Posts by Lin Lee

The Global Burden of Disease: non-communicable diseases increase premature death

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Up-to-date knowledge of cause-specific mortality is essential for the formulation of health policies. Obtaining this evidence is a massive undertaking, and probably the largest attempt to do so is the landmark Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010). This was the largest ever systematic effort to describe the global distribution and causes of major diseases, injuries, and health risk factors.

In the first in a series of papers has been published in the Lancet today, GBD 2010 has been updated to GBD 2013 three years later. The authors aimed to ascertain changes in the global, regional and national burden of mortality for 240 causes of death across 188 countries between 1990-2013. Using similar methods to those …

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What’s killing us? The biggest causes of premature death

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The general aim of medicine is to reduce the burden of ill-health and mortality, such that individuals are able to enjoy longer, healthier lives. Indeed, advances in medicine have meant that life expectancy in most countries has increased by around 10 years in the past 40 years, albeit with large variation between the richest and poorest countries.

As a result of significant medical advances, the global population has continued to grow and age, but this has led to a broad shift in the type of diseases that cause the most burden; from communicable (i.e. infectious), maternal, neonatal and nutritional causes of death to non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

So what does this mean in terms of disease burden? On which diseases …

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Global health research: managing the burden of mental illnesses, diabetes and HIV

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The past two decades have shown an increase in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), affecting high-income as well as low- and middle-income countries. In fact, 63% of all deaths worldwide were due at least in part to NCDs, and around three quarters of the world’s chronic disease-related deaths that year occurred in low- and middle-income countries. These countries have to contend with a dual burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases, which pose not only a health burden, but also an economic burden. Three studies published in BMC Medicine this week explore some of these important issues.

 

Mental health disorders in Ethiopian homeless

Despite being a leading cause of disability and ill health globally, mental health

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Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis and the future of nephrology

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Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis

A new article about Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS) – a progressive kidney disease – was published in BMC Medicine today. We spoke to Jochen Reiser, an expert in the field, and Chairman of Medicine at Rush University, Chicago, to find out more about FSGS and what these latest results add to our understanding.

What exactly is Primary Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)?

FSGS in simple terms is a progressive kidney scarring disease. The reasons for its development can be several, and stem from inside or outside the kidney. FSGS can recur after kidney transplantation in 30% or more of cases. Given the rapid induction of recurrent FSGS disease, scientists and clinicians suspected the existence of a so called ‘circulating factor’ that …

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Type 2 diabetes and cancer: further evidence for treating one to prevent the other

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Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition whose prevalence has increased drastically in the past few decades, an increase which is largely attributed to an increase in levels of obesity.

It’s thought that 4 million deaths a year are related to this disease, the majority of which are due to cardiovascular complications. Recently though, cancer has also emerged as an important comorbidity to diabetes, and so appropriate diabetes control now has a key role to play in reducing the cancer burden.

It looks like at least part of the reason for this link between diabetes and cancer is hyperglycemia (high blood sugar level). There are several pathways by which it can cause an increased risk of cancer. One of the causes …

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Unravelling the associations between childhood malaria and invasive bacteria infection

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Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites of the Plasmodium genus that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. It is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality worldwide, accounting  for 7% of deaths in children younger than five years old.

Young children living in stable transmission areas are particularly at risk of malaria, since they have not yet developed protective immunity against the most severe forms of the disease. As clinical outcomes in this group can be poor, there is much interest in understanding what other factors contribute to a poor outcome in order to identify future targets for additional treatments.

Previous data had shown tentative indications that children infected with Plasmodium falciparum malaria …

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Demographics over the past 10 years- where are our authors based?

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During this past week, the editors at BMC Medicine have been discussing how the journal has been changing over the last 10 years in terms of the impact of our articles, measured by various means. Of course, one of the best ways in which an article can impact on the scientific community is to drive other research within the field and to positively influence clinical practice.

As an open access journal, we hope we have enabled authors to freely access articles that can facilitate their own research. As discussed in a previous blog, article and Twitter chat, open access can be considered particularly important in resource-limited settings.

Since the launch of the journal a decade ago, …

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Global health issues: millennium development goals, evidence-based medicine and open access

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Deaths of women and children in low and middle income countries account for over 95% of all maternal and child deaths. This startling figure comes as we approach the deadline to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These eight goals aim to release people from poverty and associated health inequities. Although some goals will be met, it seems that MDGs 4 and 5 which relate to child survival and maternal health respectively, will not.

Childbirth, for instance, has one of the highest mortality rates for both the mother and the new born –  complications during labor and delivery account for half the maternal deaths, one third of stillbirths and a quarter of neonatal deaths occurring each year …

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This week in BMC Medicine: Tuberculosis, HIV and global health

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In China, tuberculosis (TB) is a major public health problem; it has the second largest burden in the world, and TB is the number one cause of deaths due to a single infectious agent. Here,  1.4 million people per year develop the active form of the disease, and just 20 years ago, it was attributable to the deaths of 360, 000 individuals per year. However, it is known that when intervention strategies are in place, they are effective. For instance, China was able to halve the deaths attributed to TB following a large scale program initiated in 1992.

Early diagnosis followed by prompt treatment are the core objectives of an effective national  TB control program. However, delays …

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The importance of evidence-based medicine: BMC Medicine attends Evidence Live 2013

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Evidence-based medicine (EBM) aims to assess the strength of proof behind medical interventions in terms of risks and benefits, and therefore can be used to inform clinical decision making on both an individual and a population basis. As such, EBM is crucial in maintaining quality medical care and ensuring good clinical outcomes. Many parties are involved in EBM. Firstly, researchers and publishers are involved in the conduct and dissemination of medical evidence. Then, policy makers and clinicians are responsible for the eventual implementation of changes in healthcare decisions that may occur.

This week, BMC Medicine attended the Evidence Live 2013 conference in Oxford, held on the 25th and 26th of March. Attracting around 1000 delegates, the conference provided …

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