Our skin has the largest surface area of our body and fortunately says a lot about our body too.
So here’s a quickie on health problems, indicated by telltale signs on our skin:
Problems with Gall Bladder, Liver: Excessively yellow skin can be indicative of excessive bile, bilirubin production, and subsequently a problem with the gallbladder or liver disease.
HypoThyroid: Pale looking skin along with clammy, cold skin, hands and feet may indicate an underactive thyroid. Hypothyroid is a serious medical condition which may lead to even heart disease at a later stage and hence proper medical management is critical.
Varicose Veins: If you find deep blue veins visible, on your legs, it could be a sign of varicose veins. Veins help blood circulate properly. Blood leaking and pooling into veins is often a sign of things not working well. Varicose veins may be accompanied by pain, cramping and tingling on the soles of the foot and even difficulty walking.
Varicose veins are different from spider veins. While spider veins are thin and look like the spiders’ web, varicose veins are larger, thicker and often raised on the skin.
Time to connect with a doctor is when the veins start to pain and trouble.
Badly damaged veins may lead to a clotting and a condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis. Treatment may include wearing compression stockings or sclerotherapy, that is injecting the vein to shut it down and even surgery.
Swollen Lymph Nodes: Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, collarbone, armpits, groin can be a sign of an infection or worst case Lymphoma.
Extremely Itchy Scratchy Skin: Extreme itchiness especially in your lower limbs, without insect, mosquito bites, without visible skin rashes may be an early sign of lymphoma.
Extreme itching worse than that experienced due to dry skin, with or without reddish inflamed skin could be what is known as Hodgkin’s itch and calls for a visit to the doctor.
Leukemia or Blood Cancer: Any bruises which you seem to get without remembering banging into something or getting hit, large bluish, purple patches on the skin are may be a sign of blood cancer, ALL( Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) or AML( Acute Myeloid Leukemia) and need investigation as soon as they are noticed
Addison’s disease: A dark coloring or pigmentation on the skin, around the lips, face, soles of the feet, palms may also indicate an endocrine disorder known as Addison’s disease. A diagnostic test measuring cortisol can diagnose Addison’s disease.
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In continuation of our last blog on what is an enlarged heart, today we would discuss ” how to diagnose an enlarged heart and treatment options for the same”
- Angiogram or catheterization, checks for blockages in the heart. A flexible tube is inserted via the groin, dye injected and pictures of the heart taken to check for blockages and heart function. In case of blockages, stenting or angioplasty is carried out at the same time.
- ECG uses electrodes to detect heart activity.
- Echo, uses sound waves to detect heart activity and take pictures of the heart.
- MRI is used to take pictures of the heart and blood vessels to detect anomalies.
- CT Scan is also used to take pictures of the arteries in the heart and is often used for patients with pacemakers and other implanted devices.
- Stress Echo: The patient is made to exercise and then heart tests are administered. Along with ECG, Stress Echo shows heart rate, rhythm, and activity.
- Some of the common treatment options are:
- Angioplasty or Stenting are often carried out when blockages or fat, calcium deposits are found in the arteries.Stents can be bare metal or drug-eluting which help open up the arteries.
- CABG or an open heart surgery in case of multiple blockages also help.
- Heart Valve surgeries, such as single valve repair, DVR( Double valve replacement ), MVR(Mitral valve replacement, Mital valve repair), VSD, ASD help take care of valve-related heart problems which impair blood flow and lead to an enlarged heart over time.
- VAD or Ventricular assist devices, help in heart failure by helping a weak heart pump blood. VAD can be, LVAD( left ventricular assist device) or RVAD( Right ventricular assist device). ICD combo devices and Pacemakers also help weak hearts or a heart with impaired function.
- Heart Transplant is the very last option when all else fails to support patients with extreme heart failure.
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We often hear of an enlarged heart, what does it mean? How does one’s heart get enlarged? And how does it affect our health?
