New Study: Even Safe Levels Of Alcohol May Be Risky For The Heart

New Study: Even Safe Levels Of Alcohol May Be Risky For The Heart

Bottles of alcohol are displayed at Bar Convent Brooklyn, an international bar & beverage trade show at the Brooklyn Expo Center on June 12, 2018 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Darko Manevski

Drinking levels of alcohol regarded as safe in some countries can still be linked with the development of heart failure, according to research presented at Heart Failure 2022, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Study author, Dr. Bethany Wong of St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, said: “This study adds to the body of evidence that a more cautious approach to alcohol consumption is needed.

“To minimize the risk of alcohol causing harm to the heart, if you don’t drink, don’t start. If you do drink, limit your weekly consumption to less than one bottle of wine or less than three-and-a-half 500 ml cans of 4.5 percent beer.”

According to the World Health Organization, the European Union is the heaviest-drinking region in the world.

While it is well recognized that long-term heavy alcohol use can cause a type of heart failure called alcoholic cardiomyopathy, evidence from Asian populations suggests that lower amounts may also be detrimental.

Dr. Wong added: “As there are genetic and environmental differences between Asian and European populations, this study investigated if there was a similar relationship between alcohol and cardiac changes in Europeans at risk of heart failure or with pre-heart failure.

“The mainstay of treatment for this group is management of risk factors such as alcohol, so knowledge about safe levels is crucial.”

This was a secondary analysis of the STOP-HF trial.

The study included 744 adults over 40 years of age either at risk of developing heart failure due to risk factors (e.g. high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity) or with pre-heart failure (risk factors and heart abnormalities but no symptoms).

Bottles of liquor sit on a shelf in a Manhattan bar November 1, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The average age was 66.5 years and 53 percent were women. The study excluded former drinkers and heart failure patients with symptoms (e.g. shortness of breath, tiredness, reduced ability to exercise, swollen ankles). Heart function was measured with echocardiography at baseline and follow-up.

The study used the Irish definition of one standard drink (i.e. one unit), which is 10 grams of alcohol. Participants were categorized according to their weekly alcohol intake:

1) none;

2) low (less than seven units; up to one 750 milliliter (25 ounces) bottle of 12.5 percent wine or three-and-a-half 500 milliliter (16 ounce) cans of 4.5 percent beer);

3) moderate (7-14 units; up to two bottles of 12.5 percent wine or seven 500 milliliter cans of 4.5 percent beer);

4) high (above 14 units; more than two bottles of 12.5 percent wine or seven 500 milliliter cans of 4.5 percent beer).

The researchers analyzed the association between alcohol use and heart health over a median of 5.4 years. The results were reported separately for the at-risk and pre-heart failure groups. In the at-risk group, worsening heart health was defined as progression to pre-heart failure or to symptomatic heart failure.

Bottles of liquor sit on a shelf in a Manhattan bar November 1, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

For the pre-heart failure group, worsening heart health was defined as deterioration in the squeezing or relaxation functions of the heart or progression to symptomatic heart failure. The analyses were adjusted for factors that can affect heart structure, including age, gender, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and vascular disease.

A total of 201 (27 percent) patients reported no alcohol usage, while 356 (48 percent) were low users and 187 (25 percent) had moderate or high intake. Compared to the low intake group, those with moderate or high use were younger, more likely to be male, and had a higher body mass index.

In the pre-heart failure group, compared with no alcohol use, moderate or high intake was associated with a 4.5-fold increased risk of worsening heart health. The relationship was also observed when moderate and high levels were analyzed separately.

“In the at-risk group, there was no association between moderate or high alcohol use with progression to pre-heart failure or to symptomatic heart failure. No protective associations were found for low alcohol intake.

Dr. Wong said: “Our study suggests that drinking more than 70 g of alcohol per week is associated with worsening pre-heart failure or progression to symptomatic heart failure in Europeans. We did not observe any benefits of low alcohol usage.

“Our results indicate that countries should advocate lower limits of safe alcohol intake in pre-heart failure patients. In Ireland, for example, those at risk of heart failure or with pre-heart failure are advised to restrict weekly alcohol intake to 11 units for women and 17 units for men.

“This limit for men is more than twice the amount we found to be safe. More research is needed in Caucasian populations to align results and reduce the mixed messages that clinicians, patients and the public are currently getting.”

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Key Facts About Monkeypox: What You Need To Know

Key Facts About Monkeypox: What You Need To Know

An electron microscope image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

By Adriana Navarro

Even as new COVID-19 variants rage, a new health scare is lurking.

