The Anonymous Widower

Statins Are Not To Blame For Most Muscle Pain, Scientists Conclude

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times.

This is the first two paragraphs, that outlines the study.

Fears over statin side effects are unfounded as they only lead to muscle pain in 1 per cent of patients, a comprehensive study has shown.

University of Oxford scientists say they have “definitively” proven wrong the widespread belief that statins are a common cause of muscle symptoms.

Can my experience, add anything to the argument?

  • I am seventy-five years, 170 cms. in height and weigh just over sixty-two kilograms.
  • I have been taking statins, at least since I had my stroke ten years ago.
  • I have been diagnosed with arthritis in my left knee. I put this down to the fact, that my wife and I had three small children fifty years ago and lived in a fifth-floor flat with no lift. All the carrying up the stairs damaged the knee and it flares up every ten years or so!
  • I have constant minor pain in my left humerus, which was broken by the school bully, when I was fourteen.
  • When I was diagnosed as a coeliac and went gluten-free, a lot of my muscle and joint pains were reduced.
  • The pain levels seem to have risen again since going on statins.

This page on the NHS web site is an overview of Coeliac Disease.

In a section, which is called Who’s Affected?, this is said.

Coeliac disease is a condition that affects at least 1 in every 100 people in the UK.

But some experts think this may be underestimated because milder cases may go undiagnosed or be misdiagnosed as other digestive conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Reported cases of coeliac disease are around 3 times higher in women than men.

I also believe that the number of diagnosed coeliacs, is also affected by the fact that there was no test for coeliac disease in children until 1960 and that a reliable genetic test wasn’t available until the 1990s. This will lead to numbers of undiagnosed coeliacs in the older population.

Coincidence Or Just Facts?

Note that statin side effects only lead to muscle pain in one per cent of patients according to the report in The Times and one per cent of the population are coeliac.

Conclusion

I’m no medic, but I am a coeliac and an analyser of data. I believe that better analysis of the data may add some new insight.

For instance, as coeliac disease is three times higher in women, then if it is involved, then it would mean that the muscle pain ratios will have a sex component.

I also believe, that all medical research databases, should record, whether the participants are coeliacs.

 

August 29, 2022 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Care Homes In England Had Greatest Increase In Excess Deaths At Height Of The COVID-19 Pandemic

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the University of Stirling web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Care homes in England experienced the highest increase in excess deaths at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those in the rest of the UK, according to new research.

The actual figures are as follows.

  • England – 79 %
  • Northern Ireland – 46 %
  • Scotland – 62 %
  • Wales – 66 %

So why are the three Celtic nations, doing better than England?

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I said this.

How many undiagnosed coeliacs are there in those over seventy, who because they are coeliacs, have a compromised immune system?

I would be undiagnosed but for that elderly locum!

How many other coeliacs are there in the UK population?

    • Age UK has a figure of twelve million who are over 65 in the UK.
    • If 1-in-100, as stated by Coeliac UK, in the UK are coeliac, that is 120,000 undiagnosed coeliacs over 65.

Will these 120,000 people have a compromised immune system, that makes them  more susceptible to Covid-19?

It has been said, that a good immune system helps you fight Covid-19!

If those 120,000 elderly undiagnosed coeliacs have a compromised immune system, how many are in poor health with cancer, arthritis and general poor health and have decided that a care home is best.

Coeliac Disease And The Celts

The Irish have a history of coeliac disease, which I have heard suggested goes back to the potato famine.

Certainly, the whole island of Ireland is a coeliac friendly place compared to some parts of England. Although, Liverpool with its strong Irish heritage is an exception.

Conclusion

I do wonder, if understanding of coeliac disease in the three Celtic nations is better than it is in England and a higher proportion of elderly coeliacs have been diagnosed.

Any younger coeliac born after about 1980, has probably been picked up, for the simple reason, that most GPs these days take regular blood tests and do seem to be more knowledgeable about the disease than GPs were before about 1980.

According to my GP, to test a child, is normally just a simple blood test and an analysis at a lab. Only a few cases, will need an endoscopy.

So do we have this population of undiagnosed coeliacs with compromised immune systems in English care homes?

Perhaps, everybody in a care home, should be tested for coeliac disease?

