Health Information

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Prostate Cancer

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What is it?

Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the prostate that form a tumour.

Symptoms?

In the early stages of prostate cancer there may be no symptoms, which is why many cases are not detected until it has metastasized. Symptoms can include:
Need to urinate frequently
Difficulty in starting or stopping urinating
Discomfort, pain or blood when urinating
Pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs

Risk Factors

Being over 50
A family history of prostate cancer
Men with high levels of testosterone
Lifestyle factors such as a high fat, low fibre diet and obesity

Healthy Habits

You can lower your risk by:
Getting a check-up if there is a family history of prostate cancer from age 40
From age 50 onwards a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test
Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Research at the PA Hospital

The PA Hospital Campus is home to the multidisciplinary Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre (APCRC-Q), one of only two centres dedicated to prostate cancer research in the Southern Hemisphere. Identifying whether a patients' condition is slow or fast spreading to determine the appropriate level of treatment, which will in turn reduce anxiety and any unnecessary treatments and associated side effects.

Identifying molecules that can be used as an indicator for prostate cancer with the aim to develop personalised effective cancer treatments and improved clinical diagnosis and treatment monitoring. Applying the understanding of the genetic make-up and hormonal composition to develop innovative drugs and therapies to treat and cure prostate cancer.

References

Better Health Channel
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia
Mayo Clinic
Cancer Council

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Skin Cancer

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What is it?

Skin cancer is a disease of the body's skin cells which occurs when skin cells are damaged. This damage is usually caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun where the cells change or mutate to form skin cancer.

There are three main types of skin cancer:

  • melanoma – the most dangerous form of skin cancer
  • basal cell carcinoma*
  • squamous cell carcinoma*

*Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are known as non-melanoma skin cancer.

Facts

  • Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with Skin Cancer by the time they are 70 making Australia have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, four times that of Canada, US and the UK.
  • Skin cancer accounts for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers each year in Australia
  • Approximately one in 11 Queensland men and one in 19 Queensland women will be diagnosed with melanoma before the age of 85
  • Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in people aged 15-44 years
  • Skin cancer already costs the health system around $300 million annually over a decade ago, the highest cost of all cancers
  • Over 440,000 Australians are treated for skin cancer each year with 10,000 being treated for melanoma
  • Nearly 2000 people die from Skin Cancers every year
  • Using a solarium before the age of 35 boosts the risk of melanoma by 87%

What are the symptoms?

The best way to identify a skin cancer is to become familiar with the look and feel of your skin so you can pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer. The sooner a skin cancer is identified the sooner it can be treated. It is recommended that you regularly perform a skin self-examination or get a skin check from your doctor. The most common warning sign of skin cancer is a change in the appearance of the skin, such as a new growth or a sore that will not heal. Look for:

  • Any new growth that is suspicious
  • Small lumps (spot or mole) that are firm
  • Small lumps (spot or mole) that are red or pale in colour
  • Any spots, freckles or moles that change in colour, thickness or shape over a short period of time
  • A spot that doesn't heal, bleeds or becomes crusty

Keep in mind that these growths are usually painless. If you notice any changes consult your doctor. They may perform a biopsy or refer you to a specialist if they suspect skin cancer. Keep in mind these symptoms are often due to causes other than cancer.

Risk Factors

Anyone can develop skin cancer but there are certain characteristics and causes that increase the risk:

  • Getting sunburnt – this causes 95% of Melanomas the most deadly form of skin cancer
  • Tanning - a tan shows you have been exposed to enough UV radiation (sun or solarium) to damage your skin
  • Fake tan – a fake tan does not provide protection against UV radiation
  • Exposure to the sun – through work or other types of outdoor activity
  • People with fair skin tones, light coloured eyes and hair
  • People over 50
  • People who have a family history of skin cancer

Healthy Habits

There are many ways you can protect your skin from the causes of skin cancer:

  • Slip on sun protective clothing
  • Slop on SPF30+ sunscreen and reapply every two hours
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on sunglasses
  • Extra care should be taken between 10am – 3pm when UV levels reach their peak

Learn how to check your skin

Today Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) researchers are…

Professor Ian Frazer, the creator of the world's first cancer vaccine and well renowned dermatologist Professor Peter Soyer are leading the way with their collaborative skin cancer studies. Significant research being undertaken at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Campus includes:

  • A study which aims to test whether a virus infection on the skin contributes to the risk of developing skin cancer and also to test if the ability to mount an immune response also contributes to the risk of developing skin cancer
  • Investigating the treatment for surgically inoperable Stage II and III melanoma
  • Trying to uncover regulatory elements that play significant roles in the inherited predisposition to psoriasis
  • Studying the connection between kidney transplant patients and the increase in skin cancers
  • Identifying the elements and timing of morphological changes associated with the transformation from naevus (moles) to melanoma and to identify the life cycle characteristics of a normal naevus
  • Looking into how to improve drug therapy, predicting which patients will respond to therapy and how more patients can be made to respond to therapy

References

Cancer Council http://www.cancer.org.au
Sun Smart http://www.sunsmart.com.au
Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com
HealthDirect Australia http://www.healthdirect.gov.au/

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional.

