This week I discovered some cool medical resources about blockchain, blood pressure, mindfulness, coffee and learning.
Blockchain & Healthcare
Many of us have heard the word “blockchain” in regards to cryptocurrencies. And when we think about cryptocurrencies we think about bitcoin. A cryptocurrency is a digital money and one of them is bitcoin. They are based on blockchain technology, which is a list of transactions anyone can view or verify. This enables secure payments to be made between people who don’t know each other.
What makes blockchain so exciting is its applicability on so many levels. I didn’t know that until I started reading about it, but it makes sense. If you can securely exchange money using blockchain, you can also exchange sensitive information. What is more sensitive than, for example, the human DNA sequence? Or patient records? There is a Slovenian startup called Iryo. They describe themselves as ”the first open healthcare protocol for the secure and private exchange of medical data.” There are tons more applications and I’m for sure going to share them as I discover them.
Headspace is the leading meditation app out there. During the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, they made their premium plan free for all healthcare workers in the US. This is the right thing to do. They’re on the frontline day and night. By using this app they can at least for a small fraction of their day (hopefully) relax and focus on themselves. The question I have is why this isn’t available worldwide.
How many times have you heard that coffee is bad for you? Many studies showed that coffee causes hypertension and the official advice was not to drink it at all. However, this is not completely true. The problem with the researches showing the bad effects was their unrepresentative population. Instead, coffee is associated as being healthy for the heart and liver. It also decreases the risk for some types of cancer. The new results show that french press and filter coffee have very beneficial effects and some drink 2-5 cups a day. The same goes for espresso coffee, but the recommended limit is about 2 cups per day. The worst coffee to drink is Turkish coffee. It contains cafestol and kahweol that are filtered out in other types. These two substances raise the levels of blood fat molecules and LDL. Turkish coffee is therefore not recommended. Read more in “The Diet Compass” by Bas Kast.
I came across an interesting experiment once again including salt. In Peru, they substituted traditional salt (sodium chloride) with a mixture of 25% potassium chloride and 75% sodium chloride. Interestingly, when the researchers measured the amount sodium in their population, its amount was the same as with traditional salt. However, the amount of potassium in the body was much greater. This means that people add the same amount of NaCl to food either way. The experiment resulted in 1.23mmHg/0.72mmHg (systolic/diastolic) decrease in blood pressure (BP). If this doesn’t seem significant, it’s worth mentioning that the mean age was 43.3 ± 17.2 years and the change is more profound in older people. However, the incidence of hypertension was still halved. Such a simple change and such profound changes in people’s health, and not only in regards to BP (see picture).
This highlight is not directly connected to medicine, but it is connected to learning…which is a big part of medicine:
“Platforms like Medium and LinkedIn are absolutely rife with posts about shiny new, unsupported learning hacks that lead to mind-blowingly rapid progress—from special dietary supplements and “brain-training” apps to audio cues meant to alter brain waves. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Education published a report by six scientists and an accomplished teacher who were asked to identify learning strategies that truly have scientific backing. Spacing, testing, and using making-connections questions were on the extremely short list. All three impair performance in the short term.”
From “Range” by David Epstein. Resurfaced with Readwise.