If nothing else, it may save money on cancer care, as diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet are 25 % less likely to suffer from cancer.

 

August 30, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Surviving Lockdown

People ask if I am surviving lockdown.

I am lucky in several ways.

Housing

I live in a spacious house, which is comfortable.

Although, it does have problems.

  • It was built by a Turkish Jerrybuilder, who bought fixtures and fittings at the cheapest price possible.
  • It gets too hot.
  • The plumbing is suspect.
  • The air-conditioner is broken and the service company, have had my money to fix it, but won’t come.
  • The smoke detector above my bed is just hanging there, as I wrote in A Design Crime – The Average Smoke Detector

Hopefully, when we beat COVID-19, I’ll be able to move.

Finances

My investments give me enough to live comfortably. If you call, living in two rooms, never talking face-to-face with anybody living comfortably.

Exercise

I am still fit and can exercise as much as I need and is recommended.

I have a workout that I do twice a day, which includes movements like press-ups, stretches and single-leg stands.

I can do two dozen press-ups straight off or walk three miles, if I need to.

Health

My health is good, despite being a coeliac and suffering a serious stroke ten years ago.

  • I test my own INR.
  • I seem to have survived my fall of a month ago.
  • I only go to the surgery for B12 injections, drug reviews and the odd problem.

Other than that I just suffer from the problems of a healthy man of 72, like arthritis and hay fever.

I do have a strange skin, that leaks a lot of water and doesn’t bleed, when I have an injection or a doctor or nurse takes blood. I never have a plaster after either procedure.

Food

I am a reasonable and very practical cook, or so my son and various friends tell me. These are some meals, I’ve been cooking under lockdown.

Sardines And Baked Eggs

Pasta With Yogurt Sauce For One

Goat’s Cheese, Strawberry And Basil Salad

Cod And Tomato With Basil

Lemon And Spinach Cod Gratin

Smoked Haddock And Curried Rice

I shall add more here.

I won’t starve!

Shopping

A Marks and Spencer food store is fifteen minutes walk away, so I can get all the food I need.

I also got plenty of Adnams 0.5% alcohol Ghost Ship beers direct from the brewers delivered last week.

Their beers have been a lifeline, as they are gluten-free, thirst-quenching and don’t get me drunk. Even in quantity!

I also have safe delivery without any contact, as the couriers just ring my bell, we chat through the window about three metres away and they leave the goods on the step.

I didn’t think about lockdown, when I bought this house, but it is ideal for safe COVID-19-free deliveries.

Lockdown Practice

There can’t be many people, now going through the COVID-19 lockdown, wo have locked themselves away so many times in their life as I have.

  • At the age of about six, I spent three months or more, in isolation because I caught scarlet fever.
  • For the summer before A-Levels, my parents went to their house in Felixstowe. For part of the time, I locked myself in my bedroom and read up on my A level Physics.
  • A couple of times at ICI, I self-isolated with a computer to get important jobs done. How many have used an IBM-360 as a PC?
  • I self-isolated to write Speed, my first piece of independent software.
  • Pert7 and other software for Time Sharing Ltd was written overnight sitting in the window of their offices on Great Portland Street.
  • Artemis was written in an attic in Suffolk, with no-one else around for most of the time.
  • The special PC version of Artemis, that was a combined project management, database and spreadsheet program, was also written under lockdown.
  • After Celia died, I wrote Travels With My Celia(c) under lockdown. You can download the pdf file here.

Lockdown has almost been a way of life for me.

But on past form, I certainly have the mental strength to get through lockdown unscathed.

Conclusion

There must be a lot of others in much worse situations than myself.

 

April 18, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Food, Health, World | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

AI ‘Outperforms’ Doctors Diagnosing Breast Cancer

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Artificial intelligence is more accurate than doctors in diagnosing breast cancer from mammograms, a study in the journal Nature suggests.

An international team, including researchers from Google Health and Imperial College London, designed and trained a computer model on X-ray images from nearly 29,000 women.

I have rarely worked with healthcare data, so I can’t comment on the accuracy of this trial.

However, over fifty years ago, I was able to make a lot of progress in the analysis of mass spectrometry data, by observing operators and asking how they identified various chemicals in the scan from the mass spectrometer.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find some detailed observation of the working methods of radiologists, formed the foundation data for this research.

