QC Shelf Life – Why is it Important?

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QC Shelf Life – Why is it Important?

An important consideration when choosing your Quality Control material that is often overlooked is the shelf life of the control. With every new lot of control extensive validation studies must be performed. Regulatory bodies such as CLIA require new lot numbers to be evaluated before routine use in the laboratory. For example, CLIA has instructed that any new control lot to be run alongside patient samples will need to be verified alongside the f the old lot of control. The process is designed to give laboratory professionals confidence in the new material and ensure it is fit for purpose before implementing it in the lab.

As part of the validation process laboratories are required to assay both the old and new lots side by side. The current lot is then used to help verify if the new lot will be acceptable to run within the lab. Such validation studies can be very costly for a lab as well as being extremely time consuming – with some studies taking up to a month to complete! By choosing a control with a longer shelf life laboratories can aim to use the same lot of control for a longer time period. Ultimately this means fewer lot changes and minimal inconvenience for the lab. With a shelf life of 2 years for liquid controls and up to 4 years for lyophilised, coupled with unrivalled stability claims, employing Randox Quality Control in your laboratory will ensure that expensive lot changes will be a thing of the past. Our comprehensive control offering is guaranteed to increase efficiency and reduce costs in any laboratory without compromising on quality.

Contact us today to find out more information on our Acusera range of Quality Controls.


Children at increased risk of drug-resistant infections after taking antibiotics

Children who are prescribed antibiotics are 12 times more at risk of acquiring drug-resistant infections in the weeks afterwards, according to a leading public health figure.

Public Health England medical director Paul Cosford told the Science and Technology Committee this week that the risk is greater for younger people than it is for adults.

“We’ve got good evidence that if you or I have a course of antibiotics now, within three months our risk is three times to get a resistant infection of some sort because we’ve had the antibiotics affecting all the organisms in our bodies. If you’re a child you’re 12 times more likely to get a resistant infection in the three months after a course of antibiotics.”

Whilst acknowledging that the drugs do a have part to play, Cosford stressed this had to be done correctly – and compared antibiotics to “using a pesticide in a rich woodland.” At the same time as tackling the harmful infection the drugs will destroy useful bacteria in the gut.

The information was taken from two major reviews on the routine-use of antibiotics in primary care, and he said the results underline the importance of continued efforts to decrease prescription rates.

“There is a growing body of evidence that taking antibiotics makes it more likely that your next infection will be a resistant one, so prudent use of these life-saving medicines is essential.”

One review looked at children who had urinary tract infections and found that they were more than 13 times more likely to have contracted drug-resistant strains if they had been given antibiotics in the previous six months.

The 2014 Longitude Prize survey of antibiotics in primary care revealed that 90% of British GPs felt pressure from patients to give out the drugs, and almost half had done so knowing it would not treat the patient’s condition.

Mark Woolhouse, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Edinburgh University told The Guardian that the consequences of antibiotic resistance required a global plan, just as with climate change. However he added that, “In terms of the threat to my own health, and that of my children, and my family’s health, I am much more concerned about antimicrobial resistance than I am about climate change.”

Randox is supporting the battle against antibiotic resistance. Our wide range of related products includes our Respiratory Multiplex Array which tests 22 common virus and bacteria pathogens can detect whether an antibiotic should be prescribed.

John Lamont, Chief Scientist at Randox Laboratories, whose team developed the molecular test, commented;

“Current diagnostic testing for respiratory infections takes at least 36 hours to confirm the nature of an infection, and they cannot name and categorise infections as bacterial or viral in the way that our respiratory test can. C-reactive protein tests, for example, that are currently in use can only indicate whether a bacterial infection is likely. We need more than just guess work to combat the antibiotic resistance pandemic.”

For more information, please visit http://www.randox.com/respiratory-multiplex-array/ or contact RandoxPR@randoxcom


Randox Diagnostics: Leading the Field in Equine Health

We wouldn’t be the experts in Equine Health we are without our team of highly knowledgeable and experienced veterinary scientists.

Dr. Sarah Gildea, Senior R&D Scientist at Randox Teoranta in Dungloe, Co. Donegal, Ireland, has a BSc Equine Health, a PhD in Equine Influenza Virus, and spent many years working in the Virology Unit of The Irish Equine Centre prior to joining our team.

