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Autoimmune Diseases: Stop Self Destruction !!

In Health, Healthcare, Medicine on June 1, 2012 at 7:00 am

Have you been wondering why and how do people in 21st century get bombarded with diseases that  were never heard of ? People still don’t know majority of the very common diseases in the current world. Everyone knows Hypertension (High BP), Diabetes, Cancer, Heart attacks and few more. But you will be surprised to know the toll some of the Autoimmune diseases take.

Autoimmune disorders arise from an inappropriate immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body. In other words, the immune system mistakes some part of the body as a pathogen and attacks its own cells. This may be restricted to certain organs (e.g. in autoimmune thyroiditis) or involve a particular tissue in different places (e.g. Goodpasture’s disease which may affect the basement membrane in both the lung and the kidney).

FURIOUS FACTS ABOUT AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES


• The National Institutes of Health (NIH estimates up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease and that the prevalence is rising. In comparison, cancer affects up to 9 million and heart disease up to 22 million.
• Researchers have identified 80-100 different autoimmune diseases and suspect at least 40 additional diseases of having an autoimmune basis. These diseases are chronic and can be life-threatening.
• Autoimmune disease is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in female children and women in all age groups up to 64 years. of age.
• A close genetic relationship exists among autoimmune disease, explaining clustering in individuals and families as well as a common pathway of disease.
• Symptoms cross many specialties and can affect all body organs.
• Medical education provides minimal learning about autoimmune disease.
• Specialists are generally unaware of interrelationships among the different autoimmune diseases or advances in treatment outside their own specialty area.
• Initial symptoms are often intermittent and unspecific until the disease becomes acute.
• According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health, autoimmune disease and disorders ranked #1 in a top ten list of most popular health topics requested by callers to the National Women’s Health Information Center.

Examples of Autoimmune or Autoimmune Related Diseases

  • Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM). A form of encephalitis caused by an autoimmune reaction and typically occurring a few days or weeks after a viral infection or a vaccination.
  • Addison’s disease. A disease often caused by autoimmune destruction of the adrenal cortex.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis. A chronic, painful, progressive inflammatory arthritis primarily affecting spine and sacroiliac joints, causing eventual fusion of the spine.
  • Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS). A disease that causes blood clots to form in veins and/or arteries.
  • Aplastic anemia. A disease caused by an autoimmune attack on the bone marrow.
  • Autoimmune hepatitis. A disorder wherein the liver is the target of the body’s own immune system.
  • Autoimmune Oophoritis.  A disorder in which the immune system attacks the female reproductive organs.
  • Celiac disease – sprue. A disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the proximal portion of the small intestine caused by exposure to certain dietary gluten proteins.
  • Crohn’s disease. A form of inflammatory bowel disease characterized by chronic inflammation of the intestinal tract causing abdominal pain and diarrhea. There is also a theory that Crohn’s Disease is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis.
  • Diabetes mellitus type 1. A disorder  that is characterized by a deficiency or absence of insulin production (Type I). It is often the consequence of an autoimmune attack on the insulin-producing beta cells in the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas.
  • Gestational pemphigoid. A pregnancy-related blistering condition where auto antibodies attack the skin.
  • Goodpasture’s syndrome. A disease characterized by rapid destruction of the kidneys and hemorrhaging of the lungs through autoimmune reaction against an antigen found in both organs.
  • Graves’ disease. A disorder of the thyroid caused by anti-thyroid antibodies that stimulate the thyroid into overproduction of thyroid hormone. It is the most common form of hyperthyroidism.
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). An acquired immune-mediated inflammatory disorder of the peripheral nervous system. Also referred to as:  acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis, acute idiopathic polyneuritis,  acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, and Landry’s ascending paralysis.
  • Hashimoto’s disease. A condition characterized by initial inflammation of the thyroid, and, later, dysfunction and goiter. There are several characteristic antibodies (e.g., anti-thyroglobulin).  A common form of hypothyroidism,
  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. An autoimmune disease where the body produces anti-platelet antibodies resulting in a low platelet count.
  • Kawasaki’s disease. A disorder caused by an autoimmune attack on the arteries around the heart.
  • Lupus erythematosus. A chronic (long-lasting) non organ specific autoimmune disease wherein the immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal tissue. This attack results in inflammation and brings about symptoms.
  • Mixed Connective Tissue Disease. A disorder that   has features of other connective tissues diseases — lupus,  polymyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma, diagnosed by the presence of  anti-body U1-RNP.
  • Multiple sclerosis. A disorder of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) characterized by decreased nerve function due to myelin loss and secondary axonal damage.
  • Myasthenia gravis. A disorder of neuromuscular transmission leading to fluctuating weakness and fatigue. Weakness is caused by circulating antibodies that block (antagonist) acetylcholine receptors at the neuromuscular junction.
  • Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (OMS).  A neurological disorder that appears to the result of an autoimmune attack on the nervous system. Symptoms include  ataxia, intention tremor, dysphasia, dysarthria,  myoclonus, mutism, hypotonia, opsoclonus, lethargy, irritability or malaise. About half of all OMS cases occur in association with neuroblastoma.
  • Optic neuritis. An inflammation of the optic nerve that may cause a complete or partial loss of vision.
  • Ord’s thyroiditis. Thyroiditis similar to Hashimoto’s disease, except that the thyroid is reduced in size.
  • Pemphigus. An autoimmune disorder that causes blistering and raw sores on skin and mucous membranes.
  • Pernicious anaemia. An autoimmune disorder characterized by anemia due to malabsorption of vitamin B12
  • Primary biliary cirrhosis. An autoimmune disease that affects the biliary epithelial cells (BECs) of the small bile duct in the liver. Although the cause is yet to be determined, most of the patients (>90%) appear to have auto-mitochondrial  anti-bodies (AMAs) against pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC), an enzyme that is found in the mitochondria.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. An autoimmune disorder that causes the body’s immune system to attack the bone joints.
  • Reiter’s syndrome. An autoimmune disease affecting various body systems in response to a bacterial infection and the body’s confusion over the HLA-B27 marker .
  • Sjögren’s syndrome. An autoimmune disorder in which immune cells attack and destroy the exocrine glands that produce tears and saliva.
  • Takayasu’s arteritis. An auto immune disorder that results in the narrowing of the lumen of arteries.
  • Temporal arteritis (also known as “giant cell arteritis”). An inflammation of blood vessels, most commonly the large and medium arteries of the head. Untreated, the disorder can lead to significant vision loss.
  • Warm autoimmune hemolytic anemia. A auto immune disorder characterized by IgM attack against red blood cells
  • Wegener’s granulomatosis . A form of vasculitis that affects the lungs, kidneys and other organs.

Have we ever tried to realize as to why has this been happening so much?

Humans have become a walking stress machines. What applies to us is ‘Garbage in, Garbage out’. We put in bad thoughts and it comes as bad actions. We hardly pay attention to our body. We have started believing in “Materialism’. We want to get what-ever we can in this lifetime. We keep accumulating stuff thinking we may need it some day. But unfortunately, the day never comes. But what comes is disease.

Most of the autoimmune diseases are caused by

  • Stress
  • Poor Lifestyle
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Lack of exercise
  • Chronic dehydration: Not drinking enough water
  • Hereditary factors
  • Female Gender: Females are more prone to Autoimmune diseases

An autoimmune disorder may result in:

  • The destruction of one or more types of body tissue
  • Abnormal growth of an organ
  • Changes in organ function

An autoimmune disorder may affect one or more organ or tissue types including:

  • Blood vessels
  • Connective tissues
  • Endocrine glands such as the thyroid or pancreas
  • Joints
  • Muscles
  • Red blood cells
  • Skin

Symptoms can be very weird ranging from

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Body aches, etc

Diagnostic Tests

Your doctor may order the test based on your symptoms. But a few  most common ones are

  • ESR
  • CRP
  • ANA
  • CBC
  • Specific Autoantibody tests

Treatment

Immunosuppression: Medications which decreases the immune response. But it is not that simple. Most of the Immunosuppressants bring a high risk of side effects which are sometimes really hard to deal with.

Being a believer in Naturopathy and Alternative Medicine also, I recommend Lifestyle Modification be the primary treatment to fight against these painful diseases. They will detoxify your body. Some of them are:

  • Daily exercise
  • Healthy Diet: Fruits and Veggies
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Multivitamin daily
  • Acupressure and Reflexology
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Relaxation exercises including deep breathing
  • Reducing Sugar intake

The above mentioned treatments are not an alternative to medical treatment. So, do contact your doctor for management if your symptoms are uncontrolled.

One should understand that the idea is to detoxify the body and bring harmony within your body. Stop chasing for things that do not matter down the road. We do not carry what we buy for ourselves with us all the time 24X7. What we carry is our physical body every moment of our life. So value it and do not neglect it.

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Healthcare in US: When is it going to be Cost Effective?

In Health, Healthcare, Medicine on May 20, 2012 at 11:04 pm

It is important as a healthcare consumer to understand the history of the healthcare delivery system, how it operates today, who participates in the system, what legal and ethical issues arise as a result of the system, and what problems continue to plague the healthcare system.  We are all consumers of healthcare.  Yet, in many instances, we are ignorant of what we are actually purchasing.  If we were going to spend $1000 on an appliance or flat screen television, many of us would research the product to determine if what we are purchasing is the best product for us.  The same state should be applied to purchasing healthcare services.

As the United States resumes debate over options for achieving universal health coverage, policymakers are once again examining insurance systems in other industrialized countries. More recent attention has focused on countries that combine universal coverage with private insurance and regulated market competition.

A Basic Screenshot of what US healthcare is Comprised of

Medicare: Medicare is a social insurance program for the elderly, some of the disabled under age 65, and those with end-stage renal disease. Administered by the federal government, the program is financed through a combination of payroll taxes, premiums, and federal general revenues.

Medicaid: Medicaid is a joint federal-state health insurance program covering certain groups of the poor. Medicaid is administered by the states, which operate within broad federal guidelines. States receive matching funds from the federal government, varying among states from 50 percent to 76 percent of their Medicaid expenditures.

Private insurance: More than 1,200 not-for-profit and for-profit health insurance companies provide private insurance. They are regulated by state insurance commissioners. Private health insurance can be purchased by individuals, or it can be funded by voluntary premium contributions shared by employers and employees on an employer-specific basis, sometimes varying by type of employee. Employer coverage is the predominant form of health insurance coverage. Some individuals are covered by both public and private insurance.

Out-of-pocket spending: Out-of-pocket payments, including both cost-sharing insurance arrangements and expenditure paid directly by private households, accounted for 12 percent of total national health expenditures in 2007, which amounted to US$890 per capita.

Based on the fragmented development of US health care, the system is based on individualism and self-determination and focusing on the individual rather than collectivistic needs of the population. For example, there are over 20 million citizens who have type 2 diabetes, a chronic and serious disease that impacts how your body breaks down food to obtain energy. This chronic disease has severe complications if not treated appropriately. Unless something is done to prevent this insidious disease, there will be 35 million heart attacks, 13 million strokes, 8 million instances of blindness, 2 million amputations, and 62 million deaths over the next 30 years.

Both private and public participants in the US health delivery system need to increase their collaboration to reduce these disease rates. Leaders need to continue to assess our healthcare system using the Iron Triangle to ensure there is a balance between access, cost, and quality.

Although the Health Care Reform intends to take away the flaws the current system is infested with, the journey is going to be long and tough. But it will  definitely lead to a better outcome as compared to current situation.

EHR Ownership: Doc Vs patient…A WAR waiting to start

In Health, Healthcare, Medicine on May 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

The stage two meaningful use places a much greater emphasis on patient engagement and set high standards for making data electronically available to patients. Physicians should think about these requirements as they work to implement a new EHR system. The new rules state that a professional must make electronic records available to 50 percent of their patients. Furthermore, 10 percent of a physician’s patients must actually view and download these records.

Multiple state statutes, regulations, and cases govern the ownership of health information and the information contained in medical records. The classic statement of the rule concerning ownership of medical records is that the provider owns the medical records maintained by the provider, subject to the patient’s rights in the information contained in the record.

But,under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), every person “has a right of access to inspect and obtain a copy of protected health information.” The Meaningful Use regulations require that outpatient providers give patients clinical summaries within three business days for at least half of all office visits, if requested. Hospitals have to provide an electronic copy of discharge instructions upon request.

EHR ownership has been a hard pill to swallow for Health care providers and patients. It is hard to point out which one should be the owner when the contribution is the same. Patients’ health events and their information is what make the medical record. Healthcare providers on the other hand manage and form the formatted record to help patient and other providers get the right information when needed. Personally, I feel that ownership should be divided into both. Although, being a health care provider and knowing the risk of certain information disclosures which I do not want the patient to see, I feel that EHR should have a system in place to put in that confidential information to help other providers provide the best care under legal framework.

This way, we eliminate the risk of patient frustration of not being able to see what goes in their medical record. I also feel that this will help patients make better and wiser decisions for them when they can see what different healthcare providers think about their care. It will also reduce the medication error risk which is a major current issue in US Healthcare. It will make the care transparent which will ultimately lead to better healthcare status in country.

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