World Diabetes Day 2017

422 million adults worldwide have diabetes. The prevalence of this condition is rising at a faster pace than before particularly among low and middle income countries.

There are different types of diabetes. Only type 1 is not preventable. In all cases, the consequences might be severe: vision loss, kidney failure, increased risk of heart attack and stroke and even lower limb amputation.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented and what causes it it’s still not known. In this case, the body does not produce sufficient insulin and requires a daily intake of insulin to compensate.

Type 2 diabetes happens when the body produces sufficient insulin but doesn’t manage to use it well. It used to happen only in adults but lately can be found in children as well.This is the most common type and is normally associated with being overweight and conducting a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, diabetes type 2 can be prevented or delayed with a healthier lifestyle.

Gestational diabetes is temporary a condition that occurs during pregnancy and is characterized by hyperglycaemia. It represented and increased risk during pregnancy and delivery and can lead to diabetes type 2 in the children in the future.

Prevention is in your hands

Leading a healthy lifestyle and not smoking are important steps to prevent diabetes type 2. Additionally, only 30 minutes of physical activity per day can make a difference and help you to keep a healthy body weight.

Book a consultation with a nutritionist if you are looking for help to live a healthier and more active lifestyle!

 

World Hepatitis Day 2017

Hepatitis is a liver inflammation caused by a virus. Since 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) brings awareness to this disease every 28th of July. The motto for this year is: “to eliminate hepatitis.”

Image Credits: World Health Organization

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 case scenarios, acute or chronic hepatitis can lead to more serious problems such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

According to a report from the WHO, viruses B and C are responsible for 96% of hepatitis-related deaths. In 2015, there were nearly 325 million cases of hepatitis worldwide, but treatment only reaches a small percentage of individuals, especially in low income countries. In the same year, hepatitis caused the death of 1.3 million people.

Hepatitis viruses have different incubation periods and show no symptoms for long periods of time, but a simple blood test can detect the virus. Learn more about the virus and how they can spread.

Prevention is the key, so check your health regularly. Contact Medical Port if you want to arrange a medical check-up during a visit to Portugal! 

 

Read more: http://www.who.int/campaigns/hepatitis-day/2017/en/

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

Design by Freepik.com
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

 

Cardiovascular diseases

All the organs in the body are important, but the heart certainly deserves a special care. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 75% of CVD deaths occur in low and middle-income countries.

Cardiovascular diseases refer to disorders related to the heart and blood vessels. In the UK, every 7 minutes, somone suffers from a heart attack and around 160,000 people die from heart and circulatory diseases every year. In Portugal, in 2012 there were over 30 000 deaths due to cardiovascular diseases.

The following image describes the different cardiovascular diseases:

Cardiovascular diseases: coronary heart disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle; cerebrovascular disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain; peripheral arterial disease – disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs; rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria; congenital heart disease – malformations of heart structure existing at birth; deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs.

In any of these scenarios, an early detection and management on an existing condition are essential. If you would like to know more about the status of your heart, Medical Port has a special check-up that focuses solely on the heart. Check the image below or send us an email for more information.

Cardiovascular check up

Additionally, adopting healthy habits, as described in the previously article  is also advisable, as smoking, hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, overweight and a sedentary lifestyle are all risk factors.

Sources: WHO   Heart UK   Revista Factores de Risco

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!

Looking for sunny and safe holidays, tourists turn to Portugal

As some common holidays destinations like France and Turkey deal with the threat of terrorism, the number of tourists in Portugal increases. While this country remains a good choice regarding safety, the government has also worked on improving security measures.

Vista da ponto 25 de abril a partir de um terraço com uma mesa decorada com flores e com um copo de vinho.

Bloomberg points out that Portugal, along with its neighboring country Spain, is already registering a growth in the number of tourists who are seeking sunny destinations. It comes in the aftermath of multiple terrorist attacks in France and the failed coup d’etat in Turkey, a nation now facing internal conflicts in addition to the already existing terrorism threat.

Tourism represents about 10% of Portugal GDP. In 2015, hotels registered over 16 million guests and 70% of those were foreign. The number of British and German visitors increased the most. Algarve, Lisbon and Madeira were the most sought-after regions.

Investment in the future

Bloomberg quotes the Portuguese minister of Economy, Miguel Macedo Cabral, who says that the country is working to promote different segments to attract more tourists, not only during summer, but year-round. The government is also looking to expand tourism to other places in the country.

Portugal ranks 5th in the 2016 Global Peace Index by the Institute for Economics and Peace, climbing 6 positions compared to the previous year. Yet, in the light of the terrorism events in Europe, the government has also invested in improving measures in airports and common tourist destinations.

However, this is not the only index where Portugal gets an honorable place. It is the 12th out of 207 countries in the KOF Index of Globalization for 2016. The Portuguese health care system ranked 12th in the world by the World Health Organization. In fact, Portugal has some of the highest rates when it comes to available hospital beds and number of physicians. You can learn more about Portugal and the Portuguese health care by visiting our site.

 

 

 

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

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.