Health round-up: Bone health, healthcare satisfaction and IVF app
A weekly round-up of Australia's latest healthcare news.
Keeping bone marrow young
Researchers have demonstrated that load-bearing movements are the best form of exercise for healthy bone marrow. If it is not kept healthy, bone marrow can turn from a healthy-reddish colour into a fatty yellow as it ages.
Researchers at Deakin University compared the effects of exercise on the health of bone marrow, using long-distance runners, habitual joggers, high-volume cyclists and a non-sporting group as research subjects.
At the end of the study, long-distance runners had the healthiest marrow. They were even ahead of the cyclists, who have similar levels of overall health.
“Runners, who undergo repeated cycles of higher spinal loading than cyclists, are known to have higher vertebral bone density and we showed they maintained low levels of bone-marrow fat. It was the impact-loading activities that were shown to build bone tissue.” Lead researcher and associate professor Daniel Belavy said in a statement.
Even the habitual joggers, who jogged at least 20km per week, showed improvement in bone marrow health. This leads Belavy to believe any amount of jogging is beneficial. “You don’t need to be a long-distance runner to gain benefits,” he said.
Bone marrow is the primary organ responsible for creating the body's red and white blood cells and platelets.
Older Australians happy with the Australian healthcare system
Australians 65+ are satisfied with the performance of the national healthcare system, although they do not rate it as highly as other countries’ citizens rate theirs.
An international study comparing older citizens’ attitudes toward their respective healthcare systems puts Australia 9th out of 11 countries in satisfaction levels. The other countries are Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Despite being nearly last on the list, older Australians aren't that begrudged. This cohort comprises more than 3.7 million of Australia's population, and the study shows that 71% of them are satisfied with their care down under.
Australia excels in satisfaction toward GPs. When asked about the level of care provided by their primary care providers, 81% of Australians answered positively, behind only New Zealand. Australia is last when it comes to how older Australians perceive care around issues of emotional distress (only 29% positive).
The study is called the Commonwealth Fund International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults and involved more than 24,000 people.
IVF app hopes to reduce anxiety in hopeful mothers
Virtus Health, a provider of reproductive services in Australia, has released an app they hope will help reduce anxiety and boost confidence in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
The IVF process can be complicated, overwhelming and nerve-wracking for hopeful mothers, and the app promises to give them more clarity into their treatment cycles. It also offers a secure method of communication between the patient and her care providers.
“A diagnosis of medical infertility sparks a feeling of loss of control. We believe this app is more than just a practical tool and will generate positive feelings about the treatment,” Virtus Group CEO Sue Channon said in a statement.
Channon says the app is the first app of its kind in the IVF category worldwide, but it is currently only available for iOS.
What else is happening?
A team of Australian researchers think they have found a way to reduce incidents of tuberculosis (TB) around the world.
The world-first randomised controlled trial, led by the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, enlisted 25,000 household members of more than 10,000 TB patients in Vietnam. By screening other members of the household for TB (not just the sufferer), they were able to get 2.5 times as many people onto life-saving treatments, while reducing the death rate by 40%.
The impact could be huge, as more than 10 million people fall ill with tuberculosis each year, and 1.7 million of them will die.
Researchers believe they have conclusively demonstrated that it is not enough to wait for sufferers to show symptoms to begin treatment.
“It’s current practice in most TB-affected countries to seek diagnosis and treatment for a patient once they show typical TB symptoms like a persistent, phlegmy cough,” associate professor Greg Fox said in a statement. “But it’s become increasingly apparent that many sufferers don’t actually have symptoms, and therefore remain in their community undiagnosed, untreated and highly contagious.”
The findings will be used to inform World Health Organization TB guidelines, but further work is required to understand how best to implement the approach country by country.
Each week our round-up offers a summary of the latest developments impacting Australian healthcare and most importantly, you, the consumer. Check in every Thursday to find out what's happening in health.
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