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Breast Cancer

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What is it?

Breast cancer is a malignant tumour that originates in the cells of the breast. Cancer develops when the cells grow abnormally and multiply. These abnormal cells develop into cancerous growths that can, in some cases, spread (metastasise) to other areas of the body.

Breast cancer occurs predominantly in females, although men can also develop the disease, accounting for approximately 1% of cases. There is no 'one disease' that occurs in the breast, rather there are several types and sub-types of disease that may be referred to as breast cancer. These include:

• Early/invasive breast cancer

• Ductal carcinoma insitu

• Lobular carcinoma insitu

• Triple negative breast cancer

• Paget's disease of the nipple

• Inflammatory breast cancer

• Locally advanced breast cancer

• Secondary breast cancer (also known as advanced or metastatic breast cancer)

• Male breast cancer

Breast Cancer Facts

• 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer

• In 2017, it is estimated that 17,586 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer

• Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Australian women, representing 28% of all cancers in females with the majority (69%) of cases diagnosed in females aged 40-69

• On average 37 females are diagnosed with breast cancer everyday

• By 2020, 17,210 women are projected to be diagnosed with breast cancer every year in Australia. This is an average of 47 women every day. Increasing age is one of the strongest risk factors for developing breast cancer

• Australian women diagnosed with breast cancer have an 89% chance of surviving 5 years after diagnosis

• Improvements in survival are attributed to earlier detection of breast cancer through regular mammograms and improved treatment outcomes for breast cancer

• 8 women die from breast cancer each day

• Although rare, breast cancer can affect men. 1 in 688 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer

How does breast cancer affect Australians?

In 2017, breast cancer in females is expected to be the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and fourth-largest cause of cancer related deaths. It is also estimated that 3000 Australian women will lose their battle with breast cancer in 2017 – that's 8 women a day, making it the second most common cause of cancer-related death in women, after lung cancer.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom for breast cancer is a lump found in the breast or armpit. The lumps can be benign and do not spread to other parts of the body or they can be malignant (cancerous). The best way to identify breast cancer is to do a monthly breast self-exam and become familiar with your breasts' texture, cyclical changes, size and skin condition so you pick up any changes that might suggest cancer. Symptoms can include:

• Swelling, lump or thickness in the breast

• Changes to the skin of the breast such as puckering or dimpling of the skin or unusual redness or other colour change

• Unusual tenderness, breast pain or discomfort or change in size of breast

• Change in shape, crusting, pain or soreness of the nipple

• Nipple discharge that is clear or bloody that occurs without squeezing

• Swelling in the armpit

Early Detection

Like any major disease, early detection is vital. BreastScreen Australia was established in 1991 to provide free biennial screening mammograms to women aged 50-74. Incidence rates of breast cancer increased after BreastScreen was introduced, however, there has been a reduction in breast cancer mortality in women 50 to 69 years of age of approximately 36.5 per cent due to earlier diagnosis. Visit BreastScreen website to make your appointment now.

Risk Factors

While the cause of breast cancer is not fully understood, it is known that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop this disease. There are different types of risk factors, some of which can be modified and some that cannot. These include:

• A family history of breast cancer

• Already being diagnosed with a previous breast condition

• Hormonal factors such as late menopause or using a combination of hormone replacement therapy

• Child-bearing history such as not having children or having them at a later age (breastfeeding has been associated with a modest decrease in risk of breast cancer)

• Personal and lifestyle factor including increasing age, taller height, excess weight and obesity (particularly in postmenopausal females), low physical activity and alcohol consumption

Healthy habits

While you can't do anything to change the risk factors such as being a woman, getting older or your family history, there are several other things you can do to reduce your risks and stay healthy.

o Have a mammogram every two years, it can save your life

o Maintain a health body weight

o Exercise regularly, something as simple as a brisk walk is enough to reduce the risk

o Eat a healthy diet with at least five serves of vegetable and two serves of fruit per day

o Reduce your alcohol intake to no more than 2 standard drinks a day

o Don't smoke, although there is no clear link between smoking a breast cancer, toxins have been found in breast cells and smoking is a major cause of other disease and cancers

Today Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) Researchers are…..