 

‘Randox Diagnostics: Leading the Field in Equine Health’

by Dr. Sarah Gildea BSc PhD, Senior R&D Scientist at Randox

“With over 30 years’ experience, Randox is a leading specialist in the development of veterinary diagnostic solutions. Our extensive product portfolio includes diagnostic reagents, quality controls, external quality assessment (RIQAS) and the Rx series of clinical chemistry analysers which are specifically designed to monitor the general health and well-being of a diverse range of animal species.

“Long established in the equine market, our clinical chemistry analysers provide the largest and most comprehensive test menu available and are used extensively to monitor the health and nutritional status of horses all around the world. In addition, our clinical chemistry tests can also be used for therapeutic drug monitoring, assessing reproductive fitness and as an indirect method in the diagnosis of certain equine diseases/conditions.

“Equine infectious anaemia (EIA) otherwise known as “swamp fever” is a viral disease affecting horses which can cause intermittent fever, anaemia, emaciation and eventual death.  Although the disease is not always fatal, infected horses can become disease carriers thus posing a significant risk to other equines.  Hence, rapid diagnosis is of fundamental importance.  In a study carried out in Romania where the virus is endemic, a novel link between oxidative stress (measuring Total Antioxidant Status, Superoxide Dismutase and Glutathione Peroxidase) and EIA viral infection was established (Bolfă PF et al., 2012). The assessment of oxidative-antioxidative status in blood has also been investigated for a variety of other equine diseases and a correlation between oxidant-antioxidant imbalance and exercised induced pulmonary haemorrhage (Mills and Higgins, 1997), equine motor neuron disease (Delguste et al., 2007), recurrent airway obstruction (Deaton et al., 2006), joint disease (Dimock et al., 2000), endometritis and colic (Krumrych et al., 2013) has been identified. Such findings highlight the broader use of clinical chemistry tests in studying the pathogenesis and pathomechanisms of equine diseases.

“The increased participation of equine athletes in different sports and disciplines has resulted in a rise in the incidence of joint problems, with osteoarthritis now a common finding among performance horses.  Similar to all athletes, the equine appendicular skeleton is under extreme pressure when participating in any intense physical training or equestrian events. Although some horses may remain clinically unremarkable, such physical exertion can result in various inflammatory disorders with subsequent increased risk of injury. Analysis of total protein in joint synovial fluid using the Randox Rx series of clinical chemistry analysers plays an important role in the study of equine orthopaedics worldwide and in the identification of appropriate therapeutic tools to enhance healing. The measurement of other well established biomarkers e.g. Total Antioxidant Status, Superoxide Dismutase, Serum Amyloid A and Creatine Kinase in monitoring response to exercise, transport, trauma and stress have all been previously reported using Randox technology and the results well documented in the scientific literature.

“In addition, using our clinical chemistry analysers, the measurement of seminal plasma antioxidant activity has been demonstrated as a useful indicator of semen quality and subsequent reproductive capability in performance stallions. In a study carried out by Härtlová et al., (2013) stallions experiencing induced sport workload stress were found to have higher levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) compared to those without workload stress. A correlation between an increased level of these intracellular enzymes in seminal plasma and defects in the spermatozoa membrane has previously been established (Katila, 2001).

“Randox is also actively involved in the development of tests for the detection of performance enhancing substances in horses. Such testing protects the safety and welfare of these animals and ensures that competitions are won primarily on merit. This testing is performed not only using our innovative Biochip Array Technology but also our Rx series of clinically chemistry analysers. During prolonged strenuous exercise, racehorses can experience acidemia. In an effort to enhance racing performance “bicarbonate loading” by trainers was first identified in the early 1990s and since then some racing authorities have identified a limit of total carbon dioxide (TC02) concentration which is permissible in horses prior to competition. A comparative study carried out in Australia which examined the capability of four clinical chemistry analysers (Beckman Synchron EL-ISE®, Beckman Synchron CX®5, Beckman UniCel DxC®600, Randox DaytonaTM) to measure TC02 in equine plasma reported that the Randox Daytona offered a high degree of accuracy and precision when compared to the gold standard. Of important logistical consideration however, this study identified the Randox Daytona as the only instrument sufficiently “portable” to allow TC02 testing to be carried out not only in a laboratory but also “onsite” at a racetrack in a laboratory vehicle (Jarrett et al., 2010).