- Congenital heart defects or heart defects one is born with us as PDA, VSD, ASD, Mitral valve defect, left untreated lead to high pulmonary pressures, which in turn lead to thickening of the arterial wall and also an enlarged heart.Though most babies are routinely scanned for congenital heart defects in developed countries, treatment upon detection and early intervention and management still remains the key.Many parents despite detection, are often scared to get surgical interventions without realizing that they are hampering both mental and physical growth and putting children at risk of enlarged heart and other complications later on in life.
complications such as hypertension or high blood pressure also lead to an enlarged heart over a period of time.In case of high blood pressure, the heart has to pump harder to deliver blood to the rest of your body, thereby thickening and enlarging the heart muscle.High blood pressure may also enlarge the upper chambers of the heart, the left ventricle and also weaken the heart long-term.
- Coronary artery disease or CAD (blocked arteries requiring stenting, angioplasty) can also lead to a heart attack. A part of the heart muscle dies during a heart attack, causing the heart muscle to work harder to supply blood to the entire body which over long-term leads to an enlarged heart.
- Abnormal Heart Beat or Arrhythmia is often ignored but may cause an enlarged heart over a period of time.
- Anemia or low level of iron in the body, where the body doesn’t have enough Red Blood Cells to carry blood to the body, leads to rapid, irregular heartbeat causing the heart to pump harder to make up for lack of sufficient oxygen in the blood.Sicklers or patients suffering from sickle cell anemia are at an increased risk and despite hearsay, a Bone Marrow Transplant or a BMT remains the only curative treatment for Sickle Cell Anemia, Thalassemia Major.
- Thyroid disorders, also lead to various heart diseases over a period of time leading to an enlarged heart.
This women’s day lets talk about something that on top of mind for most women, though its importance for all of us, is no less, “Weight loss the healthy way“.
Many of us believe, cutting down on fat is the way to weight loss. Research, however, shows cutting down on carbs is the way to go.
Here are a few quick ways to cut down on carbohydrates and lose weight the healthy way.
Avoid Bread: Cutting down on bread especially the white bread ones, reduces intake of carbohydrates. Most bread is made of refined flours and even the enriched ones, multigrain, ragi ones have a fair share of carbohydrates. Replacing them with Multigrain millets such as Ragi, Rye, Amaranth, Barley, raw steel cut Oats, Multigrain rotis( Indian flatbread) is a wiser choice.
Avoid fruit Juices: Fruit juices even the ones labelled 100% fruit juice, have no fibre content and are often no better than sugary beverages. Though some juices are enriched with vitamins, the same can also be provided with seeds and nuts.
Replacing fruit juices with whole fruits is a much better option as whole fruits have a good fibre content and are also a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Freshly squeezed cucumber juice with mint, coriander is also a better choice over prepackaged fruit juices.
Eliminate Sodas and Energy Drinks: Sugary sodas, drinks are best avoided.
Lemon flavoured water, Lemon-ginger infused water, cucumber infused water are good healthier substitutes.
Protein, Protein, Protein: Loading up on protein, lean meats creates a feeling of fullness and ensures that you eat lesser calories through the day. having sufficient protein also ensures lesser muscle loss while exercising.
Adding protein to your daily breakfast instead of sugary cereals, rich in carbohydrates, is a good way to start the day.
Load up on the veggies: Loading up on veggies, adding them to breakfast, lunch and dinner is a good option as not only does eating veggies not only gives us much-needed nutrients but also creates a feeling of fullness and cuts carb cravings.
These easy diet modifications will help not only take inches off your midline but will also lead to a healthier U.
And of course, 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week will add an extra punch.
If all else fails and your BMI still remains over 31, weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery ( Gastric sleeve, gastric bypass) may be good options to consider and may get your blood pressure, diabetes and other obesity-related health conditions under check.
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And lastly wishing firmer boobs, no love handles, flat belly’s, groovy curves to all the beauties and cuties. Happy Women’s day!
Poop comes in all shades, often a result of what we eat and chemical changes due to bile as our food gets digested.
Normal poop color is brown though sometimes if we eat green leafy vegetables it could be on the greener side. A sudden color change could be indicative of a health problem.