The research seems to have done it well, judging by the published results.

Should we trust ourselves to methods like this in healthcare?

Undoubtedly! Yes!

Many systems like this are starting to be used in the maintenance of complex entities, as diverse as trains, planes, chemical works and advanced automated distribution depots.

But every fault, is always tested by a trained person.

This is a paragraph from the BBC article.

Prof Ara Darzi, report co-author and director of the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Imperial Centre, told the BBC: “This went far beyond my expectations. It will have a significant impact on improving the quality of reporting, and also free up radiologists to do even more important things.”

I very much feel we will see very much more of this automated testing of the human body! And not just for cancer!

I already know of groups working on automatic diagnosis of arthritis!

 

January 2, 2020 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , , | 1 Comment

Access To Multiple Units

I have been taking some pictures of the grab handles in the doorways of a selection of electric and diesel multiple units.

On most stations, the access between platform and train is a simple step across, but on lots of others, I have to grab the handle to make certain I am safe in the step-up or step-down.

Note

  1. The British Rail-era trains have similar designs.
  2. On some trains, you can’t see the grab handle from the platform, as it is hidden by the door.
  3. The Class 172 and Class 378 Trains are both Bombardier trains of a similar date, but the handles are very different.
  4. The Class 378 train has an asymmetric layout.

I will add more examples.

My Entry And Exit With A Large Step

When I get into a train, where there is a large step, I often poke my head around the door to get a good look at the handle on the right hand side, which I grip with my right hand to balance myself as I step up.

When I get out from a train, where there is a large step, I go to the right, grab the handle and then step out sideways onto my left leg.

I should say that I have the following problems.

  • My left hand and arm isn’t the best, as my humerus was broken by the school bully.
  • I tend to avoid using my left hand.
  • My stroke a few years ago damaged my eyesight low down on the left, so when descending I like to have something to grab.
  • I have a touch of arthritis.
  • I am only one metre seventy tall.

On the other hand, my right hand and arm are strong. I also have no vision problem on the right hand side.

Could Grab Handles Be Designed Better?

They could certainly be designed better for me!

But I am one of millions, who are less than one hundred percent!

I wonder if a University or Design Consultancy has ever looked at the problem of designing a perfect grab handle for a train.

My ideas could include.

  • A grab handle that is longer and goes lower, so it is better for short people and lder children.
  • A grab handle that protrudes slightly from behind the open door, so that entering passengers can see it.
  • A grab handle with a textured surface.
  • Should the grab handle layout be symmetrical.

I would suspect, that if a better design of grab handle could be found, this would speed up entry and exit from the train. Surely train operating companies would like that?

This is not the finished post. Any suggestions and comments will be welcomed.

 

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

I Think My Bilbao Trip Did Me Good

Yesterday, I had lunch with an old friend, S.  She thought that I might have got the old twinkle back in my eye.

But there have been various changes I’ve noticed since my return.

The major one is that my body seems to have gone much closer to like it was, before I had the stroke three and a half years ago. My fitness trainer came round on Monday and she got me to do stretches that I have found impossible in the last few years. I could actually put my left arm up my back and my right arm over my left shoulder and touch hands.  Which is something, I probably haven’t done since 2009. In this area, I’ve also noticed that I can fold my arms in front of my chest.  And both ways to boot!

I walked today to the Regent’s Canal and my feet behaved themselves with only a touch of the pain doctors say is arthritis, that has been with me since the 1960s and at times has been bad in the last ten years.

I also had two glasses of wine with S.  And both of them tasted like wine. For the last few years, a lot of wine could have been anything, as it was tasteless.  The only thing, that seemed to have taste, was the Waitrose lemonade, that I use virtually as a mouthwash.

I certainly tasted the chilli-enriched shepherd’s pie tonight.

Even my nose doesn’t seem to running so much and  certainly the dull pain in my lower jaw and teeth has lessened. My nose hasn’t bled either!

My brain seems to be on top form, and I’m fairly certain, that the mean time, it takes me to solve the Super Fiendish sudokus in The Times has decreased. My short term memory seems better too!

I can now wear my watch on my left hand and even doing up shirt buttons is easier.  I suspect the latter might be a clue, as men do up shirt buttons with just their right hand, and mine wasn’t affected by the stroke.  But I have found buttons difficult for the last three years.