Outbreaks of monkeypox have occurred in at least 12 countries that don’t normally see cases of the disease, sparking new concern over possible health implications.

The United States had between one and five confirmed cases as of May 21, according to surveillance from the World Health Organization (WHO).

While that’s a small amount of cases, compared to outbreaks of the virus in Africa over the years, the hashtag #Monkeypoxalypse soon began circulating on Twitter.

Scientists are still learning about this disease, including the extent of human transmission. But here is what we know so far about this smallpox cousin.

Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to a subset of the Poxvirida family of viruses called Orthopoxvirus. Viruses also grouped into this subset include cowpox and smallpox, making monkeypox related, according to WHO.

Monkeypox manifests itself as numerous bumps on the skin. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

While the presentation of monkeypox resembles smallpox, the former is less contagious and causes less severe illness. That’s not to say the virus should be underestimated, however. Of the two clades of monkeypox referred to as the West African clade and Congo Basin clade, the former has a case fatality rate of 3.6%, compared to the latter’s 10.6%, according to WHO. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration noted that variola major, the severe form of smallpox, had a case fatality rate of 30%.

Like cowpox, monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease, meaning it can spread from animals to humans. Unlike cowpox, however, there has been evidence of human-to-human transmission, primarily through close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials, such as bedding, according to WHO.

SARS-CoV-2 is also zoonotic, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that transmission of monkeypox will explode in the same way COVID-19 did.

Monkeypox has been around since it was discovered in monkeys in a Danish laboratory in 1958. The first human case was identified in a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1970, according to WHO.

Since its discovery, human cases have been reported across 11 countries in Central and West Africa, with the DRC recently experiencing an outbreak involving more than 1,200 cumulative cases from Jan. 1 to May 1, 2022, with at least 57 recorded deaths. Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Nigeria also experienced monkeypox outbreaks between Dec. 15 and May 1 this year. While no human cases have been reported in Ghana, WHO also counts it among the endemic countries, due to the animal infections reported.

If monkeypox has been around since the 1970s, then why is it making headlines now?

Recorded cases of monkeypox outside of Africa, specifically in the U.S., are usually rare. Monkeypox doesn’t occur “naturally” in the U.S., though cases have been previously reported that were associated with international travel or importing animals from where the disease is more common, according to the CDC.

However, as of May 21, roughly 92 laboratory-confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases of monkeypox have been reported in at least 12 countries outside of Central and West Africa that typically don’t see frequent cases — referred to as “non-endemic” countries. This includes several European nations, Australia, Canada and the U.S.

No deaths have been reported regarding this group of outbreaks to date, according to WHO.

The first recorded case this year in the U.S. was on May 18, 2022, when a Massachusetts resident tested positive for monkeypox after returning to the U.S. from Canada, according to the CDC.

To help prevent the spread of monkeypox, the CDC recommends practicing good hand hygiene after contact with infected animals or humans. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

While monkeypox in the U.S. is rare, that’s not to say that it hasn’t been previously detected here. The CDC confirmed two cases of the virus in 2021, one in a Texas resident in July and another in a Maryland resident in November. Both had returned from their respective trips from Nigeria.

The first time monkeypox was reported in the U.S. was 2003, when a shipment of animals, including various rodents, from Ghana to Texas, introduced the virus into the U.S., according to investigators. CDC laboratory testing later showed that a few of the rodents were infected, though not before the animals had been housed near prairie dogs at an animal vendor facility. The prairie dogs were later sold as pets before developing signs of infection.

In total, there were 47 cases of confirmed and probable cases of monkeypox across six states — Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to the CDC. A study later conducted showed that certain activities  such as touching a sick animal and receiving a bite or scratch that broke the skin, were more likely to lead to an infection. Cleaning the cage or touching the bedding of a sick animal were also important factors.

No instances of the 2003 outbreak were attributed exclusively to person-to-person contact, per the CDC.

The reported cases in this recent outbreak have no established travel links to an endemic area, which is unusual, compared to cases from over the years, according to WHO. The agency said it expects more cases in non-endemic areas to be reported with available information suggesting human-to-human transmission is occurring among people in close physical contact with people who are symptomatic.

WHO said it is investigating the mechanics of exactly how monkeypox is transmitted, and it likely differs from SARS-CoV-2. The general precautions recommended against COVID-19 are also expected to protect against monkeypox virus transmission in cases of large gatherings.