Robotics or computer assisted surgeries are helping patients with advanced cancer care. Robotic surgery effectively means’ robotic systems designed specifically to assist surgeons perform, complex surgical procedures with precision, control and dexterity.
These are often difficult to reach cancerous tumours, which the surgeons are able to view with increased vision and hence excise with precious thanks to video assisted robotic systems.
In general, the surgeon uses the robotic systems, arms to perform the surgery instead of his own hands. Most good systems come equipped with cameras and 3D imaging to enable surgeons to view deeper locations inside the body and reach the diseased tissue with greater range of motion and precision.
Cyberknife, Gamma Knife, Novalis, Da Vinci are various forms of robotics systems available to assist surgeons.
Robotics can today be used for prostate cancer treatment, oral cancer treatment, breast cancer treatment, throat cancer treatment, thyroid cancer treatment, ovarian cancer treatment, uterine cancer treatment, oesophageal cancer, brain tumour surgery, treatment of bone and soft tissue sarcoma, lung cancer, and several other cancers.
Though we will cover each of these procedures in greater detail in subsequent posts, here are a few significant benefits of minimally invasive, Robotics assisted surgeries
- Fewer incisions- Maximum size of incisions is usually not more than 7mm .
- Significantly lower blood loss as compared to open surgeries.
- Targeted, Higher Dose of Radiation.
- Less Trauma, pain Quicker, faster recovery.
- Reduced hospital stays of sometimes even one day( specific to surgery)
- Added benefits for obese and diabetic patients with co morbidities where wound healing and open surgery complications need to be avoided.
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Fibroids affect 1 out of every 4 women, atleast once in their lifetime. Usually affecting women in the age group pf 30-50, fibroids can be as small as a pea or as big as a melon.
Fibroids increase or decrease in size and can even go away. Fibroids are sensitive to oestrogen levels and tend to swell when the level of oestrogen is high for example in heavier women typically weighing over 70 kgs or more.
On the other hand, fibroids can shrink when the level of oestrogen goes down and hence tend to shrink on weight loss or post menopause.
Fibroids are also called Uterine Myomas, Fibromyomas or Leiomyomas. Most Fibroids grow within the muscle tissue of the womb.
What are the common problems associated with fibroids ?
Heavy, Painful Periods: Bleeding is often heavier with fibroids and is often accompanied with pain. Besides affecting quality of life, heavy periods may lead to anaemia.
Bloating, Swelling: Large fibroids, may lead to swelling in the lower abdomen and discomfort in the lower abdomen and lower back.
Painful Intercourse: Fibroids growing near the vagina or the cervix may lead to pain during intercourse.
Bladder Problems: If a fibroid presses on the bladder which is in front of the womb, it may cause frequent urination.
Bowel Problems: Though extremely rare, if a fibroid presses on the bowel, which lies behind the womb, it may cause constipation.
Infertility: If the fibroids grow into the cavity of the womb, they can sometimes block fallopian tubes which can hamper conception and cause Infertility. In such cases an IVF often helps, post fibroid treatment.
Miscarriages: Though rare, sometimes fibroids may cause repeat miscarriages.
Early labour and possibility of a C-section: Sometimes fibroids, may result in an early labour and even a C -section instead of a normal delivery.
There are several ways to treat fibroids, which includes medical management and also surgical options.
Surgical options for treatment of fibroids are:
Hysterectomy: is removal of the womb when fibroids are causing symptoms and pain. If fibroid are small in size, the womb can be removed via the vagina and if the fibroids are large, then the womb may need to be removed via an incision in the lower abdomen.
Uterine Artery Embolisation: can also help with treatment of fibroids.
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Nicknamed magic bullet therapy, now targeted alpha therapy offers hope for even metastasized, castration resistant prostate cancer( mCRPC and has changed the way metastatic prostate cancer can now be treated.
How does Magic Bullet Therapy work for Prostate Cancer ?
Prostate-specific membrane antigen radiology ( PSMA-RLT) with 177 Lu, holds great potential as the Prostate Specific Member antigen peptide binds itself specifically to prostate cancer cells but not to normal healthy cells. With a range of 0.1mm, this method allows selective irradiation, killing cancerous cells with minimal damage to healthy tissue.