Ongoing breast cancer research at the PAH has led to some significant studies and clinical trials and current research project include:

• Testing the effectiveness of chemotherapy dose on different body sizes of women with breast cancer and the increase in mortality

• Studying the effect different drugs have on post-menopausal women with hormone sensitive breast cancer

• Studying the effect anastrozole versus placebo in post-menopausal women who have an increased risk breast cancer

• Understanding proteins to identify biomarkers and novel therapeutic targets

• Clinical trials into developing a better treatment for ER-

Dr Fiona Simpson's groundbreaking research

Funds raised for Breast Cancer Research help support, in particular, Dr Fiona Simpson's research project which is looking at how to make current treatment resistant cancer cells, like Triple Negative Breast Cancer, respond to targeted therapy by combining a drug that has been in clinical use for over 30 years. In exciting news, the research project has received ethics permission to go into the clinical trial phase. Watch this space for further updates.

Donate to Breast Cancer Research

References

Cancer Council http://www.cancer.org.au
National Breast Cancer Foundation http://www.nbcf.org.au
Breast Cancer Network Australia http://www.bcna.org.au/

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional.

Diabetes icon

Diabetes

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Diabetes

Are you at risk? Take the Australian type 2 diabetes risk assessment tool online.

What is it?

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is unable to control the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The body produces insulin which helps converts glucose into energy but those with diabetes either don't have enough insulin or can't produce it at all, so glucose stays in the blood instead of being turned into energy, causing blood sugar levels to become high.
There are four main types of diabetes as a result of different insulin abnormalities:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Pre-diabetes

If not treated or managed correctly diabetes can lead to nerve damage, blindness and organ failure.

Facts

  • Diabetes is Australia's fastest growing chronic disease
  • 280 Australians develop diabetes everyday
  • Diabetes costs the economy $10.3 billion in carer, productivity, health system and obesity related costs
  • Is the 6th highest cause of death by disease in Australia
  • It is estimated that 3.2 million Australians have diabetes and pre-diabetes
  • By 2031 it is estimated that 3.3 million Australians will have type 2 diabetes
  • Up to 60% of type 2 diabetes can be prevented
  • There are almost 23,000 new cases in Queensland each year

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms for diabetes are quite subtle and are often put down to normal daily stresses, age or general wear and tear. Sometimes there are even no symptoms; however, being diagnosed early is a key priority. Some symptoms are common in all diabetes such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Feeling tired and fatigued
  • Muscle cramps
  • Constant hunger
  • Skin infections and slow healing sores
  • Blurred vision
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Irritability and mood swings

Risk Factors

There are no risk factors when it comes to type 1 diabetes; however there are a number of risk factors for type 2 diabetes:

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes
  • Developing diabetes during pregnancy
  • Are more than 40 years of age
  • Are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander decent
  • Are overweight with a body mass index > 25
  • Lead an inactive and sedentary lifestyle
  • Have a poor diet with too much fatty and sugary food
  • Have high blood pressure or a heart attack or stroke

Healthy Habits

Some risk factors can't be helped but by making several changes to your lifestyle, you can help prevent diabetes:

  • Reduce the amount of calories in your diet
  • Eat a healthier diet and include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetable
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce your alcohol intake
  • Manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Avoid smoking

Today Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) Researchers are…

The PAH is a major referral centre for diabetes treatment in Queensland. It is the only Queensland wide service for management of type 1 diabetes following either pancreatic or kidney transplants and obesity management service aiming to prevent type 2 diabetes and the associate complications. Researchers are currently:

  • Working on a blood test to identify those at risk of developing T1, and then tailoring treatments to prevent the disease
  • Health and fitness programs are being trialled for the prevention and management of T2 and associated conditions
  • Research trials of "lifestyle intervention" are taking place by enrolling patients in a diet and exercise program over months and years to measure the benefits of the program on heart disease, diabetes, weight, fitness and requirement for medications
  • Studying how to improve the diagnosis of diabetic retinal disease at an early stage where effective treatment could prevent blindness
  • PAH clinicians are involved in an international collaboration with UK scientists to develop novel corneal screening method to detect diabetic nerve damage
  • PAH clinicians are studying how to improve the diagnosis of diabetic retinal disease at an early stage where effective treatment could prevent blindness.
  • Progress in developing a 'cure' for type 1 diabetes has been hindered by a lack of understanding of how to 'turn off' the immune responses that destroy the insulin-producing cells. Researchers at the PAH are currently developing and testing immunotherapy drugs in preclinical models of type 1 diabetes
  • PAH researchers are developing a novel way to manage type 2 Diabetes in the community, including the use of information technology to assist patients self manage and the development of a telephone counselling service for maintenance of weight loss in type 2 diabetic patients
  • PAH clinicians are researching the impact of improved insulin sensitivity through modifications of lifestyle or drug treatment on vascular and cardiovascular function

References

Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com
Diabetes Australia http://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare http://www.aihw.gov.au/diabetes/

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional.