Transmission via droplet respiratory particles usually requires prolonged face-to-face contact, and WHO stressed that health workers, household members and other close contacts of active cases are at greater risk.

Transmission can also occur via the placenta from parent to fetus or during close contact during and after birth.

It’s currently unclear if monkeypox can be transmitted specifically through sexual transmission.

The incubation period, or time from infection to the onset of symptoms, is typically between six and 13 days, though it can range from five to 21 days, health experts said.

The infection itself can be divided into two stages: the invasion period, which may feel similar to the flu, and a period characterized by skin eruptions.

The invasion period may include fever, intense headache, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy), back pain, muscle aches (myalgia) and a lack of energy (asthenia).

Rashes that form during the second stage tend to be more concentrated on the face and extremities and evolve from lesions with a flat base to ones filled with a clear or yellow fluid.

Earlier studies found vaccination against smallpox had previously been about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, according to WHO, meaning prior vaccination against the virus may result in milder illness. However, the vaccination of the general public against smallpox came to an end after the World Health Assembly declared smallpox eradicated in 1980. Due to this, people younger than 50 may be more susceptible to monkeypox.

Severe cases have occurred more commonly among children, relating to factors such as the extent of exposure, the patient’s health status and any health complications. It can also be severe in pregnant people and persons with immune suppression, due to other health conditions, according to WHO.

A vaccine (MVA-BN) and the treatment Tecovirimat were approved for the treatment of monkeypox in 2019 and 2022, respectively, but they are not yet widely available.

Produced in association with AccuWeather.

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Deep Water: Taking Sea Water To Drink From Ocean Depths Could Boost Health And Concentration

Deep Water: Taking Sea Water To Drink From Ocean Depths Could Boost Health And Concentration

The figure shows a comparison of the changes in serum parameters for control, HFD-treated, and HFD-plus DSW-extract-added water-treated mice. (Koji Fukui from Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT), Japan/Zenger).

By Darko Manevski

New research has shown that a Japanese health trend of drinking deep seawater does bring real health benefits.

In Japan, deep seawater (DSW) is commonly drunk due to its supposed health benefits and it is also used for cosmetic purposes and as seasoning.

A worker checks the saline content of salt water during the salt making process at Endenmura salt farm on August 25, 2020 in Suzu, Japan.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

And now new research has shown that DSW really does have health benefits, although the scientists have not been able to ascertain exactly the mechanism in place that provides those benefits.

It is a fact that DSW is a treasure trove of minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium, which human beings require for important functions.

With this in mind, scientists from the Shibaura Institute of Technology decided to further explore the biological effects of DSW extract-added water in obese mice in a recent study.

The team of scientists, led by Professor Koji Fukui of the Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT) and including Yugo Kato, PhD, from SIT, Mr Hirotsugu Takenaka from Dydo-Takenaka Beverage Co., Ltd, and Masahiro Kohno, PhD, from SIT, explored the biological effects of DSW in obese mice.

A worker displays white mice at an animal laboratory of a medical school on February 16, 2008 in Chongqing Municipality, China. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

They also determined what hardness of the water could have the biggest positive impact on health with their findings published in the journal Nutrients.

First, the researchers prepared DSW extract-added water of different levels of hardness (200, 300 and 500) from DSW taken off the coast of Muroto city, Kochi Prefecture, Japan.

They then administered the DSW extract-added water to obese mice over two months and evaluated if it had any effect on their cognitive and coordinative functions and also on their blood and biochemical parameters.

These mice were compared with control mice that were fed the same high-fat diet, but no DSW extract-added water.

The effect of DSW on cognitive and coordinative functions was evaluated by using various tasks. To determine the mechanism of cognitive improvement in the tests, the expression of neurotrophic factors and their receptors in the brain was evaluated. Quantitative analysis was conducted using spectroscopy.

Prof. Fukui said: “Although we did not observe an anti-obesity effect for any hardness level in the obese mice, the cognitive and coordinative functions of each DSW extract-added water-treated group were significantly improved compared to the control mice.”

Treatment with DSW extract-added water significantly increased hippocampal NGF secretion in the obese mice.

Additionally, serum parameters like blood urea nitrogen, inorganic phosphorus, amylase and glucose were decreased in the DSW extract-added water group compared to the control group, indicating a positive impact on renal function.

A qualitative analysis of DSW extract-added water at a hardness level of 300 revealed higher concentrations of potassium and magnesium (11 and seven times that of filtered tap water, respectively).