The Alpha emitters work by inducing clusters of DNA damage such as double- stranded breaks and cellular cell modifications which leads to destruction of cancerous cells due to cell cycle arrest.
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The PET CT Scan is one of the sought after diagnostic tests. Let’s find out more about what is a PET CT and why is it preferred over other diagnostic tests, such as an MRI, CT Scan or an ultrasound.
What is a PET Scan?
A PET Scan is a nuclear medicine technique which produces images of the human body at a molecular level.
A PET CT uses radioactive tracers in conjugation with isotopes such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon etc. These radioisotopes act at a molecular level and work as probes which seek out disease, cancer in the body while giving out radio signals which are captured to produce an image.
This can help in the diagnosis of even the tiniest lesions, thus increasing the accuracy of the investigation, subsequent diagnosis and hence cancer treatment.
A PET CT Scan, therefore reveals a lot more about the body than standard diagnostic tests such as MRI, CT Scan or an ultrasound.
What happens during a PET Scan?
A PET CT Scan, is always on a price appointment basis as the radioisotopes, having a very short half-life need to be brought in just before the scan.
A PET CT, is usually carried out empty stomach on overnight or at least 6 hrs fasting.
The creatinine levels, need to checked prior to conducting the PET CT by simple blood tests called KFT or Kidney function test
If the creatinine levels are in order, the patient is tested for blood sugar and if found in order, the patient is given an injection of glucose with a radioactive tracer.
After the injection, the patient is made to rest for about 90 mins and then taken for the actual scan which takes about 30 mins to 45 mins depending on the imaging required.
During the scan, the patient is made to lie on a comfortable table that moves slowly through the ring like PET scanner.
After the scan, the patient can leave immediately. However close contact with others especially children and pregnant women is best avoided for the next 4-6 hrs.
It is also good to drink a lot of water, to flush out the radioactive tracer from the body.
The imaging can be seen by the doctors and the nuclear medicine specialists almost immediately for evaluation, though a formal written report takes a day to be handed over to the patient.
Are there any side effects or discomfort due to the scan?
There are no side effects or discomfort due to the PET CT Scan, except the minor prick while injecting the tracer.
The PET CT scanner also does not make any sounds while the scan is going on, unlike a few other diagnostics tests.
What are the diseases for which a PET CT Scan can be used?
The most common use case for a PET CT Scan is for detecting and treating cancer. However other applications, include diagnosing cardiac or heart problems and also neurology.
During the initial stages of the disease, a PET CT helps distinguish between benign and malignant disease and also cancer staging, that is knowing and determining the stage of the disease and also its characteristics, which further helps oncologists decide the best treatment option for the patient.
During the course of treatment, it helps determine response to therapy or cancer treatment and if the metabolic activity decreases on the PET CT Scan, the oncologists know that the drugs being administered are working.
On the other hand, if the metabolic activity on the scan increases, it indicates that the treatment option is losing its efficacy or is not working and helps oncologists change the line of treatment to benefit the patient.
Cardiac Care: Post a heart attack, a PET CT Scan can be used to determine myopathy, need for CABG or open heart surgery and if there would be any benefit from CABG or would a heart transplant or an LVAD be a better treatment option.
Neurology: Alzheimer’s at an early stage can be diagnosed using a PET Scan leading to early intervention.
A PET CT Scan helps locate tumors, distinguish between benign and malignant tumors and also scar tissue for brain surgery.
A PET CT is also useful for the treatment of epileptic seizures. It can help locate the origin and focus of seizures and assess sites for intervention if any is required.
What is the difference between a PET CT and an MRI or a CT ?
A CT or an MRI works on the physical level and can give the size and location of the tumor with accuracy.
However since both tests do not work on the molecular level, they cannot indicate metabolic activity of the tumor which only a PET CT Scan can indicate, thereby making a PET CT, a diagnostic test of choice for oncologists, cardiologists, cardiac or heart surgeons and interventional neurologists.
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