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Arthritis

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Arthritis

What is it?

Arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks joints and surrounding tissues causing painful swelling of the joints. The word "arthritis" literally means "inflammation of the joint" and is an umbrella term which covers more than 100 musculoskeletal conditions. It can be a mild, moderate or severe pain or stiffness in and around one or more joints, muscles and connective tissues of the body. The most common types of this condition are:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gout
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Juvenile arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
  • Scleroderma

Arthritis Facts

  • Nearly 1 in 5 Australians have arthritis
  • Arthritis has an impact on over 3.85 million people (18.5% of the population)
  • By 2050 it is projected that 7 million Australians will be suffering from arthritis
  • Arthritis costs the economy $23.9 billion per year
  • It is Australia's major cause of disability and chronic pain
  • Arthritis is not just an 'old persons' disease, 2.4 million of all people diagnosed are of working age
  • Children can get arthritis

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms and signs of arthritis involve the joints. It all depends on what kind of arthritis you have as to what your symptoms are, but the most common are:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Inflammation
  • Stiffness, swelling, warmth and/or redness
  • Decreased range of motion

Risk Factors

Some risk factors for developing arthritis include:

  • Family history as some types of arthritis run in families
  • Gender, as women account for 60% of those diagnosed. However, some types of arthritis is are more common in men, such as gout
  • Though people of all ages can develop arthritis, it is more common the older you get
  • Smoking can increase the risk of developing certain types of arthritis
  • Environmental factors such as excessive stress on a joint from performing a repetitive task, a repeated injury or being overweight
  • Genetics

Health habits

There are some risk factors for developing arthritis that can't be changed but there are several other things you can do to reduce your risks and stay healthy:

  • Exercise regularly, it provides considerable benefits for some types of arthritis
  • Protect your joints and try to minimise the trauma they experience
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Reduce your alcohol intake and avoid smoking
  • Make sure you get enough vitamin D as this builds and strengthens bones

Today Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) researchers are…

The PAH is home to groundbreaking arthritis research including:

  • A world first study is underway in demonstrating that a vaccine made from a patients own blood cell can safely modify (reduce or desenitize) the body's immune systems response to a specific rheumatoid arthritis antigen; a substance that the body recognises as foreign
  • Researching the effectiveness of cholesterol-lowering medicine in reducing the progression of in early rheumatoid arthritis

References

Arthritis Australia http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au
Arthritis Foundation http://www.arthritis.org/
Healthinsite http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional.

Liver disease icon

Liver Disease

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Liver Disease

What is it?

Liver disease is any type of damage to the liver which disrupts the normal functions of the liver. The liver is responsible for many critical functions of the body, it breaks down harmful substances, removes waste products from the blood, stores nutrients and vitamins and moderates chemical levels in the body. If the liver becomes diseased or injured, the loss of these functions can cause significant damage to the body.

There are over 100 different forms of liver disease that affect men, women and children but the most common types are:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Autoimmune liver disease
  • Genetic liver disease
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Liver cancer
  • Alcoholic liver disease

Facts

  • Liver disease affects over two million Australians and is now the most rapidly increasing health condition worldwide
  • More than 2000 Australians die each year from chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and cancers of the liver, gall bladder and bile ducts
  • There are no treatments for fatty liver disease which, as a result, will increase the demand for transplants
  • Many forms of liver disease are preventable and many more, if detected early, can be treated effectively
  • Fatty liver disease may affect many of the 30% of adults in Australia who are overweight
  • Hepatitis B and C significantly increase the risk of liver cancer
  • Liver disease is a major complication in children and young adults with cystic fibrosis
  • Between 15 and 20 Australian children each year are born with biliary atresia, an aggressive liver disease responsible for 60% of all paediatric liver transplants

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of liver disease vary depending on the disorder, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Jaundice (discolouration of the skin and eyes)
  • Fever, nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine colour
  • Pale or bloody stool
  • Appetite loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in mood, confusion and poor concentration

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of liver disease include:

  • The exchange of bodily fluids (a job where you are exposed to other peoples blood and body fluids, unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing unsterilised drug injecting equipment, using non-sterilised equipment for tattoos or body piercings)
  • Chemical exposure
  • Long term excessive alcohol consumption
  • Having an already existing hereditary liver disease
  • Having an overdose from acetaminophen
  • Being obese
  • Having diabetes
  • Certain medications may irritate blood vessels

Healthy Habits

Some risks factors can't be reduced, however there are many things you can do to help keep your liver healthy:

  • Minimise your contact with other peoples blood and body fluids
  • Drink alcohol in moderation or don't drink at all if you already have liver problems
  • If you get any tattoos or piercings, make sure it is in a clean and safe environment
  • Get vaccinated for hepatitis A and B
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise
  • Only use medication when needed and don't mix it with alcohol
  • Be careful with chemicals, insecticides, paint and other toxins, follow the manufacturers instructions and avoid contact on your skin

Today Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) researchers are…

Researchers at the Princess Alexandra Hospital are:

  • Investigating the relationships between gut bacteria and the severity of liver disease, with the hope to identify therapeutic targets to limit disease progression
  • Studying the pathological mechanisms balancing healing and fibrosis which will provide essential knowledge develop safe, effective treatments


References

Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
The Australian Liver Foundation http://www.liver.org.au
Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional.

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Spinal Injury

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Spinal Injuries

What is it?

Spinal injuries refer to the damage of any part of the spinal cord or nerves at the end on the spinal canal. The spinal cord contains the nerves that carry messages between your brain and body. Spinal injuries occur when pressure is applied to the spinal cord and/or the blood and oxygen supply to the cord is cut off. The spinal cord can also become damaged as a result of the late effects of polio or inflammation that may have resulted from viral infections or abnormal immune reaction.

Damage to the spinal cord is described as "incomplete" or "complete" depending on the degree of injury. "Incomplete" can be an injury with movement and sensation abnormalities, while "complete" usually means a total loss of movement and sensation or permanent paralysis.

Paralysis is determined by the level and degree of injury to the spinal cord. Paraplegia is when someone still has the full use of their hands, arms and shoulders (usually an upper or lower back spinal cord injury) while those who are quadriplegic are not able to as their injury has occurred in the neck.

Facts

Spinal injuries are a devastating experience and can happen to anyone at any time. It is a permanent and irreversible injury with prevention the only cure:

  • Approximately 42% of all spinal injuries occur in those aged between 15-30 years
  • Over 10,000 people in Australia have a spinal cord injury
  • In Queensland on average 1 person sustains a spinal cord injury every four days – around 90 injuries every year
  • Approximately 60% of spinal cord injuries result in paraplegia while 40% result in quadriplegia
  • 53% of injuries occur as a result of road trauma, 12% through sporting accidents and 23% through everyday accidents
  • Over 80% of those treated for spinal cord injuries were male
  • The average hospital stay in Queensland for a spinal injury patient is 180 days
  • Often, spinal cord injuries result in secondary conditions which require acute hospitalisation and physical and psychological rehabilitation
  • 90% about what is currently known about spinal cord injuries has been learnt in the last 20 years
  • The total cost of spinal cord injury in Australia is estimated to be $2 billion annually

What are the symptoms?

Spinal cord injuries cause weakness and loss of feeling at or below the site of injury. Sometimes the injury isn't always obvious. The symptoms or signs of a spinal injury include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness, pressure or tingling sensation in hands, arms, legs or feet
  • Loss of movement
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Loss of sensation, including the ability to feel heat, cold and touch
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty walking and with balance
  • Twisted neck, back or head in an unusual position
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lack of alertness

Risk Factors

Most spinal injuries happen as the result of an accident and can happen to anyone at any time, but there are certain factors that can increase your risk:

  • Being male
  • Aged between 15-30
  • Engaging in risky behaviour or physical activities
  • Not wearing the correct safety gear
  • Having a bone or joint disorder

Healthy Habits

As most spinal injuries result from accidents, there aren't many precautions you can take, however you can reduce your risk by:

  • Drive safely because road trauma is the leading cause of an injury
  • Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a car; make sure children are restrained correctly
  • Do not drink and drive
  • Do not dive in pools, lakes, rivers and other bodies of water without checking the depth.
  • Prevent falls by using handrails along stairways, using nonslip mats and removing any hazards at home
  • Take precautions when playing sports or doing physical activity, do not tackle or dive into someone with your head

Today Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) researchers are…

The Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) Spinal Injuries Unit (SIU) is the only facility for primary rehabilitation, transitional rehabilitation, outpatient services and outreach services for people with acute spinal cord injury in Queensland and Northern New South Wales. Studies are underway in:

  • The worlds first clinical trial in which nasal stem cells are taken from people with paraplegia, grown in the lab and transplanted into their own injured spinal cord has set a precedent for future clinical trials using adult stem cells
  • Studies are been undertaken into vulnerable road users, illegal and high-risk behaviours, human behaviour and technology interface; school and community-based road safety education; and fleet and workplace safety.
  • The application of engineering and technology with clinical expertise into the treatment and investigation of spinal deformity, back pain, spinal injuries and diseases
  • Developing new solutions to wound care and translating these findings to improve patient's health
  • Developing drug-based treatment for spinal cord injury to stimulate regrowth of the neurons.
  • Therapeutic options are being developed for pressure ulcers which are a significant and common complication with a spinal cord injury
  • Research into physical activity and disability, including increasing physically active behaviour among people with disabilities and the development and evaluation of classification systems in disability sport
  • Determining the effectiveness of FES-assisted cycling compared to passive cycling on muscle cross-sectional area of thigh and calf and comparing the two in respect to neurological function and body composition, and depression and quality of life
  • Documenting the trajectories of long term outcomes such as body functions/structures, activities, participation and quality of life after a spinal cord injury.
  • Investigating the long term utilization of environmental control units and the reasons behind success or failure of these devices.

References

Spinal Injuries Association http://www.spinal.com.au/
Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com
Spinal Cord Injuries Australia http://scia.org.au/

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional

Kidney disease icon

Kidney Disease

Kidney Disease

What is it?

Kidney disease is when the nephrons (the tiny parts of the kidney that filter the blood to make urine) inside your kidneys are damaged, leading to a build up of waste and fluids inside the body. The kidneys play a major role in maintaining general health and wellbeing and if both fail, the body then shuts down. There are 2 main types of kidney disease:

  • Acute kidney failure which can happen quickly as a result of losing large amounts of blood, an infection or accident, it is short lived but can occasionally lead to lasting kidney damage
  • Chronic kidney disease is the gradual worsening of kidney function over several years, in many cases it is preventable and early detection and treatment can help prevent kidney failure

Treatment for kidney disease includes dialysis, kidney transplantation or conservative care.

Facts

  • Over 50 people die every day with kidney related disease
  • One in nine Australians (1.7 million) have at least one clinical sign of chronic kidney disease such as reduced kidney function and blood or protein in the urine
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a higher rate of kidney failure and are four times as likely to die from chronic kidney disease
  • The top three causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes, inflammation of the kidney and hypertensive vascular disease
  • 864 kidney transplants were performed in 2010
  • 1,135 people were waiting for a kidney transplant as at the start of 2012
  • The average waiting time for a transplant is 4 years, but waits of up to 7 years are common
  • On average 1 Australian a week dies waiting for a transplant

What are the symptoms?

A person can lose up to 90% of their kidney function before experiencing any symptoms. Symptoms of reduced kidney function include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Increased or decreased frequency of urination
  • Changes in colour or blood in urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Itching
  • Feeling tired or difficulty sleeping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches and light-headedness
  • Swelling or puffiness in the hands, legs and eyes
  • Pain in the kidney or chest area
  • Bad breath and metallic taste in the mouth

Risk Factors

One in three Australian's has at least one risk factor for developing kidney disease. You are at increased risk of chronic kidney disease if you:

  • Are 60 years or older
  • Have a family history of kidney disease
  • Are of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander decent
  • Have diabetes
  • Already have established heart problems
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are obese
  • Are a smoker

Healthy Habits

It is important to remember that people can live a near normal life with as little as 20% of their total kidney function. There are many things you can do to reduce your risk of kidney disease, especially if you are at increased risk:

  • Be aware of your family history and see your doctor for a kidney health check
  • Become a non smoker
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks
  • Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • If you have diabetes, maintain good blood glucose control
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Avoid high salt foods and reduce salt intake

Today Princess Alexandra Hospital researchers are…

The Princess Alexandra Hospital is home to the Centre for Kidney Disease Research and researchers are currently:

  • Identifying a new, low cost, nutrition intervention that could impact on kidney disease outcomes and decrease the heightened cardiovascular disease risk
  • Studying the emerging role of key kidney failure toxins as novel risk factors for both cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease progression
  • Investigating whether an inflammatory hormone circulating in the bloodstream of dialysis patients, called interleukin-6, can be used to identify which patients are at risk of premature heart disease
  • Studies to understand how different immunosuppressive therapies influence the risk of non melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) in kidney transplant patients with the hope to tailor drug therapy to improve patient outcomes
  • Studies into better treatment for kidney patients after transplant to alleviate the chronic rejection that can sometimes occur

References

Kidney Health Australia http://www.kidney.org.au
Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare http://www.aihw.gov.au/chronic-kidney-disease/

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional.


