Gut Bacteria that May Cause Stroke

New research published in Nature has added convincing data to the theory that the gut bacteria biome may influence our health in many more ways than was previously known – and not just in the stomach. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania were studying a rare genetic disorder that causes cerebral cavernous malformations where bubbles filled with blood protrude from vessels in the brain and could leak or pop at any time. Although they identified 3 different gene mutations linked to the disorder, it wasn’t until they moved their lab out of one building and into another that they made the unlikely link between the gene mutation, the brain disorder and gut bacteria. In the course of their study, students followed a research protocol that deleted specific genes in the study mice using a drug injection. Once the gene was deleted, the mice would begin to develop the brain malformations. Occasionally the injection would cause an abscess and then bacteria from the gut would leak into the bloodstream of the mice. But after they moved buildings, only the mice who developed abscesses then went on to develop the brain malformations. Other mice, even though they had the same gene deletion, did not develop the blood bubbles. Finally, the doctors discovered that a lipopolysaccharide, carried on the cell walls of Gram-negative bacteria, was signaling the brain to produce the blood...

The Importance of Patient Contact

Adrusht Madapoosi writes on the importance of patient contact as a pre-med student.  Ever since high school, I had this dream of becoming a physician. I didn’t really know much as a high school student, so before applying to college, I participated in a lot of diverse programs. I took an “anatomy and physiology” class my junior year, excelled in it, which pretty much was one of the reasons I decided that medicine was for me. My father is a physician and set me up in a neuroscience laboratory, which made me decide that I wanted to pursue a major in neuroscience.   Ever since I received my acceptance letter from the University of Pittsburgh, I had a dream that I would attend as a pre-medicine student for one of the most prestigious neuroscience programs in the country. I naively thought it would be a very unique road to follow, but little did I know that I would be joining almost two-thousand other pre-medicine students from my freshman class, almost seventy percent of them of whom would also be majoring in one of the natural sciences. Time progressed and I completed the prerequisites and began my neuroscience courses over the first two years. I joined pre-med clubs, tutored, and volunteered in hospitals, but it was not as fulfilling as I had expected. I was craving experience, something that I was...

Tips and Tricks for Your Next USMLE Step 1 Test

First of all I’d like to say that I am not the expert. I’m not even AN expert (of anything). Reading this article will not magically make you score a 260+ on Step 1. However, it might help to quell some rising panic which will DEFINITELY improve your chances because less stress = increased ability to relax and allow your brain to do its thing! With that said, here is some advice I found helpful during the dark period that was Dedicated Study Period. It’s ok to not use First Aid. I know saying this basically borders on blasphemy and that First Aid is literally “the bible” of step studying but it is simply one resource among many and it will work for some and not for others. Some people will swear by First Aid, others don’t even read through more than a few pages. I think it’s really up to you and whether or not you find it helpful. I personally found that reading straight through as had been recommended to me was a waste of time. Instead, I ended up using it more as a summary review after I had already gone over the concepts to help cement some of the more-high yield details. Set a goal. I don’t mean in a vague way like ‘ OMG I have to do better than the 240s or my...

The American Health Care Act and its Effects on Healthcare

Repeal and replace has been the ongoing motto of the current administration with regards to the Affordable Care Act. Repealing has remained the easy task, but replacing is the hard part, the one filled with frustration of a system that is can swallow you whole.   While the Affordable Care Act is not without its shortcomings, it was a success in several ways. Mark Hall, JD, one of the leading scholars in the areas of health care law and public policy at Wake Forest University, made three clear points about the ACA at a town hall in Winter 2017: 1) it was never written to provide universal coverage; 2) most Americans have no idea that the uninsured rate is the lowest in decades; 3) the insurance laws were changed so that no one was uninsurable.   However, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the replacement for the ACA, seems less likely a repeal and replace, and more like a repeal with no clear strategies to on improvement. And when it comes to health and lives of millions of Americans, an inadequate replacement is not good enough. The House Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees initially introduced the AHCA in March 2017, where it failed to pass. This bill as it stood in March would have repealed tax penalties for those without insurance, reduced Medicaid spending, incentivized states...

Four Reasons to Love your Nurses

There are hundreds of reasons to thank our nurses every day, and not just for National #NursesWeek. Nurses are on the front lines and are often the first to meet our patients. We rely on them to be efficient, brilliant and caring – all at the same time.   Here are our Top Four Reasons to Love Nurses:   They are caretakers – Most nurses enter the nursing profession, not because it is glamorous or pays well, but because they truly compassionate. They want to help sick people get well, but they also want to help doctors to do their job as best they can. Nurses go the extra mile after our patients when we can’t always be there. They are educators – In his book, “Kill as Few Patients as Possible,” Dr. Oscar London explains that “working with a good nurse is one of the great joys of being a doctor. I cannot understand physicians who adopt an adversarial relationship with nurses. They are depriving themselves of an education in hospital wisdom.” Nursing school is not easy, and, just like medical school, it takes a smart and driven person to succeed. Through their broad range of experiences and close contact with patients, nurses have a lot to teach both doctors and almost-doctors. They listen – Usually, our patients’ first interactions are with our nurses. Whether someone walks in with...

QUIZ: Brush Up Your Skills and Knowledge on First Aid!

Test your knowledge on how well you know first aid! You could save a life! First aid is one of the most important skills you can have. Just by performing some basic procedures or following best advice, you can save someone’s life. You may have learned some first aid at school, but is your knowledge up to date? Would you know what to do in an emergency? Yes, it can be very scary when a medical emergency happens in front of you, but if you know how to handle the situation and keep a person alive and calm until an ambulance arrives, then you could save a life or prevent more serious injuries from occurring. So many deaths and injuries can be prevented, so isn’t it worth brushing up those skills? Source:...

Trumpcare Is Bad For Mental Health Coverage

On May 4, the House of Representatives narrowly passed the Republican regime’s new health plan, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA), or Trumpcare. This is a win for Republicans, many of whom promised their constituents that they would finally repeal Obamacare. The AHCA is different from Obamacare in many ways, and NPR does a great job of breaking down the main provisions of the new health care bill. One of the ways the AHCA is so different from Obamacare is by how it addresses mental health.   One of the provisions of the AHCA permits states to apply for waivers that allow insurers in their state to eliminate Obamacare-required “essential health benefits” from their plans. The removal of required essential health benefits, which include mental health and addiction services, will likely lead to cheaper, and therefore more affordable, health plans. But, of course, it comes at a cost—while these cheaper plans seem like a good deal for consumers, they actually provide barebones coverage that excludes mental health care. The sad thing is that many consumers aren’t fully aware of the barebones coverage their more ‘affordable’ plan provides. This isn’t necessarily the consumer’s fault, considering how complicated insurance language is….but, that’s a story for another day. The exclusion of behavioral health care is crippling, considering 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness within a given year. The loss of...