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Medicine

All Entries Appearance Health Medicine

There’s a Little Zebra in All of Us

December 2, 2017

Nature has an interesting way of identifying animals in the wild. Lions have their manes, leopards have spots. Tigers and zebras have stripes. And apparently, so do people.

Blaschko Lines are common skin patterns that were first identified in 1901 by a German dermatologist named Alfred Blaschko. Over the course of years of examining thousands of patients, he often observed people who exhibited unusual patterns of stripes and swirls that encompassed their entire bodies. Some patterns were restricted to an arm or a leg. Other patients had stripes that ran from head to toe, beginning on their face, migrating to their chest and wrapping around their backs. He called them Blaschko Lines.

After a while, Blaschko noticed that virtually all of his patients that exhibited Blaschko Lines did so in very predictable manners. Looking like a pair of glasses that were painted on with ink, the lines began on the face, circling eyes and lips, then wrapping around the neck and the back of the head. They ran down both arms, legs and curved around his patients’ sides, much like tiger stripes. Interesting though, the lines never crossed the mid-section of his patients’ bodies. Instead, they met in artistic swirls, meandering in an “S” wave over the abdomen, an inverted “U” shape running from the breast to the upper arm, dipping down into a large “V,” before ending in the small of the back. After examining hundreds of patients with Blaschko Lines, he drew an initial, crude diagram of the patterns: read more

All Entries Health Medicine Technology

Medicine and 3D Printing

December 2, 2017

Imagine for one moment that you lose a button on your shirt. What do you do? If it’s a Land’s End shirt button, you’ll soon be able to print a replacement button on your 3D printer from the comfort of your own home – an exact duplicate of the button on your shirt when you bought it. Even the same color. But what if you need something a little more intricate? Like a new finger, coronary artery or an entire hand? Well, that’s not far away, either.

When dot matrix printers were invented in 1970, no one could conceive of ever needing anything more sophisticated than a crude printout of office memos. About the same time, laser printers wowed the computing world by producing slick, professional looking text and graphics by fusing powdered ink to regular copy paper. Even in color!

Fast forward to 2000, the first 3D bio-printer was invented by Thomas Boland. Bio-printers are a specific type of 3D printer designed to create and replicate human tissues and organs. Bio-printers work much the same as laser printers. However, instead of laying down a single layer of powder on paper, laser sintering printers create objects within an enclosed chamber, heated to temperatures just below the part’s melting point. A laser hits the bio-printing material, then fuses it with ultraviolet light. The entire process to create tissues depends on their complexity – from several minutes to several days. read more

All Entries Appearance Health Life and Death Medicine

Is Your Gray Hair Increasing Your Risk for Heart Disease?

December 2, 2017

Unless you’ve been sequestered from television news and social media, you probably know that heart disease is the leading killer in the U.S., responsible for killing over 800,000 people a year. That’s more people than cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined. Over 92 million Americans are currently living with some form of cardiovascular disease, to the tune of $316 billion in health costs and loss of productivity.

Common risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Hypertension
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history
  • Gender
  • Age

The newest risk factor for heart disease is gray hair. Yes, you heard that right.

Before you go running for a box of “Just for Men,” it’s important to understand that it’s still early – researchers are only beginning to understand the relationship between gray hair and heart disease; more specifically, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

One widely-accepted risk factor for heart disease is advancing age. Along with gender and family history, age is considered one of the non-modifiable risk factors. Almost from birth, coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart) begin to accumulate plaque, made up from cholesterol, fat, calcium and other material on the lining of the arteries. The result over time is a narrowing of the internal diameter and inflexibility of the artery walls. read more

All Entries Appearance Health Life and Death Medicine Technology Weight Control

Body Mass Index – Overweight or Overfat?

December 2, 2017

If you’ve recently visited your doctor, chances are he discussed a new term you’ve never heard of: body mass index, or BMI. But, what is BMI? And, how does it affect your health?

A Primer on Obesity

Muffin top. Love handles. Beer belly. Call it what you want. Most of us are familiar with the struggle of managing our weight. A 2007 survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that 63% of American men and women are overweight or obese. Weight loss has become a $20 billion industry, responsible for the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, the Atkins Diet, Nutrisystem and more.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease claims more than 610,000 deaths a year – that’s one-fourth of all annual deaths. While there’s nothing you can do about risk factors like advancing age and gender, other factors like living a sedentary lifestyle and obesity can be successfully managed and reduce your risk for heart disease.

As you gain weight, you put more stress on your heart in an effort to pump blood around to an ever-increasing body size, leading to hypertension. Weight gain is often associated with higher triglycerides, higher LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and lower HDL cholesterol (the good kind). Next, comes arthritis, joint pain, and the threat of stroke and diabetes. Eventually, you realize it’s time to make a change. read more

All Entries Health Home Life Medicine

Are Your Ears Ringing?

December 2, 2017

Years before they reach retirement age, senior citizens often begin thinking about the “golden years.” And, while they ponder heart disease, hypertension, arthritis and problems with their eyes, one particular disease often escapes their attention: tinnitus.

Tinnitus comes from the Latin word meaning “to ring or tinkle.” It’s a collection of symptoms of the inner ear, that’s often referred to as “ringing in the ears.” While ringing is the most frequently described sound, it can also appear in the form of swooshing, clicking, buzzing or hissing. Some people refer to the sound as music.

According to the Center for Disease Control, tinnitus affects more than 50 million people a year. For most, it’s usually an inconvenient, benign problem. But the physical impact of the disease can cost sufferers more than $30,000 a year in lost wages and health expenses. It costs American society more than $26 billion, annually. According to studies conducted by the United States Veterans Administration, over 970,000 veterans (one of the highest risk groups for contracting tinnitus) received treatment during 2012, at a cost of more than $1.5 billion. read more

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