Interestingly, sodium levels for water at this hardness level were found to be lower.

A glass is filled with water from the tap July 9, 2003 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)

Prof. Fukui added: “It is important to keep sodium ion concentrations low when concentrating DSW. It is well known that high sodium levels are a high-risk factor for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular risk.”

The researchers’ findings provide new insights on the amount of mineral nutrients safe for chronic intake through drinking water.

When asked about the broader applications of this research, Prof. Fukui surmised: “A continued intake of beverages containing moderate mineral levels may help maintain proper health. It may reduce the risk of developing various age-related illnesses, such as renal disease, high blood pressure, cognition and coordination abilities, and lipid metabolism disorders.”

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Miami Heat’s Victor Oladipo Battles A Familiar Foe: Adversity

Miami Heat’s Victor Oladipo Battles A Familiar Foe: Adversity

Participants in a recent Pivot Podcast were Fred Taylor, Ryan Clark, Victor Oladipo and Channing Crowder. (Courtesy of Swanson Communications)

By Lem Satterfield

Victor Oladipo and the Miami Heat face a tough challenge entering Game 5 of Wednesday’s Eastern Conference Finals at the Boston Celtics’ TD Garden. The best-of-seven series is tied 2-2, with Boston having the momentum after winning Monday night by 20 points.

It’s not as if the Silver Spring, Md., native hasn’t faced adversity before.

The 6-foot-4 guard described his journey during a recent edition of the Pivot Podcast. The wide-ranging interview was hosted by former NFL players Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor. Overcoming serious injuries was among the topics discussed with Oladipo, a 2013 alumnus of Indiana University.

Oladipo ruptured his right quadriceps tendon in January 2019 while playing with the Indian Pacers. He endured a second surgery on the quad last year but has returned to play a key role in the Heat’s pursuit of an NBA championship, which would be the team’s first since 2013.

“It tests you mentally, physically and emotionally. It makes you go through a whirlwind of emotions,” Oladipo said of the effort to recover from the quad injuries.  “Literally you start thinking about if you’re good enough and if you should keep playing. I was sitting in a dark room, and I just broke down, in tears. I didn’t know where to go.”

At 30, Oladipo said overcoming such adversity helped him realize who was really backing him.

“It’s made me stronger in ways that I probably wouldn’t have been as strong if it didn’t happen the way it happened,” he said.

While Boston won the latest game in the series handily, the Heat’s two-time NBA All-star refuses to give in.

“I’ve come back from everything you can imagine. Why do I have to wait longer?” Olapido said. “There’s a certain level that I’m trying to get to. I have to understand that that’s not my role on this team. I have to understand that I have to be a star in this role that I’m in. To be honest with you, do I want more?”

“Of course, who doesn’t want more? Right now, in this junction, I have to be the best version of myself that this team needs,” he said “They need that version. Regardless of whatever my role is or what they ask of me, they need whatever it is they’re asking for. I have to embrace that.”

Oladipo has a positive outlook on the series, regardless of the Heat’s perceived underdog status.

“We know it’s not going to be easy. We knew it wouldn’t be easy no matter who we play. We know it’s going to be a fight, but we’re all about the fight,” he said. “We’re going to fight regardless, no matter what day it is or what time it is. … I’m sure Boston is similar. We’re looking forward to it.”

Oladipo said both the Heat and Celtics were “great defensive teams, with a bunch of guys who can guard multiple positions and also put it on the floor.

”It’s going to be fun,” he said of the rest of the series with the Celtics.

“I just want to make people remember. Some of them forgot, and it’s okay because it comes with the territory,” Oladipo added. “But I don’t plan on going anywhere but up. I’m just going to keep grinding.”

Edited by Richard Pretorius and Matthew B. Hall

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Tick Talk: Why Such Pests Are Thriving Throughout The Eastern U.S.

Tick Talk: Why Such Pests Are Thriving Throughout The Eastern U.S.

Climate change has contributed to the expanded range of ticks, specifically deer ticks. They thrive in areas where the humidity is at least 85% or higher. (Ryszard/Flickr)

By Allison Finch

Climate change is a disaster for wildlife worldwide.

The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report warns that extinctions could come as temperature rises. In fact, climate change already affects at least 10,967 species, increasing their likelihood of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

But not all species are being negatively affected by climate change. At least one tiny animal is taking advantage of the shifting conditions by growing its population.