Mental health icon

Mental Health

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Mental Health

What is it?

Mental health refers to a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, not just being absent of disease. Mental disorders or illness refer to illnesses that affect the mind in a similar way a physical illness can affect the body. These disorders affect your mood, thinking and behaviour. Episodes of mental illness can come and go in periods throughout people's lives. There are two main categories:

  • Depression and anxiety disorders – feelings of depression, sadness and fear that affect a person's ability to cope with day-to-day activities. These conditions include anxiety disorders, eating disorders and depression
  • Psychotic illness – psychosis affects the brain and causes changes in a person's thinking, emotions and behaviour These illnesses include schizophrenia and bipolar disorder

Facts

  • Almost half of all Australian's will experience mental illness at some time in their life
  • 20% of Australians will experienced some form of mental illness each year and about 3% will be seriously affected
  • Depression is predicted to be one of the world's largest health problems by 2020
  • At least one third of young people have experience a mental illness by the age of 25
  • Mental illnesses are not purely "psychological' and have many physical features
  • Mental illness is not life-threatening but up to 15% of people seriously affected by mental illness eventually die by suicide
  • Mental illness accounts for more than a third of all health costs for adults aged 15-44 years
  • An average person with cancer, diabetes, stroke or coronary heart disease will stay four times longer in hospital if they also experience a mental illness
  • It is estimated that up to 85% of homeless people have a mental illness
  • The lifetime risk of someone with mental illness such as schizophrenia seriously harming or killing another person is just 0.005%. They are more likely to hurt themselves or be hurt by someone else

What are the symptoms?

Depending on the disorder the symptoms of a mental illness can vary, however it is generally a combination of irregular emotions, thoughts and behaviours:

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Extreme mood changes of high and low
  • Loss of interest or withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Suicidal thinking
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Inability to concentrate or cope with daily problems and stress
  • Excessive fears, worries or suspiciousness
  • Confused thinking
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Expressions of indifference or hopelessness
  • Excessive hostility, anger or violence
  • Changes in sleeping patterns, low energy levels or being unable to sleep
  • Unexplained aches and pains

Risk Factors

Mental Illness is thought to be, caused by a variety of genetic and environmental factors:

  • Having a biological (blood) relative with a mental illness
  • Being exposed to viruses, toxins, alcohol or drugs while in the womb
  • Experiencing negative or stressful life situations such as financial problems, death or divorce
  • Having a chronic medical condition
  • Having a traumatic experience such as being physically or sexually abused
  • Having few friends or few healthy relationships
  • Using illegal drugs
  • Having a previous mental illness

Healthy Habits

Many environmental risk factors are out of our control and we cannot choose our genetics, but by staying physically and mentally healthy you can lower your risk of developing a mental illness:

  • Develop and maintain good relationships with people around you
  • Take time for yourself to relax and rest and do the things your enjoy
  • Take care of yourself with a healthy diet and regular exercise
  • Keep your mind active and challenge yourself
  • Be aware of your stress levels and how you react
  • Ask for help
  • For those that have been diagnosed with a mental illness it is important to:
  • Stick to your treatment plan
  • Avoid alcohol and drug use
  • Stay physically active
  • Manage your time and energy
  • Develop a positive attitude

Today Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) researchers are…

Princess Alexandra Hospital based researchers are currently:

  • Evaluating the effect that supported accommodation and programs for people with severe and persistent mental illnesses have on the public mental health system
  • Investigating the nature of the dynamic relationship between mental illness and criminal offending, focusing on identifying interventions to prevent individuals experiencing mental illness from offending and reoffending, and identifying appropriate strategies to manage and treat mentally ill offenders
  • Studying the effect the increase in 'alcopops' tax has on the psychological and physical alcohol-related harm in young people
  • Researching an intervention to increase the physical health of mental health patients
  • Assessing the impact of health effects such as mental health problems, economic losses, population displacement and disruptions to health services as a result of the 2011 floods in southeast Queensland and the Northern Territory
  • Studies show that there is a strong association between childhood trauma and development of psychotic illnesses in young adulthood, researchers are examining more closely the association in a first episode population
  • Seeking to explore and compare the experience of treatment, the return to the community and family, the revision of the sense of self and strategies used to regain identity and hope for the future between those who have attained remission/recovery from psychosis and those who have not
  • Trialling an interactive music therapy environment whereby music therapy clinicians engage adults with acquired brain injury (ABI) in a therapeutic songwriting experience in a face to face and online context

References

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2013 http://www.aihw.gov.au/mental-health/
Reach Out http://au.reachout.com/
Sane Australia http://www.sane.org
healthinsite http://www.healthinsite.gov.au

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional.

