Getting a Medical Second Opinion

Looking for a medical second opinion isn’t about mistrusting your doctor, it is about being aware about your health status and alternatives and making informed decisions when faced with a complex diagnosis.

A second opinion can be used to confirm a health condition or to verify the best treatment option for an established diagnosis. As in any other field, errors can happen due to complexity of cases or lack of deep expertise and practice. It’s hard to quantify the number of misdiagnosis, but an often quoted study from the American Journal of Medicine claims the rate of misdiagnosis can vary between less than 5% up to 15%[1], depending on the medical field.

Getting a second opinion is, therefore, a valuable resource. It will guarantee you an external point of view that may see something the previous doctor missed, complement the existing diagnosis with useful details and/or advise on other treatment options. On the contrary, if a second opinion confirms all that has been previously diagnosed, it is also an extra reassurance for the patient.

Click on the image to be redirected to our webpage dedicated to Clínica Universitária de Navarra.

Remote Second Opinion

It is also possible to get a second opinion remotly. At Clínica Universitária de Navarra , one of the best private hospitals in Spain, the doctors will analyse your recent medical exams and medical history and provide you with an evaluation within a maximum period of 15 working days. The doctors also contact you to explain their diagnosis and their opinion about the alternatives you have to deal with your medical condition. Contact us if you wish to get a medical second opinion from Clínica Universitária de Navarra.

 

[1] http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(08)00040-5/pdf

31st May: World No Tobacco Day

Tobacco contributes to 16% of non-communicable diseases and tobacco-related diseases kill more than 7 million every year.

Today commemorates the World No Tobacco Day, a date that aims to raise awareness of the hazardous effects of tobacco, not only for health, but as well for the environment, and for life quality in general. As the World Health Organisation Director-General Dr Margaret Chan says: “Tobacco threatens us all. Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air.”

Tobacco is a huge burden on health. On average, smokers lose 15 years of life and almost half of tobacco users will die of tobacco – related causes. Second hand smoke, the smoke produced by cigarettes and smokers than can be inhaled by other people contributes to the death of nearly 1 million people every year.

Tobacco has also a strong impact on economy, by reducing economic productivity and placing a burden on healthcare expenditure. According to the WHO, every year over US$ 1.4 trillion are spent by households and governments worldwide because of tobacco.

Quitting smoking can be a challenge, but it certainly will improve the lives of smokers and their families and friends. If you are living in Portugal and you want to stop smoking, contact us. Medical Port has partnered with a clinic that offers a comprehensive program to quit smoking, involving a multidisciplinary approach covering from psychological support to nutrition and medical follow up.

Source: World Health Organisation (WHO)

World Immunization Week 2017 – Vaccines are successful

During the “World Immunization Week” the World Health Organization (WHO) raises awareness to the use of vaccines as an effective tool protect against diseases.

Vaccines are seen as one of the most successful and cost-effective ways to prevent diseases and save lives. Every year, between 2 and 3 million deaths are avoided because of vaccination and another 1.5 million could be avoided, according to estimations by the WHO.

 

MD Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director-General, says “nearly 1 in 5 children – worldwide are still missing routine immunizations for preventable diseases, such as diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus.” Increasing access to vaccines is part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations.

The WHO explains that besides providing defenses against for multiple diseases, immunization is “a point of contact for health care at the beginning of life and offers every child the chance at a healthy life from the start.” To learn more about pediatric care, you can visit our website or contact us.

One of the greatest successes of vaccines is the fight against polio, since there has been a decrease of 99% of cases since 1988. In 2016, only 27 cases were reported worldwide. Nowadays, only 3 countries (Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan) remain polio-endemic. Another important achievement is the progress made in reducing measles cases, from 2.6 million, in 1980, to 134 000, in 2015.

Read more about vaccines and immunization week in our previous blog post.

World Immunization Week 2017 – Vaccines Work

Every year, the last week of April aims to raise awareness for immunization. This year topic is “Vaccines Work”.

Vaccines work by acting as “fake” pathogens that carry diseases, prompting a response from the immune system. This way, the body will be ready to act faster if faced with the real disease pathogen in the future. By helping to prevent diseases in the first place, vaccines also limit the antibiotic resistance.