Recent studies prove that climate change has contributed to the expanded range of ticks, specifically deer ticks, increasing the potential risk of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection, in areas where ticks were previously unable to survive.

The life cycle and prevalence of deer ticks are strongly influenced by temperature and humidity. Deer ticks are most active when the temperature is above 45 degrees Fahrenheit and thrive in areas where the humidity is at least 85% or higher. Most tick activity starts to decrease once the temperature is below 35 F, according to F&W Pest Control.

It’s important to take precautions to protect against tick bites when camping. (Richard BH/Flickr)

But for ticks to die, the temperature must be below 10 degrees F for a sustained number of days. With winters becoming milder and shorter, this isn’t happening as often. In addition, if a tick is attached to a deer or another host animal, the body temperature of the host will keep them warm enough to survive a cold snap.

“Cold weather to kill the ticks is not as long or as cold,” Dr. Samuel Shor, a clinical associate professor at George Washington University, told Sarah Gisriel, AccuWeather national reporter.

A study published in 2019 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed an increase in the amount of Lyme disease cases across the U.S. The occurrence nearly doubled from 3.74 reported cases per 100,000 people in 1991 to 7.21 reported cases per 100,000 people in 2018, based on data from the CDC.

Among the states where Lyme disease is common, Maine and Vermont have experienced the most significant increase in reported cases since 1991, according to the EPA. Both states are notorious for cold winters, but over the past 40 years, the average temperature during winter has warmed drastically. Without long stretches of cold weather, tick populations don’t die off as frequently.

In Maine, winter temperatures have risen more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, according to a study published by Climate Central. In Vermont, winter temperatures have risen nearly 5 F since 1970. Also, 2010 to 2020 was the warmest 11-year period on record for the state, and the intensity of extreme winter cold is projected to decrease, according to a study published by NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).

Ticks have three stages of life: larva, nymph and adult. And while ticks are active from March to November, the peak season for nymphal ticks is May and June. Nymph ticks are more likely to transmit Lyme disease than adult ticks because of how tiny they are, said the CDC. Since nymph ticks are usually smaller than 2 mm, approximately the size of a poppy seed, they have more time than the adult tick to transmit the bacteria to humans before being discovered and removed.

These ticks are commonly found in wooded areas and on the tips of vegetation, but a blast of wind could carry them to their next victim.

“I’ve seen ticks blown by the wind,” Dr. Steven Bock, the president of the International Lyme and Associated Disease Society said in an interview with Gisriel. “People on a patio, with no grass around them, all of a sudden, they have a tick.”

The occurrence of Lyme disease in the U.S. nearly doubled from 3.74 reported cases per 100,000 people in 1991 to 7.21 reported cases per 100,000 people in 2018, based on data from the CDC. (Stevie Smith/Flickr)

Bock suggests wearing light-colored clothing, long pants with long socks and heavy-duty repellent for extended periods of time outside.

“If you’re going camping, and you’re going to be in infested tick country, then you may want to use clothing that has been sprayed with chemical DEET,” Bock said.

Experts also recommend performing a tick check after spending time outside. Many nymph ticks are too light even to feel. Early signs of Lyme disease include fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint aches, fatigue and a bull’s-eye rash. Doctors say Lyme disease can be transmitted within hours and suggest getting checked out as soon as the symptoms appear.

Produced in association with AccuWeather.

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Little Girl – Big Miracle: A Girl Born Blind Proves Doctors Wrong And Makes Incredible Recovery

Little Girl – Big Miracle: A Girl Born Blind Proves Doctors Wrong And Makes Incredible Recovery

A blind girl has baffled doctors after she regained her sight and 'cured herself' of a usually life-long brain condition. (Amy Geurts/Zenger)

By Michael Leidig

A blind girl has baffled doctors after she regained her sight and ‘cured herself’ of a usually life-long brain condition.

Evie-Mae Geurts was registered blind at just a few months old, and when her head started to swell a few months later, her mum Amy, 28, demanded answers.

Doctors discovered she had hydrocephalus – the build-up of fluid in the ventricles deep within the brain – at just eight months old.
The pressure inside her head was 32 times the normal level, and doctors warned while they could help relieve the pain and build up, the damage to her brain was done.

The continued pressure meant her sight was gone forever, and she’d likely never learn to walk and talk, her mum says doctors claimed.

She had a series of brain operations – including shunts fitted and needles prodded through her skull.

Against all the odds, not only did her sight return when she was a toddler – she also learned to walk and talk.

