Have you taken your child to the pediatrician this year?

August celebrates children’s Eye Health month and Safety. Now it’s the perfect timing to get a pediatric consultation and ensure all is well with your children, just before school starts again. Medical Port can help you book a pediatric consultation while you are enjoying your stay in Portugal.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that over 40 million children under 5 were overweight, a number that tends to rise in all regions. Among teenagers, risky behaviors like alcohol or tobacco use, a sedentary lifestyle, unprotected sex and violence are some of the factors that can put their health at risk, with consequences for the future.

Society, parents and other carers should work together so that children can be first properly informed and followed to grow in a healthy way. A routine visit to a pediatrician is a good start to predict risks and promote a healthy lifestyle.

What can you expect from a visit to the pediatrician? Medical Port has prepared an infographic that covers the most common issues that are evaluated during a pediatric consultation, including physical, behavioral and development aspects.  If you want to know more about getting a pediatric consultation, visit our website.

 

infografico_pediatria-02-02
Click the image to enlarge

World Hepatitis Day: knowing the viruses

Yesterday the world observed the “World Hepatitis Day” that was created to raise awareness about this condition. There are five different types of hepatitis: A, B, C, D and E. Viruses B and C are the deadliest ones. Nowadays, Portugal is one of the most successful countries in the world dealing with Hepatitis C.

An image of a doctor writing on a notepad. and a piece of text saying "world hepatitis day 2016"

Hepatitis viruses have different incubation periods and can be symptomless for many years. In fact, less than 5% of infected individuals with hepatitis B and C know that they are infected – even nowadays, when it’s possible to detect Hepatitis with a simple blood test. Among those who are aware that they have hepatitis, the vast majority does not get any type of treatment. In a recent press release by the World Health Organization (WHO), Director General Dr. Margaret Chan says: “The world has ignored hepatitis at its peril. It is time to mobilize a global response to hepatitis on the scale similar to that generated to fight other communicable diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.”

The five virus’ types are very distinct and spread in different ways. Transmission of types A and E are linked to eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water, and is most common in regions that lack access to safe water, as well as in poor sanitation conditions. Hepatitis B and C commonly spread when blood-to-blood contact occurs, through unsafe injections, syringe sharing and medical procedures, during childbirth (from mother to child), and through sexual contact. Hepatitis D is also transmitted via infected blood, however, it only occurs if the person is already infected with the hepatitis B virus.

Currently, Portugal has an unique approach against hepatitis C, offering universal treatment covering people in all stages of the disease, unlike other countries that only treat more advanced cases. Another example of Portugal’s leading expertise on the field is the participation of Dr. Ana Cláudia Miranda, a specialist in infectious diseases, who represents Portugal at “Committed to Cure”, an European initiative to help cure Hepatitis C – in which only countries with solid and renown expertise in Hepatitis C are invited to be part of. 

Like most diseases, it is helpful to keep in mind that prevention and an early diagnosis are the key to stay healthy. If you are planning on coming to Portugal this summer, take the opportunity and look after your health. We will gladly arrange the right check-up for you, based on your needs, preferences and availability.

Source: World Health Organization, World Hepatitis Day, World Hepatitis Alliance, SOS Hepatites, Committed to Cure

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

Causes of hypertension

May is the month of Hypertension awareness at Health Abroad. It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers.

According to UK’s National Health System (NHS), the cause of 90% of hypertension cases isn’t known and this is called primary hypertension. Only 10% of hypertension cases have known causes and it’s called secondary hypertension, meaning it is originated by other diseases or conditions.

Several factors can be responsible for the development of primary hypertension:

  • Age – hypertension risk increases with age
  • Hereditary – hypertension seems to be inherited from family members
  • Consume of daily excessive amounts of salt
  • Lack of physical exercise
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Smoking
  • Drink alcohol in excess.

Secondary hypertension, although less common, can be originated from several causes:

  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Narrowing the arteries supplying the kidneys
  • Hormonal conditions
  • Conditions like lupus
  • Use of oral contraceptive pill
  • Use of painkillers

As a reference for those who believe they might have high blood pressure, there are four different blood pressure levels:

  1. Normal: less than 120 over 80
  2. Prehypertension: 120-139 over 80-89
  3. Stage 1 high blood pressure: 140-159 over 90-99
  4. Stage 2 high blood pressure: 160 and above over 100 and above

When people reach levels of blood pressure above 120 over above 80, they should go see a doctor and start to treat and control the condition right away. While it can be a normal body response to increase blood pressure momentarily, increased continuous values of high blood pressure are indicative of a condition and not a body response.

If you would like to learn more about hypertension you can read our previous post that answers to 3 common questions about hypertension. Our next post will be about the World Hypertension Day and why this day is observed all over the world.

3 answers about Hypertension

May 17 is the World Hypertension Day, a day intended to bring awareness about the disease and its consequences for the world population.

It is estimated that 4 in 10 adults globally suffer from hypertension. Raising awareness to the disease is important to put the spotlight in the preventive measures that can be taken to lower these numbers.

Health Abroad will dedicate the whole month of May to the topic of hypertension. We will share information and tips to deal with hypertension. To start, we are answering 3 common questions about hypertension.

1.What is hypertension?

According to the World Health Organization, hypertension is:

“(…) a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure, putting them under increased stress. Each time the heart beats; it pumps blood into the vessels, which carry the blood throughout the body. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump.”