“So as you can see – for all your equine needs from general health screening, monitoring response to exercise or injury, identifying suitable therapeutics and their appropriate threshold, studying the pathogenesis and pathomechanisms of certain equine diseases and assessing reproductive fitness – the Randox Rx series offers it all.”

For more information about our work in the area of Equine Health, please contact randoxpr@randox.com

 

References

Bolfă, PF., et al. (2012) Oxidant-antioxidant imbalance in horses infected with equine infectious anaemia virus . Vet J 2012, 192: 449-454

Deaton, CM., et al (2006) Comparison of the antioxidant status in tracheal and bronchoalveolar epithelial lining fluids in recurrent airway obstruction. Equine Vet J 2006, 38: 417-422

Delguste, C et al., (2007) Change in blood antioxidant status of horses moved from a stable following diagnosis of equine motor neuron disease . Can Vet J  2007, 48: 1165-1167

Dimock, AN., et al (2000) Evidence supporting an increased presence of reactive oxygen species in the diseased equine joint. Equine Vet J 2000, 32: 439-443

Härtlová, H., et al. (2013) Semen quality, lipid peroxidation, and seminal plasma antioxidant status in horses with different intensities of physical exercise. Acta Vet Brno 2013, 82: 031–035

Jarrett, M (2010): Alternative instrumentation for the analysis of total carbon dioxide (TC02) in equine plasma. Anal Bioanal Chem 2010, 397: 717-722

Katila, T (2001): In vitro evaluation of frozen-thawed stallion semen: A review. Acta Vet Scand 2001, 42: 199-217

Krumrych, W., et al. (2013) Oxidant/antioxidant status assessment of blood in selected equine diseases. Bull Vet Inst Pulawy 2013, 57: 225-230

Mills PC and Higgins AJ (1997) Oxidant injury, nitric oxide and pulmonary vascular function: implications for the exercising horse. Vet J 1997, 153: 125-148


World Antibiotic Awareness Week at Randox

The global crisis of antimicrobial resistance is never far from the headlines. As part of World Amicrobial Awareness Week, we’ve been discussing the dangers and importantly the work being done to combat this growing threat.

There’s a very simple reason why we must all do what we can to tackle AMR. This year it’s thought 700,000 people died from drug resistant illnesses such as bacterial infections, malaria, HIV/Aids or tuberculosis. Experts warn that by 2050, this figure will rise to 10million.

Randox’s aim is to revolutionise global healthcare and we are committed to combating the threat of antibiotic resistance. We have a number of tests on the market that can help the fight against AMR, strengthen consumer confidence and ensure quality and safety for a number of different industries. So to round off this week, we spoke to two of our experts at Randox: Business Development Manager, Dr Mary Jo Kurth, and Molecular Diagnostics Manager, Dr Martin Crockard.

70% GP’s have been reported to prescribe antibiotics when they don’t know whether the infection is caused by the virus or bacteria.

At the frontline of the battle to curb AMR are the GPs but they’re not able to access the latest technology which can help them. Dr Mary Jo Kurth said, “In the current GP setting, diagnostic testing to determine whether a respiratory infection is bacterial or viral is unavailable, and therefore doctors often have to guess – or feel pressurised into prescribing antibiotics because patients demand it. However antibiotics only work to treat bacterial infections and are useless in treating infections that are caused by viruses.

 “The consequences are severe. Medical procedures like organ transplantation and cancer chemotherapy need antibiotics to prevent and treat the bacterial infections that can be caused by the treatment. Without effective antibiotics, even routine operations could become high risk procedures if serious infections can’t be treated. The hard won victories against infectious diseases of the last fifty years will be jeopardized.”

Our Biosciences division have developed a test that can rapidly detect and identify the cause of 22 respiratory infections, in both the upper and lower respiratory tract, and therefore subsequently determine if an antibiotic is required as well as then identify the most effective antibiotic to take. Additionally our Confidante kit – the world’s first over-the-counter home sexual health test – can detect ten of the most common STIs with one patient sample and deliver accurate and reliable results securely and discreetly within one week. This takes the guesswork out of antibiotic prescription and could go a long way in fighting the antibiotic resistance crisis.

Dr Martin Crockard said, “Identifying the specific cause of illnesses provides opportunities to tailor treatment, reducing antibiotic misuse. Not all infections respond to antibiotics, however a multiplex approach which identifies bacterial, viral or fungal pathogens encourages improved clinical decision-making, refining treatment, leading to enhanced patient care.

