Top Health Advancements of the Last Decade

Category: Healthy Living

Author

Posted on June 11, 2021

Scott is passionate about health and wellness, and enjoys writing on various topic surrounding these fields. Scott lives in Seattle and spends his free time restoring old furniture and playing pickleball with his friends.



health advancements

Since 1950, there have been significant declines in mortality rates for common diseases. This includes heart conditions at 56% and strokes at 70%.

We've learned more about how these diseases form through research studies. Thus, we know how to fight them more precisely.

More recently, scientists have been pushing for treatments and cures for the deadliest of diseases. And, they've been successful in many ways.

We may not have a cure for every human ailment, but we're getting one step closer every single day.

To learn more about the most recent health advancements, keep reading.

1. Cancer

Everyone knows the c-word: cancer. In fact, you're likely to know someone who has or has had cancer.

There are numerous funds, charities, and foundations that gear their efforts towards cancer. And, over the last decade, scientists and researchers have been working tirelessly to find a cure. 

More specifically, we've seen multiple effective immunotherapies against cancer. Cancer immunotherapy methods have become more popular for treating cancer patients. It involves using the immune system to fight cancer naturally.

Some cancer immunotherapies use antibodies to bind to and inhibit proteins that are located on cancer cells. Other kinds of immunotherapies involve using anti-cancer vaccines and T cell infusions.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors and adoptive immune cell therapies are becoming more common. And, they're becoming more widely accepted. 

In fact, these immune therapies are becoming the fourth leg of cancer treatment. They're joining behind surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

As we continue forward, we should expect more effective and more widely-used anti-cancer vaccines. These help our bodies target cancer cells specifically. Thus, we may have the ability to fight off cancer before it becomes widespread or dangerous.

However, we aren't there quite yet. 

The fight against cancer is far from over. Clinical trials across the country are showing promise. But, it's important to recognize that cancer still kills 9.5 million people every single year.

2. Heart Health

The study of the human heart, cardiology, has improved just within the past few years.

And, one of the most notable developments is the transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR. This is a minimally invasive procedure that aims to replace narrow aortic valves. Narrow aortic valves cannot open properly, leading to a condition called aortic valve stenosis.

Previously, surgeons would perform surgical aortic value replacement via open-heart surgery. However, TAVR is a better choice for individuals who may be too high a risk for potential surgical complications.

The TAVR procedures involve guiding a catheter through the femoral artery to the heart. In other cases, surgeons may access the aortic valve via a small incision in the chest wall.

With either method, they position the catheter inside of the heart. Then, they guide the new aortic valve into the place where the original lies. By guiding the catheter through the middle of the aortic valve, they can expand the new valve into its place.

Patients who have this procedure show much promise following surgery. And, they may notice an improvement in their symptoms immediately following the surgery.

Since surgeons have been using TAVR, the procedure has become much simpler and much safer. Plus, new devices and approaches have made the procedure even better over time.

Now, surgeons can use the procedure with a wide variety of patients. And, they continue to improve upon this procedure.

3. HIV/AIDS

HIV and AIDS have a long history. We knew that these conditions existed before 1980. But, researchers did very little during the beginning stages of this epidemic.

Mainly, this is because physicians and researchers were scared. Originally, we didn't know how HIV and AIDS traveled. We didn't know if breathing in the air surrounding a person with one of these diagnoses could cause the problem. 

On top of that, homophobia exacerbated the issue. We once believed that these conditions were only present in gay and bisexual men. So, most physicians and researchers were hesitant to bother researching the condition.

To be clear, men who have sex with other men are 26 times more likely to contract HIV than the average person. However, these are not the only individuals who contract the disease.

Regardless, as the stigma has slowly broken down, more and more research has gone into HIV and AIDS.

Most recently, researchers have formulated a once-a-day pill that can prevent HIV in at-risk populations. This pill is an HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

Some brands are already out to the public. And, it seems like there are more to come. Plus, some researchers are working on developing a long-term PrEP treatment that can replace having to take a pill every day.

Along with this pill, researchers have established antiretroviral therapy (ART). This is in addition to other long-term treatments.

4. Sleep

We all know that getting good sleep is important. If we don't sleep long enough or well enough, we may experience short-term symptoms. These include headaches, irritability, and maybe even stress.

But, what about the long-term implications? Have you thought about how a lack of sleep will affect you down the road?

Well, new studies show that not getting enough sleep can lead to the development of Alzheimer's disease.

More specifically, the lack of deep sleep is what may be the exact link. If we don't get enough sleep, our brains begin to accumulate tau. Unfortunately, tau is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, meaning that the accumulation of tau could be what's leading to it.

Tau is a protein that stabilizes the internal skeletons of our nerve cells. These structures are tube-shaped. And, they help nutrients and other essential substances travel to different parts of the neuron.

Thus, they are very important for brain activity and function.

A high level of tau in the brain mixed with physical and mental consequences from chronic stress could lead to even more dire problems.

5. Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. This means that the condition is marked by the immune system attacking these parts of your body. This leads to damage that can be disabling and even deathly.

Researchers have been working on this condition because of its harsh fatality rates. Over the last decade, we've seen several new and effective disease-modifying therapies for the condition.

For now, there is only one disease-modifying therapy that is FDA approved for primary-progressive MS. This is ocrelizumab (Ocrevus). Individuals who receive this treatment are slightly less likely to progress than those who go without the treatment.