More than that, her hydrocephalus bizarrely disappeared last year.

Usually, hydrocephalus is a life-long condition that can’t be cured and requires shunts to drain fluid from the brain forever.

Evie-Mae, now seven, is top of the class and can see perfectly without any glasses.

Proud full-time mum Amy, who lives in Bristol with Evie, her husband quarry operative Martyn Geurts, 49, and her two sons Archie, eight, and George, five, said: “Evie is phenomenal.
“We’re so proud of her.

“The doctors admitted because of a delay in diagnosis, they weren’t sure what would happen. They didn’t know if she’d ever be able to see or walk or talk.

A blind girl has baffled doctors after she regained her sight and ‘cured herself’ of a usually life-long brain condition. (Amy Geurts/Zenger)

“Now, she’s living shunt free, talking, walking and she’s ahead of her age in learning.

“They can’t understand – she was globally delayed and now all of a sudden, she’s very forward.

“She’s an amazing little girl, and so brave.”

Amy first took Evie to Bristol Children’s Hospital after a bad cold left her with really red eyes in 2014. The doctors shone a torch in her eyes and found that she had no visual responses, and said she was blind. With Evie’s head continuing to swell, mum Amy repeatedly took her back to the doctors with concerns it could be hydrocephalus.

She said: “I knew of hydrocephalus because my brother has it, and I thought that might be why she had no vision, but I was told I was wrong because she was a smiley baby.

“Even though she was pulling her hair out, I was told that if she did have hydrocephalus, because she’d be worse.

Desperate, Amy turned to her brother’s neurosurgeon for help who diagnosed Evie, aged eight months.

Amy returned to Bristol Children’s Hospital in April 2015 with the diagnosis and said she refused to leave until Evie was seen.

She claims she waited ten hours in A&E before Evie was checked and they were finally told that her soft spot was full of fluid.

She had surgery the next day.

Amy said: “When she came out of theatre, the doctor said it was lucky that I brought her in when I did because she had really high pressure in her brain.

“It’s such a horrible pressure. The pressure in your brain should be at zero, and on a bad migraine, it’ll be five, and Evie’s was 32 and higher when they measured.

“She could have died.

“They said there was a chance that she could never walk or talk because a delay in diagnosis can prevent children from being able to walk or talk. I was devastated.”

Evie had a shunt fitted inside her brain to drain the fluid into her bladder.

She returned home and over the next year, she slowly started to gain vision as the shunts worked to drain the pressure from her brain.

Amy said she was told this is highly unusual for a child who was left untreated for such a long time.

Evie began walking at two years old and after learning Makaton, she even started to speak.

Amy said: “The doctors admitted because of a delay in diagnosis, they weren’t sure what would happen. They didn’t know if she’d ever be able to see or walk or talk.

A blind girl has baffled doctors after she regained her sight and ‘cured herself’ of a usually life-long brain condition. (Amy Geurts/Zenger)

“She learnt Makaton and then eventually, she started speaking, so, amazingly, she gained vision, was signing and then speaking.

In April 2019, Evie started getting headaches again and doctors had to drill through her skull to put in a needle.

The pressure was 40 times the expected amount, and it turned out her shunt was blocked, so she was fitted with a new one.

“The scream she let out when they removed the needle,” said Amy.
“I’ll never forget it.”

In January 2021 the headaches returned and they feared the worst.

But bizarrely, medics discovered they had returned because they no longer needed the shunt, which was “splitting” the no longer pressured ventricles.

Amy said: “The doctor couldn’t believe it – he thought we’d be in and out of hospital every few years because the shunts kept blocking, but it turned out that somehow she’d cured herself!

“He said he’d never seen it before and certainly didn’t expect to see it in her.”

Doctors made the decision to remove both of the shunts inside Evie’s brain – an uncommon procedure due to the risk of shunt removal causing a stroke or bleed on the brain.

Thankfully, the surgery was a success, but Evie contracted viral meningitis and had to be hospitalized with antibiotics for four more days.

Incredibly, Evie, now seven, is now living life as a healthy girl with perfect vision.

She is still undergoing eye tests every six months to monitor her progress but doctors have been amazed.

Proud Amy said: “They can’t believe it.

“They had to shave her hair back to access the devices so she refers to herself as Rapunzel.

“In the hairdressers, they told her she’d been brave and she said just like Eugene cuts Rapunzel’s hair to save her in Tangled, the doctors cut my hair off to save me.

“Evie is phenomenal.”

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