The molecular group here at Randox are developing a range of multiplex infection detection arrays to identify specific infection agents, allowing more appropriate use of antibiotics to improve patient care and reduce the onset of antibiotic resistance.”

In addition to tackling AMR via medical settings, there is work that can be done to deal with it in our food. Randox Food Diagnostics offer a comprehensive range of diagnostic solutions to allow for the detection and quantification of antibiotic residues within animal and food products. With validation across a range of matrices Randox Food allows producers to ensure their products are free from antibiotic residues.

As consumer awareness develops so does the need for antibiotic screening within agriculture and food production. Guaranteeing an antibiotic-free product strengthens consumer confidence and ensures food integrity on a global scale. Randox Food offers the Evidence Investigator matched with biochip array technology to provide the end user with fast, reliable results to ensure antibiotic free produce.

The UK Government recently commissioned a two year review into the crisis. Led by Lord Jim O’Neill, the final report outlined a new system of ‘market entry rewards’ worth $1.6 billion to the successful developer of a new antibiotic, which meets a prospectively-defined criteria of ‘unmet need’. Developers of alternative therapies aimed at tackling areas where there is unmet need due to rising AMR would also be eligible for these rewards. Such rewards would be paid after a successful product comes to market.

Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies said, “Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat. If we don’t act now, any one of us could go into hospital in 20 years for minor surgery and die because of an ordinary infection that can’t be treated by antibiotics. That’s why governments and organisations across the world, including the World Health Organization and G8, need to take this seriously.

“This is not just about government action. We need to encourage more innovation in the development of antibiotics – over the past two decades there has been a discovery void around antibiotics, meaning diseases have evolved faster than the drugs to treat them.”

AMR will not go away on its own. It requires complex and comprehensive action across many sectors.

If you are interested in finding out more information, please visit randox.com


ISO 22870- Are you meeting expectations?

Quality control has recently become crucial in the Point-of-Care (POC) field due to the introduction of ISO 22870 regulations and increased focus in patient safety. Quality control is critical in reducing turnaround time and saving money.

There is now an international standard specifically for POC testing, ISO 22870. This standard is intended to be used in conjunction with the standard for medical laboratories, ISO 15189. This means that aspects relating to Point-of-Care such as training, competence and documentation should be carefully planned, implemented and governed by a quality management system and there is a requirement for QC and EQA to be performed, where available.

POCT is typically carried out by non-laboratory staff, therefore when selecting the appropriate IQC material for POCT there are a number of key characteristics you must consider;

  • Format of the material – QC material employed should be liquid stable, requiring no preparation, reducing the likelihood of human error and increasing convenience.
  • Value assignment – all values must be accurately assigned. Look out for suppliers who use a large number of independent labs to determine the target value.
  • Third party controls – manufactured independently from any specific instrument or method third party controls are designed to deliver unbiased performance assessment.
  • Storage – for convenience controls should be liquid stable, as these can be easily stored in a fridge at 2oC – 8oC and won’t need to be shipped on dry ice.
  • Stability – a control with a good open vial stability will mean that it can be used for longer with less waste produced, meaning it is more convenient for the medical professional to use.
  • Transportation– the liquid stable controls can be conveniently stored at 2oC – 8oC reducing the need to ship on dry ice
  • Minimal training– easy to use with little training required, therefore suitable for use by non-laboratory personnel

In addition to IQC, External Quality Assessment (EQA) must also be employed to ensure a comprehensive review of test system performance. It is best to select a programme that offers frequent reporting with a large database of users. This will enable rapid error identification and ultimately accurate and reliable patient testing.

Our Acusera liquid ready-to-use controls include:

  1. Blood Gas ControlA liquid stable control provided in easy to open ampoules for added convenience and ease-of-use. Assayed, method specific target values are provided for the most common blood gas instruments.
  2. Liquid Cardiac ControlThis is a highly convenient liquid stable cardiac control offering excellent consistency. Assayed, instrument specific target values are provided for 8 cardiac markers, enabling flexibility and consolidation.
  3. Liquid Urinalysis ControlLiquid control that is compatible for use with both manual and automated methods of dipstick analysis. Available in convenient 12ml vials or 25ml dropper bottles with assayed ranges provided for 13 parameters covering the chemical examination of urine specimens.
  4. Liquid HbA1c ControlThis is another highly convenient liquid ready-to-use control. With an open vial stability of 30 days, keeping waste and costs to a minimum.