2. What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Hypertension is called a “silent disease” because most people who suffer from it show little or no symptoms at all. Most of the symptoms of hypertension can be misleading as they are quite general. They can be:
“(…) headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, palpitations of the heart and nose bleeds (…)”, according to the World Health Organization.

3. If there are no symptoms how can hypertension be detected?

Adults should check their blood pressure regularly in order to detect changes in values that might be alarming for their health. If the blood pressure is high, preventive measures should be taken in order to control the values and avoid further increases. When high values of blood pressure are detected some measures can be taken to lower them:

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat healthy (eat fruits and vegetables on a daily basis for example)
  • Practice regular exercise
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Reduce salt intake

When these measures aren’t enough to lower blood pressure, medication can be the solution to control hypertension.

Hypertension can cause several health conditions that can ultimately lead to death. In the next post we will discuss more about what causes hypertension and what are the consequences.

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.

10 facts about diabetes

April 7 is the World Health Day. Every year the World Health Organization chooses a health problem that concerns millions and millions of people around the world and raises awareness to that problem.

This year, the World Health Day is dedicated to Diabetes, a disease that affects 422 million people, according to the World Health Organization. In order to join the conversation about diabetes we will highlight 10 facts about the disease:

  1. 422 million is the estimated number of people worldwide who suffer from the disease
  2. It is one of the leading causes of death
  3. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 (caused by lack of insulin production) and type 2 (caused by the ineffective use of insulin)
  4. The third type of diabetes is related to pregnancy, the gestational diabetes
  5. The incidence of type 2 diabetes is much greater than the others
  6. When diabetes is detected and well-managed, people can live a long and healthy life with the disease
  7. Early detection and diagnosis is crucial for patients to live a long life
  8. The majority of deaths related to diabetes occur in low and middle-income countries
  9. Diabetes can cause blindness, amputation and kidney failure
  10. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with a healthy lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle increases the chances to avoid being affected by diseases such as diabetes type 2 that are caused by sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition. Eat well and be physically active are two of the most important tips for those who want to live longer.

Read the full article on the World Health Organization’s website, here.

Gastric band surgery

Gastric band surgery is one of the most common weight-loss surgeries performed today. It is also known as laparoscopic gastric band or lap band surgery and consists of constricting the stomach to give a fuller feeling after eating less food than the person would normally do.

Those who undergo this type of weight-loss surgery are obese people who want to achieve weight-loss goals while going under minimally invasive surgery. According to Medical News Today, “it is a minimally invasive, quick, reversible and adjustable surgical procedure that decreases the size of the stomach to reduce food intake”.

According to Medical News Today these are some of the advantages of gastric band:

  • Potential for long-term weight loss, which leads to, increased mobility and decreased risk for chronic diseases.
  • Reversibility: the band can be removed and adjusted. Depending on the results the band can be tightened or loosened and even removed if the patient isn’t loosing enough weight or didn’t adapt to the band.
  • Since the stomach isn’t cut, the normal digestive process isn’t affected.
  • Short hospital stay: usually the hospital stay required is less than 24 hours and even same-day discharge is often possible.
  • Lower complications when compared to other weight loss surgeries and less demands of dietary changes.
Gastric Band Surgery
Gastric Band Surgery

Gastric band surgery is appropriate for those who are diagnosed with obesity by medical standards and after several exams. Medical Port developed an exclusive obesity diagnosis program, which includes a thorough examination of the causes of excess weight, includes exams and analysis and consultations from several medical specialties before a final diagnosis is issued. After being diagnosed, the patient starts a diet so that when the gastric band is in place, besides from having lost some weight already, the patient as also gain new eating habits and is ready to stick to a new healthy lifestyle.

If you would like more information about Medical Port’s obesity diagnosis program, click here.

The effects of Stress

There are numerous ways stress affects our lives. Stress can prevent us to sleep and rest but it can also be the trigger for more serious diseases. Stress has become a part of our daily lives and sometimes its effects go unnoticed until they become serious.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is defined as “(…) the brain’s response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. They may be recurring, short-term, or long-term and may include things like commuting to and from school or work every day, traveling for a yearly vacation, or moving to another home.

Everyone can suffer from stress and that isn’t always a bad thing. The same institute also states that by triggering body’s responses, stress can be good for the immune system. “When you face a dangerous situation, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival. In the short term, it can even boost the immune system.The problem rises when stress is continuous, and the body is constantly producing these responses causing the body’s vital system to be always on alert and ready to protect it.

Hair loss is one of the most common stress effects in the body.

Although it is hard to link both, researchers found that continuous stress lowers our immune system, the body produces an autoimmune response that causes hair follicles to fall.

Acne is another major stress effect that usually gives a warning sign to those affected.

When pimples start to breakout after the teenage years they are usually linked to stress.

Heart attack and stroke are some of the most serious effects stress can do to people.

When people can’t disconnect from what is causing them stress, whether is a work, family or other situation the help of medical professionals is key to relieve the stress and help them to face things in a different perspective. There are effective techniques to control stress and to minimize its impact in our lives and our health. With the help of a psychologist stress can be lowered and controlled so that individuals can make better decisions and have a better life quality. Mindfulness is one of the most powerful techniques that can help control stress and boost better decision-making. If you would like to learn more about mindfulness and how it can help relieve stress read this blog post and visit our website for more information.