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.

Mindfulness

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.

Coffee

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.

Blood Pressure

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).​

Salt substitution effects on various body systems.

Kindle Highlight

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.