On the other hand, there are many FDA-approved therapies for relapsing-remitting MS.

The key with these therapies is to catch things quickly. Scientists are working on finding a way to track the disease more precisely. They believe that they can do this with biomarkers throughout the body.

If they can track the disease better, they can better the prognosis. Plus, they can improve disease-modifying treatments.

A large amount of the immune response that occurs with MS happens in the early stages of the disease. So, it's important to aggressively treat the condition as early as possible. By doing so, MS patients will notice many improvements:

  • A lower rate of relapse
  • A slower formation of new lesions
  • A reduced risk of brain atrophy
  • A lessened risk of disability accumulation

With therapies, researchers are investigating personal changes that MS patients can make. These may improve their condition.

Proper diet and regular exercise seem to do wonders in treating the disease. But, researchers are searching for more specific answers. These may drive better evidence-based recommendations.

6. Diet and Nutrition

Everyone knows that a healthy diet and proper nutrition are important. This is especially when it comes to positive health outcomes and well-being. But, researchers have been seeming to jump even more into the subject.

Scientists have an even better understanding of nutrition because of the studies of the last decade. They now understand even more about nutrition, disease, and disease prevention. Lifestyle routines and dietary habits are much more influential than we may like to believe.

More specifically, researchers focused on implications surrounding a whole-foods plant-based diet. The popular movement for a plant-based diet is rooted in science.

Researchers have shown that these diets are cost-effective and low-risk interventions. They're especially useful for patients who may be suffering from a myriad of problems.

This is why you may notice such a large push from the medical community for Meatless Mondays and healthier alternatives.

More specifically, those who engage in these interventions may see more control over high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and other harmful conditions. This means that these diets are linked to disease prevention as well. Individuals who eat a plant-based diet may be at a lower risk for developing conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Since research has shown longevity and healthfulness for those who eat a plant-based diet, there has been a massive shift in eating patterns around the world. Suddenly, more people have been fighting large food corporations to offer healthier options and be clearer about ingredients.

7. Robots

Robots have been around for a while, but we've never seen them like this. Health advancements over the last few years have pushed for robotic exoskeletons. These are robotic parts that can replace parts of our bodies.

No, we're not constructing ourselves into human robots. Rather, we're using these parts to help paraplegics, spina bifida patients, and others who have skeletal issues.

There's even an entire suit that can read your mind by detailing your brain activity. Then, it moves based on the instructions that it reads from your brain. Although, most of these devices are remote-controlled.

Devices like these can give people their limbs, spine, and abilities back. People who couldn't walk can do so with the help of these robots.

What used to be reserved for movies has finally reached real life. And, more research is going into making these devices more lifelike.

8. Genome

Genomics is the study of the complete set of DNA within individuals. You may have heard of the Human Genome Project, which traced every single gene in the human genome.

Mapping genomes can help scientists understand how different genes interact with one another as well as the environment.

Because of the insight that genomes give scientists, researchers have been engaging in genome-based research. Many research studies are involved in tracking and controlling cancer genes. If our physicians know that we're susceptible to a certain kind of cancer, they can make better decisions about our preventative care.

More than that, understand someone's genetic makeup can help physicians take evidence-based approaches to their care in general. The human genome can become a decision-making tool for providers as they begin to understand the conditions that that individual may be more susceptible to.

If you're interested in mapping your genome or tracing specific genetic factors, you should ask your primary physician about options in your area. They may be able to help you, especially if you're interested in tracing a specific gene.

One of the most popular tests related to the genome is that involving breast cancer genes. Many people decide to get this kind of test if they find out that one of their close relatives received a poor diagnosis. Knowing this information could improve preventative care and help you and your medical professionals get ahead of the problem.

All in all, it's important to understand that it's your right to know as much as possible about your health. While we don't recommend obsessing over every single gene, we do understand that knowledge is power. Talk to your physician if you have any questions regarding these tests.

Health Advancements in Preventative Medications

Your physician is likely encouraging you to practice preventative medicine. This means that you're working to prevent diseases before they happen.

Sometimes, this involves receiving prescriptions. And, if that happens, we're here to help. You can fill your prescriptions online in minutes.

You'll be taking care of your body in no time. And, just think of the health advancements that could happen while you're elongating your life!

Works Cited

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK223602/
  • https://www.nature.com/subjects/cancer-immunotherapy#:~:text=Cancer%20immunotherapy%20is%20a%20therapy,vaccines%20and%20T%20cell%20infusions.
  • https://www.webmd.com/cancer/how-many-cancer-deaths-per-year#:~:text=In%202018%2C%20an%20estimated%209.5,countries%20all%20around%20the%20world.
  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/transcatheter-aortic-valve-replacement/about/pac-20384698#:~:text=Transcatheter%20aortic%20valve%20replacement%20(TAVR)%20is%20a%20minimally%20invasive%20procedure,guide%20it%20to%20your%20heart.
  • https://www.avert.org/professionals/history-hiv-aids/overview
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/hiv-risk-in-gay-men#risk
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  • https://www.npr.org/2020/11/16/935475284/scientists-discover-a-link-between-lack-of-deep-sleep-and-alzheimers-disease#:~:text=Ethics-,Scientists%20Discover%20A%20Link%20Between%20Lack%20Of%20Deep%20Sleep%20And,removes%20toxins%20associated%20with%20Alzheimer's.
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