It is one of the old cliches in modern medicine that we ought to be eternally grateful for modern medicine. Now, I am not taking away from the sentiment: Medical science is one of the most beautiful things on this planet, and it has saved the world from so much pain and unnecessary death. It is more the phrase that tickles me. After all, ‘modern medicine’ is a relative term. In the medieval period, it involved leeches. ‘Modern medicine’ in the Victorian era was done without anesthetic. It stands to reason that ‘modern medicine’ in a thousand years could be a pill that cures all known and unknown maladies. Undoubtedly, someone will shake their head in amazement. “Modern medicine, hey? You know in the year 2000, they used to physically cut people open to perform surgery? Can you imagine?”
Modern medicine in the year 2022 is exceptional, and the rate of growth from even twenty years ago is astonishing. So much so, that many of the treatments which used to necessitate a trip to the doctor’s surgery can now be performed in the comfort of your own home.
First of all, there are blood pressure monitors. These are commonplace in every doctors’ practice, but have more recently become available for the average person to keep at home. And for good reason: If you have hypertension, keeping one of these puppies handy is the best way to monitor your health. If you consistently have high blood pressure, your heart has to work much much harder to pump blood through to your body. Over time, your left ventricle (the lower left part of your heart) will start to thicken, and when that happens you’re a ticking time bomb for a heart attack. Now, if you are aware of it, you can manage that risk.
- Eating healthily
- Getting active
- Cutting the cigarettes
- Getting good sleep
But if you aren’t aware that your heart is working this hard, you are unlikely to manage the risk. A blood pressure monitor keeps your finger on the pulse, quite literally. There is also great evidence to suggest that getting a reading at home is more effective for two reasons:
- White coat hypertension: This is when we begin to panic in the doctor’s surgery. Just relax they say. Panic you think. Make sure your heart is relaxed or you will give an incorrect reading! Oh for the love of God RELAX! It can be stressful. In the comfort of your own home, you are more likely to return an accurate reading
- Masked hypertension: This is the opposite. We are quite relaxed at the doctors because we are removed from our stresses. Kids, emails, partners… By taking the reading at home, we give your doctors a better reading as to what our everyday lives truly look like.
For me, it is a no-brainer. Pick up a blood pressure monitor and stay ahead of the game.
Next up, automated external defibrillators. In 1990, Kerry Packer (younger readers might need to Wikipedia this guy, older readers will remember when he owned 90% of media outlets in Australia) was resuscitated by a defib in an ambulance. He personally funded a new defib for every single ambulance in Australia. However, it is only in the last five years that AEDs have become a mainstay in the private home or business. Around 20,000 Australians will have an unexpected heart attack this year. Without defibrillation, the chances of survival are miniscule. With a combination of CPR and the use of an AED, that figure jumps to a massive 70%.
These machines talk you through the steps so that even if you are not first aid trained, it is difficult to get it wrong.
I came across an older gentleman last year in the midst of cardiac arrest. If not for an AED stashed under the counter of a nearby cafe, he would have almost certainly passed away. Again, it’s a no brainer.
In a similar vein (pardon the pun), smart watches are increasingly being used as a medical alert device. The newest Apple Watch (not a paid advert, but if the good people at Apple feel like sending me a new iMac, so be it!) has a feature which detects where you have had a sudden fall. If you don’t move after a minute, it will call emergency services on your behalf with a location setting. The advantages here are obvious. No longer is it possible to have a heart attack and not be found for hours, at which point it is far too late. The possibilities here are exciting. Perhaps eventually these smart watches will detect heart rhythms and pre-empt a heart attack. Perhaps they might even become AEDs in the not so distant future. Watch this space…
In years gone by, you needed to go to the doctors or the pharmacy to receive medicine and other treatment options. Now, online shopping is well and truly upon us, and Aussie Pharmacy is at the forefront of this revolution. But what happens next? Perhaps, it is the delivery of medicine by a drone. You might recognise that you are out of ibuprofen, put an order in and within a few minutes, a drone has appeared at your front door. It finally closes the gap between point of sale and receiving of goods. The future is indeed bright for those of us who want to use technology to improve their health and wellbeing.
So there are just a few medical advancements. Some of them have recently made their way into our homes. Some of them are starting to be available just now. Others are on the horizon. All I know is that I look forward to the level of medical care that is available in our homes by the time I am old. And I often lose myself in speculating what it might look like when my children are old.
Modern medicine, hey?
Yours in health,