During this action week, the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to raise awareness for the importance of the use of vaccines and clarify some myths regarding them. The five key messages raised by the WHO are:

  1. Vaccines are safe and effective, because they undergo rigorous tests before being given to the population
  2. Vaccines prevent deadly diseases, like measles and mumps. Those who are not vaccinated are more vulnerable to such things
  3. Vaccines provide better immunity than natural infections, because there is less risk involved
  4. Combined vaccines are safe and beneficial and there is no risk associated with receiving multiple vaccines at the same time
  5. If we stop vaccination diseases will return. When less people get vaccinated, even previously eradicated diseases can return (as the recent outbreak of measles in some European countries).

Make sure you and your family are protected against diseases! If you are living in Portugal and away from your country healthcare system, we will help you finding the adequate healthcare you need. Contact us!

 

Sources: WHO, Historyofvaccines.org

International Childhood Cancer Day – 15 February

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that around 200 000 children and teenagers are diagnosed with cancer, though many cases may be unreported. It is one of the leading causes of death among children.

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Childhood cancer is commonly used to designate cancers diagnosed in individuals below 18 years old. This international day aims to raise awareness and support to all those affected by this problems, children, teenagers, parents or other caregivers, as it places a great burden, emotional and economic to all parties involved.

In the USA, there were over 10 000 diagnosed childhood cancer cases in 2016. Nearly 90% are expected to survive. Although the survival rate has increased, it remains the leading cause of death among children in this country. In Portugal, there are around 350 cases every year and the survival rates are also high, in line with the high-income countries.

Cancer in children and teenagers tend to be different than those happening among adults. More common cancers among adults like breast, lung and colon cancer are rare among children, while leukemia represents a third of the cases among children and teenagers. There are also some tumors that only occur specifically among children, like neuroblastoma, nephroblastoma, medulloblastoma and retinoblastoma.

Causes & Treatment

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Design by Freepik.com

Genetic factors, radiation and viruses like Epstein-Barr, Hepatitis B, Human Herpes and HIV are some of the identified factors that can contribute to a higher risk of childhood cancer, but exact causes are still unknown. Common treatments include: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy and stem cell transplant. Treatment depends on the type and the stage of cancer.

According to the WHO, nearly 80% of children living in high-income countries can expect to survive five years or longer after the cancer diagnosis. Children in such countries are followed regularly by doctors. Over 90% of deaths related to childhood cancer occur in lower-income countries.

Pediatric oncology is the specialty that deals with these cases. To learn more about pediatric consultations click here.

Sources: World Health Organization, National Cancer Institute, Associação Acreditar

 

29th September – World Heart Day

World Heart Day is celebrated on the 29th of September. Throughout the world, millions of deaths are linked to heart problems, and many could be avoided with an healthier lifestyle and early prevention mechanisms.

World Heart Day

According to the world Health Organization (WHO), half of all deaths in the European region are due to cardiovascular disease. Africa has the highest prevalence of high blood pressure in the world. Blood pressure is linked to a greater risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and heart failure, among other health issues. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in USA – it represents 1 in 4 deaths among Americans.

Many factors can contribute to heart problems, such as age, family history, problems like hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and being overweight.

The do’s and the don’ts

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat healthy meals, that include plenty of vegetables, fruit, fish and cereal
  • Avoid food that is high on salt, sugar or fat
  • Drink plenty of water

Apart from a healthy diet, some lifestyle habits can also help you achieve better health and prevent heart diseases, such as exercising regularly, doing a leisure active such as reading, gardening or meditating. These hobbies can help you fight stress, which can contribute to heart problems as well. Additionally, don’t underestimate good nights of sleep. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.

If you want to do a specialised heart check-up while visiting Portugal, you can contact us and we will make all the arrangements according to your availability.

Better safe than sorry: you may want to consider an STD screening

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), usually known as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections that spread mostly through sexual contact. The most common are chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis, but there are many more, like HIV and Hepatitis B.

a doctor holds a notebook. the text says "stds: when was the last time you got tested?"

Holidays mean fun and a needed relaxing period from a long work year. However health does not take a time out. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that everyday over one million of STDs are acquired worldwide. A great part of STDs has mild or no symptoms. Thus, many people are not aware they are infected and contribute to the spreading unwittingly.

If left untreated, STDs can lead to other serious conditions, beyond the infections itself. For instance, gonorrhea and chlamydia are the main causes of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility among women. In men, the most common consequence is an infection in the prostate, prostatitis, but can also lead to infertility.

Practicing safe sex, using male or female condoms is a great practice to reduce the risk of contracting an STD but does not eliminate it at 100%. If you are sexually active with multiple partners, you should check your status regularly. During your next check-up, ask to be also tested for STDs.