Heart disease icon

Heart Disease

Heart Disease

What is it?

Heart disease generally refers to any disease, condition or illness of the heart that causes damage or loss to the heart structure, function or the blood vessels supplying the heart. This damage to the heart can lead to angina and heart attacks as the coronary arteries which supply the heart with blood and oxygen become narrow or blocked. There are many types of heart conditions:

  • Heart attack
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Familial hypercholesterolaemia
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart failure
  • Palpitations
  • Angina
  • Coronary artery spasm
  • Children's heart problems

Facts

  • Coronary heart disease places a huge burden on our health care system and is the leading cause of death in Australia.
  • Heart disease effects 1 in every 6 Australians
  • There are approximately 55,000 heart attacks in Australia each year, that's one heart attack every 10 minutes
  • Almost 10,000 Australians die of heart attack each year
  • One in four people who die from a heart attack die within the first hour of their first symptoms
  • To minimise heart damage from a heart attack, people need to be treated within 90 minutes of their first symptom
  • Women are four times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer
  • The prevalence of heart disease has increased by nearly 20% in the last decade
  • If you are male, 40 and live in Australia, your chance of having a heart attack by the age of 70 years is one in two
  • If you are female, 40 and live in Australia, your chance of having a heart attack by the age of 70 years is one in three
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are almost three times as likely to have a major coronary event (such as a heart attack) then non-Indigenous Australians
  • People living in remote locations have a 10% higher risk of death from heart disease than residents in major cities, and those in very remote locations have a 30% higher risk

What are the symptoms?

Heart disease symptoms vary depending on what kind of heart condition you have but the most common ones are:

  • Chest pain such as a discomfort, heaviness, pressure, aching, burning, fullness, squeezing or sharp pain. These symptoms can also be felt in the arms, shoulders, back, jaw or throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations (irregular or skipped heart beats)
  • Fainting, dizziness or feeling light headed
  • Feeling fatigue or weak

Other symptoms can include:

  • Swollen feet, ankles or hands or abdomen
  • Sweating, feeling nauseous or vomiting

Risk Factors

Heart disease for the most part is preventable. There is no single cause for heart disease but there are some risk factors that increase your chance of developing it. One in four Australians have three or more risk factors:

  • Increasing age
  • Being male
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Smoking, both active and second hand smoke
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Being overweight
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having diabetes
  • Poor nutrition
  • Having depression or are socially isolated

Healthy Habits

To help lower your risk of developing heart disease there are several lifestyle changes you can apply:

  • Not smoking
  • Eating well, include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meat, nuts, seeds, legumes and fish and reduce your salt, saturated fat, alcohol, take away and confectionary intake
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active
  • Mange blood pressure
  • Mange cholesterol levels
  • If you have diabetes, make sure its treated and managed correctly
  • Be socially active and maintain a positive attitude

Today Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) Researchers are…

Researchers at the PAH are undertaking several projects and studies to help save lives:

  • Testing the effectiveness of delivering a real-time, group-based individualised rehabilitation session into the homes of heart failure patients via an internet-based Telerehabilitation system with the aim of decreasing hospital readmissions and mortality
  • Primary aldosteronism (PA) is the commonest specifically treatable and potentially curable form of high blood pressure, a common disease, expensive to treat. Researchers are developing and validating an alternative and more reliable method of detection and diagnosis of PA
  • Heart Failure is an increasing common disease in Australia. For many patients who had suffered heart failure they remain on medications indefinitely. Cardiology researchers are conducting a clinical trial on the optimal adjustment of heart failure medication in order to develop personalised therapy regimes
  • Valvular heart disease is common and often requires treatment such as valve replacement. In recent years Aortic valve reconstructive surgery has been shown to have benefits for patients over valve replacement. Researchers are studying predictors of successful valve repair, and to potentially improve surgical techniques to maintain long-term successful repair
  • Type 2 diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease in Australia today and can lead to the cardiovascular disease. Researchers are using state-of-the-art cardiac imaging and biochemical techniques to better understand and track disease progression to identify which drugs and therapies are successful in slowing progression leading to better patient outcomes

References

Heart Foundation https://www.heartfoundation.org.au
Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
World Heart Federation http://www.world-heart-federation.org/
Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com

Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional.