Medical Student Stethoscope-which is the best one to choose ?

Use your medical student discount coupon to purchase a Littmann Classic 11SE

Use your medical student discount coupon to purchase a Littmann Classic 11 SE

This is a recurring question from medical students just about to embark on clinical studies, and from their parents who often wish to buy a stethoscope as a gift.

If you can afford to opt for a Littmann Classic 11 SE Stethoscope as this is the stethoscope that most medical students in the UK will use, and that most doctors trained with, and many still use in their everyday clinical practice. At around £50 it offers excellent acoustic performance, at an affordable price. It also comes in a huge array of tube colours & finishes, which means their should be one that suits you.

For final year medical students a Littmann Dual 111 Cardiology stethoscope at around £108 plus VAT,  can be a good choice as it can help them in picking up heart murmurs during their final exams.


Valuemed Coupon Code Spring 2013

Spring has finally arrived in the UK so here is our Spring 5% online discount coupon code

  • Coupon code is sp5
  • Use at
  • Can also be used at the drug testing website UK Drug Testing
  • Free standard UK delivery when you spend over £75 on goods net VAT in a single transaction.
  • Free UK mainland courier delivery when you spend over £250 on goods net VAT in a single transaction

Neuroscience Findings Show Us How to Have a Happy Baby

 Neuroscience is definitely in fashion. Hardly a day goes by without a new finding about the incredible human brain being broadcast on TV or in the papers.  President Obama in his State of the Union address in February revealed his ambitious plan to comprehensively map the workings of the human brain.  While we wait for these exciting developments to occur, research over the past couple of decades has already provided us with facts and information that will delight and amaze you-

A baby grows 250,000 brain cells for each minute of a woman’s pregnancy. Yes, that’s right, a quarter of a million specialist brain cells for every 60 seconds that passes!

With that hard to imagine brainpower, it is clear to see that for each and every baby, the sky is the limit! He or she has the potential to do and achieve so much in their life. However, it is not the number of brain cells that will determine the person they will become – it is how those cells become connected that is so vital to their development and their future and even their levels of happiness.

Brain cells connect as a result of experiences. These are the experiences and opportunities that we, as parents and carers, will give to our babies.

The most important thing of all is to try to understand our baby. We all know that babies cry, sometimes a lot and it is exhausting.  But by understanding what he or she is telling you when they cry can help parents better deal with the tiredness and stress.  Learning what they need even before they are born, and at different stages of their development is the key.

Did you know…

·    At birth, your baby behaves instinctively. He or she, knows how to feed, to cry, to sleep and less obviously, to focus on close up things like your face as you feed them.

·     But they also have an incredible instinct to copy your facial expressions. If not too dopey, within minutes of being born, many babies actually are able to copy their parents sticking out their tongue. They are not even aware they are imitating, it is just an inbuilt reflex – do try it if you get the chance.

·    Continuing to play this game during a baby’s the first few weeks will help parent and baby get to know each other. Baby will love it, and gradually they will learn to copy a smile.

·    The more you smile at a baby, the more they will smile at you! The more you and your baby smile, the more happy chemicals (such as endorphins) are produced in both of your brains, and this, in turn, sets an internal regulator to recognise this as a good default level of happiness.

·    The reverse situation of this is also true. If the stress levels in our babies are regularly high, it leads to chronically elevated cortisol levels. High cortisol levels are associated with the permanent brain changes causing elevated responses to stress throughout life, such as higher blood pressure and heart rate.

Neuroscience explains so much about why babies behave the way they do, and just as importantly about our own, adult behaviour.  Our early experiences literally shape our brain and set the foundations for our future.

Just a little knowledge in the right areas will have a huge influence on you and a baby’s life. It helps you to cope and make confident choices about how you parent, that are right for you; for your baby and strong family life.

·    So neuroscience really can help a baby be a happy baby.

Find out more about your own brain preferences by doing the short quiz in the free taster session of Hand in Hand Learning’s ‘How Babies Learn’ course. Do share your thoughts with us. We’ would love to read your comments.

Sandra Nunes Vaz is a partner in Hand in Hand Learning. She has written and delivered courses to parents about how babies and children learn for over 10 years.  How Babies Learn is now available online as a 6 session downloadable course from their website,

How Medical Technologies are Revolutionising Everyday Treatments

Medical professionals worldwide look to technology to drive through improvements in treatment, research and patient care.

From the invention of the ultrasound scan in the 1950’s to the world’s first computerised bionic leg in 2012, technology allows us to see the human body in new ways and to diagnose and map treatment and recovery with increasing efficiency. Sometimes real breakthroughs have sprung from collaborations with other fast-developing industries such as engineering or computer software development.

Here is an overview of some widespread and groundbreaking technological developments in recent years:

Filmless Radiology
Hospitals all over the globe are making a commitment towards achieving filmless radiology, which means that when a patient has an x-ray or scan, the image is transferred directly to a computer screen. The benefits of filmless radiology include being able to distribute images quickly and use computer programmes to map out pre-operative plans including programmes for fracture management, which can apply electronic templates to x-ray scans to work out the right course of treatment for mending breaks without wasting resources. Advances in radiology also allow us to see further into the body without resorting to surgery. Organs, such as the heart, which were once considered inaccessible by traditional one-dimensional x-rays, are now more easily examined.

Nanopore Sequencing
Nanopore sequencing works by passing a single strand of DNA through a protein pore formed in a membrane (imagine threading a piece of hair through a thin piece of fabric). Next an electric current is streamed through the pore. ‘DNA bases’ are the building blocks of the double helix DNA structure and they disrupt the electrical current in different ways, which allows the sequencing machine to electronically read out the sequence and interpret DNA bases directly. The technology could make genome sequencing faster, cheaper, and even handy enough to allow doctors to order sequencing as they would a routine blood test, making the technology accessible to more and more patients. DNA sequencing can help to identify mutations in cancerous tumors and personalize a patient’s treatment.

Heart Pumps
A shining example of collaboration between industries can be seen in the development of the Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) in the 1990’s.  NASA engineers in Houston worked with Doctors to develop an artificial heart pump, which was based on the space shuttle’s own fuel pumps. The pump helps to keep people healthy as they await heart transplants — and can, on occasion, remove the need for a transplant. In the UK in 2009, surgeons removed a donor heart from a toddler after her own VAD assisted heart had recovered.

Bendable Microchips
In 2012 a Belgian company introduced the bendable microchip, which measures just 30 micrometers in length (that’s 3 hundredths of a millimeter) and can be inserted directly into the human body, where it can internally process and relay important information about changes in a patient’s physiological condition.  These innovative microchips are made from ‘off the shelf’ computer microchips, which are ground down to create their tiny flexible counterparts. This technology is still in prototype stage but could signal a major shift in patient monitoring and speed of diagnosis.

Charlotte is a freelance science and technology writer.

Cancer: Proliferation and Resistance to Cytotoxic Drugs

Cancer. A word synonymous with fear. The diagnosis of cancer can be extremely disheartening and to most is associated with death.  However, over time the treatment for cancer has come to be very promising with survival rates increasing each year.

However, it has come to knowledge that the cytotoxic drugs used to treat cancerous tumours are being inhibited by the body. Cells in the body normally contain proteins which aide with the efflux of toxins such as in the blood barrier and gut. However these proteins can also use this technique to actively transport a drug across the plasma membrane and out of the cell. These proteins are called multidrug resistance-associated proteins (MRP) which to the family of ATP-binding cassette ABC transporter proteins. 

  The MRPs are needed for cell maintenance and homeostasis but can cause serious damage. There are however inhibitors of MRPs such as MK571. The MK571 will inhibit the effect of certain MRPs and can allow cancer sufferers to be rid of drug resistance. MK571 blocks T cell activation, and as MRPs use T cell lymphocytes to destroy the drugs they display on the cell surface membrane, it results in the halting of drug inhibition.

Although MRPs have been found to affect the cytotoxic drug activity, they are now known to affect cell motility and proliferation.  Cell motility and proliferation are essential for growth and in turn life.  This is a separate notion from MRPs affecting cytotoxic drugs and so it can be assumed that MRPs affect the development of cancer before the use of drugs. Therefore the study of MRPs and their activity is vital for to maintain the high survival rates from cancer.

Complementary medicine: Bane or blessing?

Due to the changing dynamics in the doctor-patient relationship, there is a large emphasis on patient choice currently. As patients become increasingly knowledgable, apart from just being well-informed about the nuances of the latest medical treatments and therapies, there is also a growing interest in complementary medication. Complementary medication is taken alongside conventional medication which is traditionally prescribed by doctors and physicians. Examples of complementary medication include allopathy, homeopathy, traditional chinese medicine and acupuncture. However the growing popularity of complementary medicine has generated considerable discussions with regards to whether they should be recommended for patients.

Although doctors may not be fully convinced about the therapeutic benefits of complementary medicines, discouraging patients from taking them may not be entirely compliant with patient autonomy. When adhering to patient autonomy, doctors are ultimately respecting the decisions which patients take. Although doctors could take the liberty to inform patients about the lack of evidence substantiating complementary medicine, I believe that coercing them to not pursue complementary options may not be entirely appropriate. Furthermore, complementary medicine may also have the capacity to address the spiritual needs of patients which modern medicine may not always be able to satisfy. Medication, therapies and treatments can undoubtedly help to alleviate any physical challenges which patients experience whilst a doctor’s empathy and compassion can provide much needed psychological support. However, addressing a patient’s spiritual needs may not always be straightforward and some complementary medication specifically focus on providing spiritual support for the patient. For instance, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture seek to harness the inner energy which humans are said to possess. Hence, complementary medicine could help to address the multi-dimensional concerns of patients. However, the fundamental principles upon which complementary medicine function are not as well validated and verified as conventional medicine. Modern medical practice functions on the basis of evidence-based medicine whereby research projects and studies have been conducted to justify the proposed benefits of treatments, therapies and drugs. Thus, medication and drugs prescribed by doctors are clinically proven and can be relied upon to relieve the patients of their symptoms. However, the therapies offered by complementary medicine are not as rigourously assessed or evaluated through extensive research. Hence, the benefits of these remedies still remain questionable as there is insufficient scientific evidence to corroborate their claims. Additionally, the regulations concerning complementary medicine are lax as compared to conventional medicine.

Apart from just extensively assessing the advantages of treatments and medication, medical practitioners are also expected to uphold a high level of clinical practice by undetaking various tests which help to ensure that they possess the skills and knowledge to be given the responsibility of providing care for patients. If any substantial deficiencies are discovered in their clinical practice, their license as qualified doctors could be revoked. However in complementary medicine, such strict regulations and checks do not exist. Hence, you could have practitioners who abuse the patient’s trusts in them or major compromises in care could go unnoticed. My personal opinion is that it would be unfair to generalise complementary medicine as being fraudulent.

I believe that patients should take the responsibility to carefully consider the options available to them with regards to complementary medicine. In order to minimise the risks that they are exposed to, they should research into the therapy or medical programme they are interested in greater detail. They should definitely try to be aware of who is the practitioner, what are their qualifications, what are the success rates and how are the experiences of patients who have undergone the same treatment? If they are able to

Access Diagnostics 10% Coupon Code

There is a 10% online coupon code active at Access Diagnostics fertility, ovulation tests  & pregnancy tests website for the next 5 days only.

The coupon code is AD10 and is active until midnight on Sunday 20/1/13

Low cost delivery options available. Free UK Delivery when you spend over £75

Do stem cells hold the key to discovering a cure for Parkinson’s?

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurological movement disorder which leads to uncontrollable tremors and difficulties in movement and coordination for patient’s. It remains an incurable disease as a possible cure has eluded researchers and scientists thus far. Fortunately, this cure may not be as unfathomable as once thought and stem cell research has proven to be a promising area. Theoretically, embryonic stem cells could introduced into the brain of a patient with Parkinson’s and they could differentiate into the dopaminergic neurons which die off in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s. These stem cells will be extracted from embryos of infertile adults, elective abortions and even the umbilical cord. However, there have been ethical and scientific barriers which have resulted in stem cell research becoming highly controversial.

Many religious groups strongly oppose the idea of therapies and treatments revolving around the use of stem cells as they believe that it would be equivalent to murder. They postulate that an embryo should be regarded as a life form and destroying it for even medical uses would be a contravention of the principle of sanctity of life.

In response to this argument, many people have questioned if such embryos can even be regarded as a life form. Anatomically, young embryos do not possess definite and clear-cut structures which resemble us humans and in the extremely early stages, they are essentially a cluster of cells. Hence, there does seem to be considerable ambiguity in ascertaining if embryos do indeed possess the necessary traits to be considered a life form. Additionally, scientists have also said that the embryos which are used in stem cell research will be eventually destroyed. If that were to be the case, it could seem justifiable to make use of these embryos in stem cell research as at least they could play a substantial role in the treatment of patients and could yield significant improvements in one’s quality of life.

Beyond ethical considerations, there have also been scientific concerns which have stifled the process of translating stem cell research findings into therapies and treatments for patients. Based on the experiments which have been conducted, majority of the studies have discovered that stem cell therapy would tremendously increases one’s risk of suffering from cancer. The stem cells which are injected into the patient’s brain could divide and proliferate exponentially and eventually lead to the formation of tumours which could then become malignant. Only in a small proportion of the studies has it been found that stem cell therapy would be advantageous to the patient. Hence, unless scientists and researchers are able to identify a way through which they are able to regulate the growth of stem cells, it could expose the patient to unnecessary risks which could outweigh the benefits of such a therapy. I believe that through further research into the divisive properties and mechanisms for regulation of stem cells, we will be able to shed more light on this highly promising field of biomedical research

Obesity News UK-Tackling Obesity

The problem of childhood obesity is becoming such an issue that the government has said that if need be they will impose bans on the quantities of sugar, salt and fat in foods. It can include a cap of 30% less sugar in children’s cereals. Baby food up to the age of one year is closely monitored by controlling and having limits for the quantity of sugar, salt and food. The government now believes one of the ways to tackle obesity is to increase the age to which the foods are monitored and controlled.
Other European countries have started introducing legislations to control their levels of obesity as well. In France, food and drink is controlled in schools and all marketing and advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt is banned unless if they are taxed and presented with a health warning.

However, many people are inevitably unhappy with this proposal. People who do manage to control their diets well believe they should be able to enjoy their foods as before. Other ideas could include a logo which manufacturers could put on their foods if they follow the limits set out by the government. This way there is still choice and a healthy option has been offered.

Another proposal from Westminster Council which has been remarked as “absurd and shocking” by many is that those who don’t exercise could face benefit cuts. GP’s can prescribe leisure activities such as swimming and fitness classes, which if they decline could cause them to see their benefits slashed. People prescribed health regimes by their GP would be given ‘smart cards’ which will track their use of the leisure centre. However, you can always be rewarded for following the health regimes, so this can also act as an incentive.

But this can have emotional implications; one view is that any plans for health should be holistic as there may be emotional reasons associated with food.

So, even an issue such as obesity has many views associated with it. But one thing is for sure, which even the government has identified – that it needs to be tackled.

Obesity killing more people than hunger

Obesity killing more people than hunger:

It has recently emerged in The Lancet that we have reached the point in time that we have more people dying from obesity than hunger. Does that mean fewer people are dying from hunger? No. It means more people are eating more. The imbalance in the distribution of resources, namely food in this case, is growing. And the countries with most developed health care systems are suffering the most. Such as us, the UK.

A  BBC report published shocking figures showing that 1 in 3 children in the last year of primary school (year six) is overweight or obese. And this number is an increase from last year, showing the problem is getting worse. Another interesting point is that this number was nearly double in poorer areas compared to richer areas. Why is this so? Because fattier food is cheaper than healthy foods. You can buy fried “chicken & chips” from £1.99 whereas salads often start at this price. Therefore, not only these kids but many times their parents may opt for this option for their kids meals.

Therefore, it is of course the governments responsibility to make healthier foods more affordable. The government has recently announced their plans to increase the minimum price for alcohol, similarly they need to lower prices for healthy foods & implement cheaper and accessible sport activities such as weekend programmes. These children, are tomorrows adults. Obesity leads to a huge number of future complication. Diabetes and heart disease to name a few. To save the immense amount of money that will be spent then by the NHS it is better to tackle the problem now.

Weight loss tips-How to prevent the Christmas weight gain

I love the festive season and really enjoy the process & the food. If you are like me you will have a tendency to put on weight at this time of year. Long cold dark nights coupled with lots of tempting foods in the shops always make this a tricky time for the waistline. The cold weather & shorter days also makes it more difficult to keep active at this time of year. 

So what should we do-do we give in to it and then go on a diet in the new year as lots of us do. Slimming classes are always particularly busy in January-a combination of new years resolutions and overindulgence.

Here are some tried & tested tips if you do not want to have to lose weight in the new year:

  • Ask friends & family not to buy you biscuits or sweets as christmas gifts. Advise them that you are watching your weight or that you need to reduce your sugar intake for health reasons- this second reason ie health seems to carry more weight (excuse the pun) in my experience.
  • If you are going to a party offer to be the driver so that you won’t drink and then overeat. Alcohol munchies is real.
  • If you are going to a buffet have a a healthy snack before you go so that you are not ravenous & tempted to eat everything in sight-party food tends to be very calorific and moreish so you will usually be more restrained if you have already eaten something.
  • Resist seconds. This one is surprisingley effective.
  • Don’t go shopping for food when you are hungry-you will be tempted to buy a lot more junk food
  • Go food shopping on your own so that you are in control of what goes in the trolley
  • Keep out of the crisps, sweets, biscuits & cake isles of the supermarket
  • Do not buy a family size tin of chocolates unless you have enormous self control or you will eat far too many. If you fancy them buy a small box for around 99p and enjoy. The big tins look great value but you will pay with your waistline. 
  • if you have been losing weight by attending a slimming or weight loss class keep going to the class-its very easy to think ‘oh I will go back in the new year’ but by then you may have gained 7 to 12 lbs
  • Get active-there are lots of ways you can get active in winter-try something new-maybe swimming, badmington, a fitness class or Pilates or just wrap up warm and go for a walk. The hardest bit is often getting started. Once you do you may well enjoy it and surprise yourself. Do it now-don’t wait until new year.

These are my tips that I will be following for a healthy start to 2013.

If you have any tips please leave them in comments.

The morning after breathalyzer

It was reported today on the radio that an increased number of UK motorists are being stopped by the police between the hours of 6 am and 11 am and found to be over the drink driving limit. This is attributed to the start of the Christmas party season.

Most if not all motorists know that they should not drink and drive but many are unaware that they may still be over the limit the following morning after they have been drinking the night before. This is most likely to occur when they have been drinking late into the night socially often at an office party and then have to get up early the following morning to go to work.

What can you do to reduce the risk of this happening:

  • Stay off the alcohol if you have to get up for work or drive early the next morning is the obvious one.
  • drink plenty of water during the evening. Maybe alternate soft drinks with your alcoholic drinks.
  • Stop drinking as early as possible during the evening if you are going to need to drive the following morning.
  • Do not drink alcohol after midnight-move to the soft drinks
  • Have a glass of water when you get home
  • Use a digital breathalyzer or disposable breathalyzer kit the next morning to get an indication of whether alcohol is still in your system
  • Do not drive if you think you may still be under the influence of alcohol. It is not worth risking your life, the lives of others and your driving license. Use public transport or get a taxi.
  • You can buy disposable glove box breathalyzer kits for the UK limit of 0.08% BAC from UK Drug Testing

Breathalysers including digital breathalysers are also available for sale online in the UK from Valuemed

Best gifts for medical students

At this time of year we are often asked by parents to reccomend the best gifts for medical students.

Any of the Littmann stethoscopes would make a fabulous gift for a medical student but parents are often surprised when we advise them not to go for the most expensive stethoscopes from the Littmann range. The best stethoscope for medical students just starting out on their training are the Littmann classic 11 SE stethoscopes. Most UK doctors start their medical school clinical training with a Littmann classic or similar. They come in a wonderful array of colours now so you really can stand out from the crowd and come boxed so are easy for wrapping. We also have the more traditional Littmann Classic colours.

Stethoscope for medical student

Littmann Classic 11 SE best stethoscope for medical student

For a final year medical student a Littmann dual 111 cardiology stethoscope would make a really special gift and would help give them confidence for their final exams.

We also have a comprehensive range of starter kits for medical students that would make great gifts for medical students just starting on their clinical training.

If you are a medical student let us know what you think are the best medical equipment gifts that you would like to receive for Christmas that would make gifts.

Wholesale Ovulation Test Strips available to buy online

Just a quick post to let our trade customers know we will be increasing our range of ovulation tests strips available at Access Diagnostics to buy through our wholesale website later this month

Use discount coupon code aut5 to save 5% at our wholesale website this month.

We also have a range of wholesale pregnancy test strips and cassette formats.

If you do not see the test you require or the volume you require on our wholesale site then please contact us by -phone or e-mail for a quote

Pedometer Tips

Buy pedometer step counter online UK


I wear a pedometer every day and yesterday I went christmas shopping in Cambridge (great place to shop & stunningly beautiful architecture) and was pleased to see at the end of the day that I had clocked up a very pleasing 18,000 steps. On several occaisons I started to flag and even contemplated getting a bus instead of walking but my pedometer kept me motivated to keep walking. There are lots of coffee shops & benches where you can take a rest and admire the lovely views or simply soak up the great atmosphere. Anyway I digress.

I have worn a pedometer for about 10 years on on & off now I think and thought I would share with you some tips for those that are new to it or thinking about wearing one.

Pedometer Tips

  • Best place to wear your pedometer-I have found that I get the most reliable results if I wear it directly over my hip on my right-hand side-I prefer right because this feels more natural to me and I find it easy to check it throughout the day to see how I am getting on. I am right handed so this may well have a bearing on why I prefer this side.
  • The best type of pedometer. I find the sort that clip on to your waistband or belt are the best as they tend to stay horizontal which is necessary for accurate recording of steps. In fact, I have found that it is best to clip it to a leather belt as this keeps it in place. Without the belt, it tends to fall off and get lost, fall in the toilet or fail to record accurately.
  • What to do if it falls in the toilet (this happened quite frequently to me before I started to wear it with a belt) Dont panic they usually recover. Whip it out of the loo and dab it dry with a towel. Then put it somewhere warm and dry. Airing cupboard if you have one is ideal or next to a radiator.  Avoid putting it somewhere too hot as too much heat could damage it. You have to be patient now as it may take a day or two to come back to life. If you are lucky it may be quicker-it depends on how much water has gone inside. In my experience, they nearly always recover. This method also works very well if you drop your iPod or mobile phone down the toilet or in a sink of water (I have done both)
  • How many steps should you aim for? Health guidelines have suggested that aiming for 10,000 steps per day is associated with significant health benefits.
  • How to start using your pedometer, To begin with just find out where you are at. Wear the pedometer for a couple of days and monitor your daily number of steps so it will give you an idea of how active or inactive you are. When I started I was doing between 2000 and 3000 a day. Now I exceed 10,000 steps every day. Then you can begin to increase your activity level. My advice as with any increased exercise program would be to do this gradually, aiming for an increase of 1000-2000 steps daily and then sustaining this for at least a week. This way you can work up to 10,000 steps per day over several weeks or months. if you do it gradually you are often more likely to keep it up-it will simply become part of your daily routine. Studies on human behaviour have shown that it takes about 21 days of doing something for it to become an ingrained habit. If you find that the increased activity is easy then you can increase more quickly but be wary of increasing too quickly and making it too hard for yourself to sustain it.
  • Put the pedometer on 1st thing in the morning when you get out of bed and take it off the last thing at night to get an accurate picture of how many steps per day you are doing. Make sure to reset it each morning.
  • If you have any health issues that affect you walking eg knee problems, hip problems, heart problems then talk to your doctor about what you are planning to do and get their input. Most medical conditions benefit from increasing your activity levels but you may need to take things much more slowly so that you do not exacerbate any underlying medical conditions. Talk to your doctor if you have an underlying medical condition. They will be able to advise you on the best way you can safely get more active and how many steps you should aim to increase by and the rate at which you should do it.

Anyway enough, for now, I have been sat down far too long. Hope you have found these tips helpful. Enjoy your pedometer

You can buy this pedometer online in UK from Valuemed

Sitting for prolonged periods is bad for your health

I recently read an article that discussed new research showing that sitting on a daily basis for prolonged periods was associated with increased morbidity. As many of us, me included, these days earn our living working at computers this involves long periods of prolonged sitting. We also increasingly spend our leisure time sitting either surfing the net, watching television or playing on computer games.

It set me thinking of ways that we can help to reduce the negative impact of all this sitting.

Here are some suggestions:

  • set a timer when you are working at your computer or surfing the net. Time passes very quickly when you are working at a computer-it is easy to get into a state of flow and completely lose track of time. When the timer goes off take a break and move ! How long you set the timer is up to you. I suggest trying 45 minutes to begin with but if you are like me the temptation is to keep resetting it. Resist this and move.
  • Take regular breaks to use the toilet, make a drink. If you work from home take a break and do some housework or go outside and pull some weeds in the garden. The break will often refresh you and you will be more productive afterwards.
  • Take a walk in your lunch break-a walk in the middle of the day is very refreshing. You could run errands or just get out in the fresh air. If you do it every day it will quickly become a a habit and you will look forward to it.
  • wear a pedometer (step counter) so you can see how active or inactive you are. It is very motivating when you are trying to become more active. I was shocked when I first started to wear one at how inactive I was compared to my perception of how active I was. You should aim for about 10,000 stpes per day but you can start by just increasing you activity level-any increase is an improvement. I have worn a pedometer now for about 8 years and find it very motivating.
  • walk your dog each day if you have one-studies have suggested that dog walkers are healthier and happier. If you don’t own a dog maybe you could borrow one or walk with a firend who has a dog. Maybe you should even consider getting a dog-dogs generally love to walk and are always enthusiastic whatever the weather-mind you it is a big commitment so maybe just try borrowing one to begin with.
  • take up as sport that you do in the evening. At this time of year with the dark evenings it is all too easy to collapse on the sofa in front of the TV after your evening meal and not move again until it is time for bed-apart from those trips to the fridge to snack !
  • if you are watching TV do something active when those annoying ad breaks come on. Here are some of my favourites: tidy up your kitchen, put laundrey away, put a load of laundrey on, dust, tidy up-anything to get you active. Look upon the adverts as an opportunity to get your steps up.

Anyway these are just a few ideas to increase your activity level.

You can get a great little pedometer step counter here that will help you to increase your health and fitness if you use it

Spreading the word about infertility to the medical profession

Infertility Network, a leading UK infertility charity, wants to spread the word to doctors about infertility. They have found from patient feedback that many GP surgeries do not have leaflets & information that they can pass onto their patients about infertility and they would like to change this.

They are looking for volunteers to distribute some Infertility Network UK leaflets & posters to GP surgeries in their local area.

Find out how you can help here

If you are a GP surgery that would like access to these information leaflets then contact Infertility Network for more information or click on the link above

Valuemed Coupon Code

Here is our latest 5% online discount coupon code

  • Coupon code is aut5
  • Use at
  • Can be used this month and next at any of our websites.
  • Free standard UK delivery when you spend over £75 on goods net VAT in single transaction
  • Free UK mainland courier delivery when you spend over £250 on goods net VAT in single transaction

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s

Hi, once again. I had written about the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s in an earlier post and will be exploring a possible surgical intervention in this one. Unfortunately, Parkinson’s is an incurable illness and scientists and doctors have yet to find a conclusive cure for it. As such, most treatments focus on mitigating the deleterious effects of Parkinson’s and one such treatment is Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). DBS is a surgical procedure which aims to treat the tremors, rigidity and walking difficulties associated with Parkinson’s Disease. Instead of the prime treatment, it is used as a last resort when treatment by various medications has proven to be futile. Essentially, DBS uses a surgically implanted medical device known as a neurostimulator- similar to the heart pacemaker- to deliver stimulation, via electrical impulses, to regions in the brain which control cognitive movement. These electrical stimuli also aid in the blockage of the aberrant nerve signals that cause tremor and various other symptoms related to Parkinson’s Disease. The entire DBS system is composed of three elements: the lead, neurostimulator and extension. Once the system has been fully installed, the neurostimulator transmits electrical impulses along the extension and lead and into the regions of the brain which are affected.

Lack of physical activity education in UK’s medical schools

      According to research found in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, there is a distinct lack of medical students being taught about the benefits of physical exercise to patients. A study undertaken by the Lancet found that a third of adults are not doing enough exercise, which is resulting in an estimated 5.3 million deaths per year.

In response to this, medical school curriculum leaders were asked if the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO’s) guidance on physical activity for all age groups was part of the curriculum. Questions were also asked about the number of teaching hours dedicated to the promotion of physical activity, as well as regarding the theory taught behind it. Only four out of the UK’s 31 medical schools were found to have physical activity taught as part of the curriculum in each year of the course. Research also found that five of the schools did not have any teaching allocated to physical activity, with only half adhering to the CMO’s recommendations.

It has now been raised as a matter of urgency that medical schools improve the quantity and quality of physical activity education. This is becoming of paramount importance, as a lack of exercise is now being regarded as a global pandemic, with the number of deaths attributed to physical activity roughly equivalent to those caused by smoking. The higher incidence of serious diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and colon cancer is, for the most part, the cause of inactivity. Reports from the Lancet suggest that if physical activity was to be reduced by 10%, approximately 533,000 deaths could be avoided each year.

In order for this to occur, we need our doctors to be able to successfully promote within the community, the importance of exercise and how it can improve our health and well-being. Only then will we have a higher chance of averting the serious diseases that plague our society today.

Hi everyone !

As a prospective medical student looking at 2014 entry, I recently decided to write for the Valuemed blog to widen my medical knowledge (to help me earn a place at medical school) and this will be my first ever post!

I’m currently studying for my AS levels (Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Maths and Geography) at sixth form and have wanted to study medicine for as long as I can remember – I’m often asked why I want to, and the truth is that there is no easy answer… Of course, the structure of the medical course includes a lot of science (which I enjoy) and you will probably spend the rest of your working life learning about new treatments and technologies – I love the idea of having so much variety in a job! It’s a challenging career and I have never been one to turn away from a difficult or stressful situation. I like meeting new people and last but not least, being able to make an active difference in someone’s life appeals to me. Chances are that I won’t discover a new miracle drug or create a life saving vaccination for HIV, but being able to make a positive difference in someone’s life on a daily basis is really what draws me to the career. People often ask me if I want to go into medicine for the money, and honestly, no – I don’t. Without a doubt, it’s a difficult career option – it’s a competitve degree to get into, I’ll be in full-time education for at least 5 years after school – not to mention having debt up to my eyeballs!, the stress, the emotional strain and the frustration when you are unable to help someone… And so, to cut a long story short, if I were in it for the money, I would find something else. But for me, the pros of studying medicine cannot be compared to anything else!

I’ve been involved with St John Ambulance for over 5 years now, and am currently a volunteer at a hospital. Following some work experience, I’ve become quite interested in radiology and ophthalmology as well as surgery (although I have no experience of this yet…). Over the next two years (which will probably fly by!), I hope to expand my knowledge as well as hopefully blog about what I do know.

Goodbye for now,


Parkinson’s Disease Pathophysiology

Parkinson’s Disease is part of a group of conditions which are broadly categorised as movement disorders. Hence, Parkinson’s disease is mainly due to the loss of the brain’s controls over voluntary movements.The death of nerve cells in the substantia nigra region of the brain is the main reason for the onset of Parkinson. These nerve cells are responsible for the secretion of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which relays signals from the substantia nigra to the basal ganglia regions in the striatum. This in turn allows us to control our balance, movement and coordination. Actually, it is normal for there to be a decline in the number of dopamine-secreting nerve cells in individuals. In the specific case of individuals with Parkinson’s, the decline is much more rapid. Among Parkinson’s sufferers, majority have contracted idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease. Unfortunately, this means that the we are still not able to accurately and decisively pinpoint the underlying cause of Parkinson’s disease. However, it is heartening to note that significant amount of research is being dedicated to investigate the identify the underlying causes of this debilitating illness.


Long before the advances in medicine, people who were subject to having fits and seizures were not thought to have a medical condition, rather they were thought to have been possessed by some sort of third-party demon. However, since the remarkable breakthroughs in the dynamic and ever-changing medical field, doctors and research professionals have clarified that it’s due to a medical condition affecting the brain: epilepsy.

Although it is a neurological condition affecting the brain, it also has a physical effect, as the body is affected when a seizure occurs. Anyone can develop epilepsy: all ages, all races, and people of all social classes. However it is more distinguishably recognised in youngsters under the age of 20 years and in the elderly over the age of 65 years. The condition is usually only diagnosed after the person has experienced more than one seizure. These seizures take place when there is a sudden and irregular interruption in the way that the brain would normally work.

Epilepsy is a condition that varies from person to person, and affects them in different ways. There are over 40 different types of epilepsy so just knowing that somebody is epileptic, indicates very little about their epilepsy and the type of seizures they experience. For instance, some sufferers go blank for a few seconds or minutes, while others may walk around in confusion, whereas others tend to fall into convulsion where they fall to the ground and begin shaking involuntarily. The latter, is the more commonly recognised form of epilepsy, however the other types must not go ignored.

The potential causes of epilepsy are many and will vary between different people. Sometimes the reason behind the development of epilepsy can be found out, for example if somebody has suffered a traumatic head accident or undergone a stroke; however, there are other times when a person’s epilepsy and the seizures may start off randomly with no physical causes, and hence the actual cause of it becomes more difficult to uncover. The main causes of epilepsy can be divided into three groups. The first is when there is a known cause for the condition, such as trauma to the head, infections such as meningitis or a stroke as described above. In these cases, usually an MRI scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) can be used to detect the cause as it will most likely show up. The second group is when the epilepsy is likely to be due to genetics and the way the genes are made up, inherited from either one or even both the parents. The third and more ambiguous group is when the cause for a person’s epilepsy has not yet been found, despite there being various investigations already taken place.

Epilepsy is usually treated by the use of anti-epileptic drugs, otherwise known as AEDs. The sole aim of the anti-epileptic drugs are to stop seizures from occurring, but they do not cure the condition. In the majority of cases, anti-epileptic drugs are very effective and the seizures experienced can be controlled by taking these drugs. However, in very few cases the AEDs seem to have very little, if any, effect on the number of seizures that occur. In such circumstances, surgery may be an option. The surgery involves removing the part of the brain which is responsible for causing the seizures.

Metabolic Rate explained

  Couch potatoes are ‘as fit as hunter-gatherers,’ according to several media outlets, based on research undertaken by anthropologists from Hunter College, New York, and several other academic institutions in the US.

The study compared the number of calories members of an African tribe burned in a day to the average ‘burn rate’ of those from developed countries.  They then calculated the total energy expenditure and found it was about the same.

The study concentrated in particular on the metabolic rate of the African tribe and how it compared with westerners.

Metabolic rate is the total body energy expenditure per unit time. The normal metric unit of energy is the joule, but for metabolism the unit calorie is used. One calorie is the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water from 14.5C to 15.5C.

Therefore, basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the metabolic rate when a person is at mental and physical rest but not sleeping, at a comfortable temperature and has fasted at least 12hrs.

There are many factors that can affect metabolic rate including:

•             Sleep, as metabolic rate decreases during sleep.

•             It decreases with age. After 20 years, it reduces about 2% every decade; this is because there’s a strong link between exercise volume and your metabolic rate. In other words, the more exercise you do, the higher your metabolic rate.

Second, metabolic rate is also linked to total calorie intake. This means that the more you eat, the higher your metabolic rate. And as people get older they tend to eat less, hence they usually have a lower metabolic rate.

•             Gender. (Women have less than men at any size) Women naturally have a lower BMR, due to breast and gluteal tissue which is higher in fat than in men, due to natural processes such as child birth.

•             Fasting. This is because when fasting humans must   maintain blood glucose above 2mM otherwise the brain will stop working- unconsciousness. This is done for example as fatty acids are released from adipose tissue. The fatty acids are used as fuels by most tissues in preference to glucose.


However the presence of or an increase in any of these factors can cause an increase in metabolic rate:

•             Height, weight and body surface area contribute a lot to BMR, as the greater the surface area the greater you’re BMR, tall and thin people tend to have high BMR.

•             Pregnancy, menstruation, lactation

•             Growth

·                Infection or other diseases

·                Exercise

·                Hormones (such as leptin and thyroid hormone.)

·                Muscular Activity

The thyroid hormones are the most important determinant of metabolic rate, for people of all ages, size and sex. Thyroid hormones increases oxygen consumption and heat production of most body tissues excluding the brain. This is called the calorigenic effect, the ability to increase metabolic rate. If there too many thyroid hormones for a long time, for example with those with hyperthyroidism, a lot of effects other than the calorigenic effect will take place. For example, the increased metabolism will cause an increase in hunger and food intake.  Whereas a lack of thyroid hormones can result in mental and physical lethargy and delayed reflexes.

However, the factor that increases metabolic rate most is altered skeletal muscle activity. Small increases in muscle contraction can affect metabolic rate and strenuous exercise dramatically, and can potentially cause an increase in energy expenditure by fifteen times.  This is why during sleep the metabolic rate is extremely low because there is less skeletal activity.

Ultrasound Scan Objective

I would like to start by saying that I am sorry for having disappeared for the past couple of months due to exams and UCAS, but hopefully I can write more often now .

On my recent work experience at BRI I was fortunate to be able to shadow a sonographer and so thought I’d share my experience.

Ultrasound is a form of energy using high frequency soundwaves to produce an image. During my time in ultrasound many abdominal cases and a madible case was seen. These involved gall stones, mass, focal lesions and lymph node in the mandible.

A gel medium was required in order to improve transmission of soundwaves. The speed of this sound varies depending on the medium density and compressibilty. Without the gel the soundwaves would have to travel through different densities; through air and then through soft tissue.

Even though ultrasound does not give off radiation, it still may not be as safe. The bioeffects of ultrasound are heating and cavitation. The beam is attenuated as it passes through tissue therefore energy is lost. This energy is absorbed and converted into heat. This can cause over heating of any microbubbles which may be present within organs. Changes in pressure of the beam may cause the microbubbles to oscillate in size and cause tissue damage. However, ultrasound has not yet been proven to be unsafe.

Ultrasound soundwaves cannot pass through bone so only the outer surfaces of bones will be shown, and what is within the bony structures will not be shown. Another limitation is large body habitus and if there is more gas than bone present. Because of these limitations other modalities such as CT, general X-RAY and MRI have to be used.

idoctor says hello!

Well where do I begin…. this is my first post on the blog so I just want to say a little hello an introduce myself to those who read this blog and other writers. A lot like many of you I am an aspiring medic. I applied last year with one interview which was unsuccessful so without a doubt will be trying again for 2013. Received my a level grades 2 weeks ago, big smilees 🙂 🙂 🙂 which also showed me how much I want to study medicine. Being quite an academic person I have always been told that I can do whatever i want and that ‘the world is my oyster’. easier said than done 😉 well ill keep it short and simple… hoping to try new things during my gap year, and blogging being one of them, i thought this would be a great way to write about things that interest me whilst trying something new. I’ll try to post every week and talk about different topics in the medicine world that I find most interesting and most important and i’ll also keep you upto date on my application to medicine ..take two 😉


I sat the UKCAT last year and received a score of 680. (Average being 600). So it wasn’t a bad score but I’m now faced with sitting it again. Advice for the UKCAT:
Verbal Reasoning – Some say you should read the passage first and get an idea of it and where different parts are within the text. Others say to read the question first then skim read through the text. Personally, I read the question first because the texts sometimes are very long. I think the point of this section is to see your ability to cut out the unnecessary and get to the point.

Quantitative – Personally my worst section. Many say the actual test is easier than the practice questions. Personally, last year I found that the difficulty level was the same in the practices and the actual test. Therefore, my advice would be to make sure you can do all the practice questions and know the basics which will definitely come up. Such as % changes. And practice on your computer calculator only.

Abstract – I think the more you practice the section the easier it becomes. Many times the same patterns come up again and again. Last year I had questions which were the same as the ones in the practice book. And don’t forget the simple patterns like counting the number of sides! This actually comes up more than you think.

Decision Analysis – Personally, I think this is quite fun. One thing I’ve learnt is that every single word from the coded line will be in the answer. EVERY SINGLE WORD. They may have extra words in the answer, but the correct answer will contain all the words in the coded line. Watch out for hints like ‘personal’ meaning ‘I’ or ‘Me’ will be in the answer.

Most of all, it is true, practice makes perfect. Keep practising. You’ll find you reach a stage when you can’t practice any more. You’ve done all the questions you possibly can. That’s when you know you’re ready. And, every time you practice. Try and stick to the time limit. It’s a good idea to get used to the timing.

Wishing you all the best.

– Rabia

A male contraceptive pill?

Recently the BBC had an exciting news article that we may soon have an effective male contraceptive pill. Scientists in USA have been testing a drug ‘JQ1’ on mice. These tests have shown that whilst consuming the drug, the mice were rendered temporarily infertile, due to low sperm count and low motility levels. But of course, there are a lot of tests still to be done including on humans before you see this pill behind the Pharmacy counter.

But even before this prospective pill could be found and tested, scientists had to go deeper into the genome to find the ‘contraceptive gene.’ Known as ‘Katnal1’ this gene responsible for sperm production was found in mice. It is then this drug ‘JQ1’ which will interrupt Katnal1 to make a reversible contraceptive. This drug stops protein production meaning the male gametes do not fully form and the body disposes of them. Meaning, no fertilisation. (Or reduced chance, as one should say.)
It is reversible in the sense that it does not stop the early stages of sperm production and the organisms ability to produce them. It just stops them from fully forming in the later stages, whilst taking the drug.

But, another study has found that ultrasound to the testicles can stop sperm production. First proposed in the 1970’s it is only now being pursued. It has been found that two 15 minute doses, two days apart and through warm salt water “significantly reduced” the number of sperm. After being tested on rats, their sperm count dropped to ‘below 10 million per millilitre’.

But how good is this? Yes there will be fewer unplanned pregnancy but will this increase the rates of under-age sex? And will this lead to reduced use of the condom? Which the global world has taken years to raise awareness of. But then also, will there be any need for condoms?

– Rabia

Getting into Med School

So, I’m a bit confused about the system and its effectiveness. I know many people who received amazing A-Level results, you may be one, but have not got a place at Med School. We have experience, grades, volunteering all under our belt yet every year it seems average student nick the exceptional students places.
This was recently in the news as well, how this system is not effective. Other countries operate in that students apply after receiving their grades, as university begins later. Surely this is a better system.
But none the less, every opportunity should be seized. If like me you’ve found yourself on a gap year, lets make the most of it and gain as much as we can from it.
– Rabia