Also, since I arrived in Biarritz, I have found taking my INR a lot easier and much less messy.  Could it be that my skin has absorbed a lot of water and now it is much more normal. It certainly feels a lot less dry. The only thing I put on my hands are water, soap and gloves. Moisturisers are for wimps. And on the subject of my hands, I can now cut all my nails myself a lot more easily!

Can all of this be down to the mild, sunny, humid weather I encountered on my trip to and from Bilbao? I had in fact, first noticed the return of the arm crossing ability, when I was lying in bed in the hotel in Bordeaux.

To try to recreate that lovely atmosphere, I’ve had my humidifier on full since I returned and a hire company is delivering a bigger one tomorrow!

I intend to prolong this good feeling.

December 19, 2013 Posted by | Health | , , | 6 Comments

Equine Research Day at Leahurst

The purpose of my trip to Leahurst was to go a series of presentations, about the work of the equine work of the School of Veterinary Science at Liverpool University.

It was a comprehensive series of talks, ranging across the whole field of equine welfare research.

One of the biggest areas talked about was colic and how to prevent it.  I was quite surprised at how much of the research was done using computers to analyse databases of incidences of colic and other collected and observed data.  I always believed that analysis of events is a very powerful tool to getting to the bottom of problems and my software; Daisy, has been used in numerous applications, although it’s all stagnated a bit, due to my illness.

There was also a presentation on obesity in horses, which is just as serious for them, as it is for humans.

But in some ways the biggest surprise was all the work done on arthitis in horses and humans, which is being funded in part by Arthritis Research UK.  The aim is to learn more about this disease and be able to diagnose it earlier in all animals.

I believe they are putting the presentations on the Internet and I will link to them, when they are available.

March 9, 2013 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

Poor Quality Arthritis

I mentioned in an earlier post, that a couple of weeks ago, I was suffering arthritis in my right knee. This was probably the reason, why after the stroke, my left leg was stronger than my right.

But after some physio ten days ago, it seems to have gone or at least died down.  I also went t0 the physio yesterday and she said it was a lot better.

I’m saying thanks for small mercies.

September 15, 2010 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Now I’ve Got A Gammy Knee!

Over the last couple of days, I’ve had a minor difficulty getting up from a chair.  I was just getting a bit of pain in my right knee.  I had to see the GP yesterday and she looked at it.  I had thought it might be something to do with the stroke, but it was just a touch of arthritis.  As I was seeing the physio after the GP, she had something else to do and she gave it some therapy.  It’s a lot better this morning.

The gastroenterologist I saw on Friday last week told me that I had some sort of bio-chemical problem and this was resulting in my poor nails.  They took some blood to check what it was.

Now before I was diagnosed as a coeliac, I had lots of problems and pain in my left knee.  These had started when I was about 25 and one doctor in those days, suggested I had an operation.  When we moved to Suffolk in 1975, a new doctor, recommended some exercises and except for the odd stickiness when I got up from the floor, I never had any more problems.

All of these knee problems got a lot better with a gluten-free diet.

So now it’s the other knee!

Ever since I’ve had the stroke, I’ve worried that something is wrong with the bio-chemistry of my body.  I’ll laugh like a drain if I’m low on vitamin B12!

But what do I know about medicine! Not a lot! But I do know my body!

In addition to the knee and nails, I’ve also got a certain amount of the runs and I am sleeping a lot and very well. The latter is probably due to the body needing time to recover.

September 9, 2010 Posted by | Health | , , , | 1 Comment

The Juice Carton Spanner

I have a weak left hand due to a stroke and find opening the plastic cartons for things like Innocent smoothies, a little difficult.  But I’m getting better and I had no trouble a few minutes ago. However, there must be many others who do, as perhaps their hands are worse than mine because of arthritis or missing fingers.

But all the caps are the same and it should be possible to create a small plastic ring spanner that mates with the cap perfectly.  Companies like Innocent might even give them away free with an advert on them, as they’d only cost a few pence each to make.

There are still so many things that need inventing!

I always remember my father had a wonderful pair of round-jawed pliers, that were always being used to open difficult bottles at home.  I’v never seen anything like them since.

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | 5 Comments