, or a moulded cast as a non-surgical alternative, to hold the bones in place while they heal.

Surgery is expensive and carries risk for the patient, whereas a moulded plaster cast is cheaper but may not provide the same functional outcome.

To see which option is superior, researchers tracked the progress of 500 adults, average age of 60 and 83% female. with a displaced wrist fracture. Patients were randomly allocated to receive a cast (255) or surgical fixation with K-wires (245) after manipulation of their fracture. The primary outcome measure was the Patient Rated Wrist Evaluation (PRWE) score at 12 months, which included questions about pain, function and disability, and gave an overall score from 0 (best) to 100 (worst).

Secondary outcomes were PRWE score at three and six months, quality of life, and complications, including the need for later surgery.

Of the 79% of patients who completed the follow-up, no statistically significant difference was seen in the PRWE score at three, six or 12 months (average score 21.2 in the cast group compared with 20.7 in the K-wire group). Quality of life was similar.

However, one in eight patients with cast needed later surgery for loss of fracture position in the first six weeks after their injury compared with only one patient in the K-wire group.

Other complications were rare, with no evidence of a difference between the two groups (28 in the cast group compared with 22 in the K-wire group).

Limitations included the fact that neither the treating clinicians nor the participants could be blind to the interventions. Still, the researchers noted this was a large trial involving adults of all ages and the results are based on validated patient reported outcomes, reflecting the care provided across a healthcare system.

As such, they conclude: “Surgical fixation with K-wires did not provide better wrist function at 12 months compared with a moulded cast, indicating that a cast is an acceptable first line treatment following manipulation of a dorsally displaced fracture of the distal radius.”

They added: “Cast treatment avoids the expense and risks of surgical fixation for seven out of eight patients. However, careful follow-up is needed as one in eight patients treated with a cast required subsequent surgical intervention as the fracture reduction could not be maintained.”

Source: The BMJ