“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it.” — Albert Einstein
Americans can now expect to live to an average age of 78 years, almost twice as long as they did in the early 19th Century, according to Susan Blumenthal, Public Health Editor at Huffington Post. Blumenthal also points out that by 2030, one in five Americans will be over 65. The US Census Bureau has identified 79,000 people over a 100 in the country. This number will increase to more than 200,000 by 2030.
Improved public health conditions, and better diet, medical care and living habits have increased our life expectancy. But as we live longer, we still become vulnerable to more illnesses and health problems. Our bodies don’t age evenly. So it’s possible to have a great heart reading, for instance, and still have poor strength and balance.
As retirees approach their 80s and 90s, and even their centenarian years, they look forward to doing so with minimum debilitation and good health. One way to do so is through medical innovation. Given recent advancements in science, good health is fast becoming like a protocol of spare parts replacement and human engine tune-up.
Here are five astounding medical innovations that can help us radically defy old age.
Responsive Neurostimulator for Unmanageable Epilepsy — More than 675,000 Americans with epilepsy will experience seizures that don’t respond to medical treatment. This particular device is implanted surgically under the skin, on the skull. It deciphers electrical patterns that pass through leads placed on a subject’s brain in the area that prompts seizures. Triggers for these seizures are detected by the unit, and short-circuited with rapid electrical pulses.
According to an article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, this system is very much like other neuromodulation therapies already on the market — for instance a therapy that “interrupts the pain of migraine and cluster headaches” with electrical stimulation brought about through a unit implanted in the gum.
Tumor-Drug Matching Test — Cancer can appear as one of many genetic diseases. Physicians therefore are unable to make a quick analysis of the nature of the tumor and the particular drug that can treat it. The patient often has to bear the brunt of trial and error, until the oncologist can determine which drug will work.
A Cambridge, Massachusetts startup, Foundation Medicine Inc., launched a test last year that gives physicians the wherewithal to test a tumor sample for 280 different genetic mutations that might be responsible for the growth of a particular tumor. This kind of testing can help oncologists rapidly target the right drug therapy to arrest tumor development.
The Smartphone EKG — Only your physician, medical insurance provider, and God know what an EKG procedure costs. That privileged scenario is about to change, with a case that can attach to an iPhone that has electrodes on the back. Only $199, AliveCor will read heart rhythms and relay the recording to an iPhone app. Physicians will then be able to read the data. The company is also developing a $99 version of this instrument, that will permit patients to record their own heart data when they feel heart symptoms or irregularities.
Bee Venom Nanoparticles that Can Kill the AIDS Virus — All that frantic work to save disappearing bees has paid off. Healthline.com reports that researchers discovered a toxin in bee venom that can penetrate the protective coating of HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS, while leaving healthy human cells protected. Soon researchers may be able to create a vaginal cream with bee venom nanoparticles. This cream could easily serve as a low-cost method for preventing infection.
American retirees are now on notice: the era of the Bionic Man and Woman is upon us!