High Cholesterol

Hey everyone ūüôā First of all, I’d just like to apologise for not writing anything for a while. Life has just been so hectic with exams and other things these last couple of months, but I should be updating a lot more frequently now.

I though I would write a piece about high cholesterol seeing as I covered it in my last post about coronary heart disease and I have recently revised the topic for my AS Biology exam.

High cholesterol is, not surprisingly, the presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood. It is not a disease in itself but can lead to many diseases e.g. diabetes. The government recommends that total cholesterol levels for healthy adults should be 5mmol/L or less, with levels of LDL being 3mmol/L or less.

Cholesterol is essential for the body to function normally – it is found in the skin and cell membranes and is used to make bile and some hormones. There are two types of cholesterol:

~ High-density lipoprotein (HDL)
~ Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)

HDLs tend to carry cholesterol from the body tissues back to the liver (where it is made). The cholesterol is used up in the liver to make bile or is broken down. Thus, high levels of HDLs are associated with reducing blood cholesterol levels. HDLs reduce fatty depositions in the artery Walls and may even help to remove them. Since HDLs are unsaturated fats, these fats are thought to be more beneficial to a person’s health than saturated fats.

LDLs are made by saturated fats and they tend to carry cholesterol from the liver to the tissues. If too much saturated fat is consumed, the concentration of LDLs in the blood will rise. A high blood concentration of LDLs causes deposition in the artery walls.

As you can see, diet is a major cause of high cholesterol. You can lower your cholesterol by reducing your saturated fat intake as they will increase the levels of LDLs in your blood. Lack of exercise can also increase concentrations of LDLs and decrease concentration of HDLs.

I hope I’ve covered most of the facts about high cholesterol and I apologise if this is super long..

Home cholesterol test kits and cholesterol meters may be purchased online in UK from Valuemed

Trachelectomy: a possible panacea for early stage cervical cancer?

I recently read an article on the pros and cons of utilising trachelectomy to combat early stage cervical cancer. For those of you who are unsure, trachelectomy is essentially ¬†a surgical procedure which refers to the extraction of the cancerous cervix while the uterus and vagina are retained. Once extraction of the cancerous cervix is complete, the uterus is joined to the vagina through suturing. In addition to the cancerous cervix, the pelvic lymph nodes are removed as well. This is a precautionary measure in case the cancer has metastasised to the lymph nodes. Currently there are two types of surgical procedures which patients can choose to undertake: vaginal radical trachelectomy or abdominal radical trachelectomy. In the former, the operation is done through the vagina while the operation is done through the abdomen in the latter. The major benefit of trachelectomy is that it allows for the preservation of the uterus. This ensures that the patients’ ability to conceive children remains intact and they can continue to bear children. This offers a possible alternative to the traditional radical hysterectomy in which the entire uterus is removed. As a consequence of such hysterectomies, many patients lose their ability to bear children. However, only patients with early stage cervical cancer are eligible to undertake a trachelectomy and early stage cervical cancer only constitutes a small proportion of the total patients with cervical cancer. As a general indication, the tumour should be smaller than 2 cm in size. Furthermore, the cancer should remain localized and not have undergone metastasis and spread to the lymph nodes or even other distant sites. Just like how there are 2 sides to a coin, trachelectomy does have its fair share of side effects as well. Firstly, patients who have undertaken a trachelectomy face a higher risk of miscarriage and pre-term delivery. Secondly, the prospect of acquiring bacterial infections is also a more threatening prospect for both the mother and child due to the absence of the cervix. The cervix functions as a protective barrier which prevents bacterial infections and due to its removal, the possibility of the incidence of bacterial infections is greatly increased. Lastly although trachelectomy helps to retain the uterus, it makes the task of conceiving children a much more difficult process. The cervix aided the process of fertilization due to the secretion of cervical mucus. The cervical mucus helped in the process of transferring the sperm into the fallopian tubes for subsequent fertilization of the ovum. Due to the absence of the cervix, there is no cervical mucus to aid the transfer of the sperms into the fallopian tubes. In conclusion, trachelectomy does seem like a promising prospect but it requires further fine tuning to maximize its benefits and minimise its risks.

Applying to Medical School -CRB checks, entrance exams, work experience & A level grades

Applying to medical school these days is so much more complicated than it was in my day and more costly.

I have just been chatting to an A level student who is hoping to go to medical school this autumn and is currently sitting his A levels. He was tellling me he has two offers from UK medical schools that he has accepted and that both have asked for a CRB check to be performed (this is routine for all medical schools in UK now I think) and that he has already had one done for his first choice medical school at a cost of £44, and that he has asked the second medical school if they will accept the first CRB check performed about a month ago, but they have advised him that it must be done again as they like to have their own CRB done. So he has to stump up another £44. Last year he also had a CRB check done for his voluntary work-so in last 12 months he will have had three CRB checks.

Prior to applying to medical school he also sat several medical school entrance exams all iniated & funded by himself, attended multiple open days under his own steam & funding, attended for interviews and bought books to help him prepare for these exams. I heard recently on the news that the government was trying to make medical school more accessible to students from comprehensive schools. The costs to him of all this has run into several hundreds of pounds. If he was not incredibly determined and supported by his family I think he may well have given up. The state school he attends does not take students to open days nor help them prepare for entrance exams.

In my day it was so much simpler for students from state schools. I attended our local comprehensive school.Then you simply got reasonable O levels, studied science A levels& decided to apply for medical school. If you were really keen you did a bit of voluntary work or work experience ,but this was not obligatory as it seems to be now. I attended no open days nor sat any entrance exams. You were called for interview and if successful you got an offer & as long as you got reasonable A levels you got in. My offer from medical school was an A and 2 Bs , my husband also coming from a comprehensive school got an offer from same medical school¬†of ¬†3C’s. Medical schools seemed to have far more discretion in our day on what they offered students. They must have been realy impressed by my husband at interview as 3C’s was a very good offer although not uncommon-a friend of mine who applied from the same comprehensive school as me got a 3C’s offer from a London medical school). These sort of offers from medical schools in UK are unheard of now and the 3 As seems to be the lowest offer you are likely to get with many now asking for at least one¬†A* this year.

Now you have to get outstanding¬†GCSE’s (ideally all A’s and A*)¬†and be predicted to get all A’s and even some A* at A level. You also¬†have to attend open days, do voluntary work, gain work experience in medicine,¬† sit entrance exams for many , write an amazing personal statement, attend for interviews, all the while making sure you get outstanding AS levels and work for your A levels. Talk about pressure ! How many students in the state sector are actually going to be able to achieve all this under their own steam and with no help or funding from their schools. How will students from low income families afford to do it ?