We will be talking more about STDs throughout the month of August. Stay tuned and remember that prevention is the key!

July 28 celebrates World Hepatitis Day

Hepatitis is the seventh leading cause of death and disability in the world according to a recently released report from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Over 90% of deaths are linked to hepatitis B and C. Early diagnosis could save many lives.

A graphic explains that 400 million people are infected with hepatitis B and C, only 5% are aware they are infected and only 1 in 100 people gets treatment.

World Hepatitis Day was set up in 2010 by the World Health Organization to raise awareness about viral hepatitis and promote access to better treatment and prevention programmes.

Hepatitis is a liver inflammation caused by a virus. There are five hepatitis viruses: A, B, C, D and E. Treating hepatitis can be a simple process (or it can be untreatable), depending on the type of hepatitis, its stage of development and the damage already done to the liver. In the worst scenarios, acute or chronic hepatitis can lead to more serious problems such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure. Over 90% of hepatitis-related deaths are linked to viruses B and C.

Portugal is one of the countries that has registered a great progress against hepatitis. Earlier this year, a successful and innovative treatment for Hepatitis C in Portugal – with a healing rate of 95% – has been praised within the medical community.

An early diagnosis can make the difference. Hepatitis can be detected with a simple blood test that you can choose to include in your next check-up. If you are visiting Portugal, we can arrange a complete check-up for you, according to your needs.

In the next blog post we will explain the different hepatitis viruses and their transmission modes.

Source: World Health Organization, World Hepatitis Day, World Hepatitis Alliance, SOS Hepatites

Foods to lower the risk of certain types of cancer

Recent studies show that some foods can help lower cancer risk. New research is helping scientists’ every day to find ways to cure and prevent cancer, yet new variants of cancer continue to appear.

While we can’t prevent all types of cancer, there are some eating and drinking habits that can help prevent some types of cancer.

  1. Drink coffee to prevent liver cancer. According to a recent research from the World Cancer Research Fund International drinking coffee can lover liver inflammation: “While scientists aren’t completely sure how coffee battles liver cancer, they believe it might have something to do with lowering liver inflammation — which is one of the factors behind development of liver disease and cancer.”
  2. Mediterranean Diet to prevent uterine cancer “The Mediterranean Diet is considered one of the healthiest ways to eat, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it has been linked to a lower risk of cancer too.”, according to a study by the British Journal of Cancer.
  3. Eating nuts can protect against prostate cancer according to a study from the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.

A healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits are drivers of a good overall health, and while we can’t prevent cancer there are small actions everyone can take in order to be healthier. Eating fruits, vegetables and cereals on a daily basis, and reducing the amount of salt and sugar intake are good ways to start a healthy diet. We have already discussed the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet on previous posts you can read here.

Read the full article from Medical Daily, here.

4 tips to lose weight effectively and for the long term

When summer approaches, millions of people start looking for diets and for ways to lose those extra pounds gained during winter.

Most people want to lose weight fast and are willing to try several weight loss methods, only to find out that those methods don’t work for the long term. Those who lose weight fast also can regain it fast. So what are the best ways to lose weight and maintain it? There isn’t a unique answer for this question. Losing weight results from a combination of healthy eating, exercising and changing lifestyles. Commit to have a healthy weight should be a long-term commitment, not just for the summer months.

Remember these 4 tips the next time you think about losing weight:

  1. Drink water – Every adult should drink at least eight cups of water a day to keep hydrated, and maintain kidneys and intestines working which will lead to a better digestion and consequently lose weight.
  2. Do more than 3 meals a day – Don’t limit yourself to the main meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Eating light snacks (like fresh fruits or dried nuts) every 2 to 3 hours will keep the body function and prevent hunger.
  3. Practice exercise – Physical exercise is of great importance for the body. Not only to lose weight but to maintain a health body and mind. A great way to start exercising is to take a walk t least for 30 minutes every day.
  4. Sleep well – Resting is very important for the body. Those who want to lose excess weight should take into account that the body needs to rest every night for at least 7 hours. A diet can deliver poor results if the body isn’t restoring properly every night and a tired body will ask for more food than a rested one.

Being healthy entails to eat, drink, exercise and sleep well. When the body and the mind are aligned to produce the desired results, they will appear and continue for the long term.

Do not forget to do a health check-up before starting your weight loss program and to monitor Key variables each 6 months to be sure you are keeping your health along the program. Contact us – we can help you to start.