Complementary EQA programmes are also available to meet the needs of ISO 22870.


The UK Government is being urged to ban excessive use of antibiotics in farming

To coincide with the start of World Antibiotic Awareness Week the UK Government is being urged to ban excessive use of antibiotics in farming by a group of leading doctors, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Made up of 12 royal medical colleges, the British Medical Association and the Faculty of Public Health, the group say that the UK should “use the opportunity afforded by Brexit to lead the world in banning” preventative prescription of medicines on animals.

A decision made by the European Parliament earlier this year to ban mass agricultural medication has not yet been ratified by member states or the European Commission.

A Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ spokesman told the newspaper that dealing with AMR is a “top priority” though the paper notes it ‘stopped short of promising a ban.’

In 2015 McDonalds set itself a two year deadline to stop its US restaurants buying chicken raised with human antibiotics. It led to one of the US’s leading meat producers – Tyson Foods – promising to end the practice by September 2017 – which is, as The Guardian stated, “one of the most aggressive timelines yet set by an American poultry company.” The company’s CEO Donnie Smith told the newspaper: “We have found as we have reduced the level of antibiotics we use, whether it’s human use or vet-only, our cost has actually gone down. A lot of the ways we’ve been able to accomplish this is by working with our farmers on better husbandry practices. If this millennial mum wants a no-antibiotic ever..nugget we better supply that.”

Farmers Weekly reported this month on a Danish Crown initiative launched in 2015 whereby pig farmers attach an antibiotics-free tag to piglets at the neonatal stage. It’s removed at any point if antibiotic treatment is deemed necessary. It claims that although early farm trials suggest a production fall of up to 2.5 piglet per sow per year, the “premium covers additional costs if 35% or more piglets carry the tag to the slaughterhouse.”

Pig farmer Stine Mikkelsen carried out a major review of hygiene and health on her farm to reduce antimicrobial use to boost revenue by £11.25 per pig. She says that although production is down and labour costs did increase, it “feels good” to farm in this way. She told the newspaper, “I am very motivated to do something about it – it’s a hard route to take but I have a good feeling about this system.”

Randox Food Diagnostics is working with global leaders in the food industry to tackle antibiotic resistance and safeguard their use for both human and veterinary treatment.

Using a dedicated research and development team, Randox have the ability to respond rapidly to emerging new drugs of abuse and regulations in relation to food and animal safety, with sixty-five new residue drug targets are currently in development to keep up with the ever changing market of food safety. Randox Food Diagnostics are ensuring that all residue screening laboratories requirements are met by providing reliable food safety screening on a global scale.

On top of the food safety product range Randox Food also offer a range of analysers, reagents and test kits for use throughout the winemaking process to ensure quality is maintained in every bottle.

This product range includes the RX Altona semi-automated wine analyser and the RX Monaco fully automated wine analyser.

For more information on what we do, please visit: www.randoxfood.com

 

 


Dementia is now “our greatest medical challenge”

It has been announced today by the Office of National Statistics that dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK. Last year alone more than 61,000 people died of dementia and this figure is set to rise along with the ageing population. Currently, there are over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK- 40,000 of which are under the age of 65. This number is expected to reach over 1 million by 2025.

The majority of the dementia deaths were among women – 41,283 deaths in 2015 compared to 20,403 dementia deaths in men. For men it seems the leading cause of death is related to heart disease.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said, “These figures once again call attention to the uncomfortable reality that currently no-one survives a diagnosis of dementia.

Dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing, it’s caused by diseases that can be fought through research, and we must bring all our efforts to bear on what is now our greatest medical challenge.”

Dementia describes the different brain disorders that trigger a loss of brain function. These conditions are all usually progressive and eventually severe. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting 62% of those diagnosed. Other types of dementia include; vascular dementia affecting 17% of those diagnosed and mixed dementia affecting 10%.

The most common symptoms of dementia include memory loss, confusion and problems with speech. However it is important to spot the early warning signs. These include finding it hard to follow conversations or programs on TV, forgetting names of friends or everyday objects and feeling confused even in a familiar environment.

Here at Randox we recognise the importance diagnosing dementia early and we worked with the Medical University of Vienna to develop the Randox ApoE4 Biochip Array which can identify the risk of developing Alzheimer’s within three hours. When we presented it earlier this year, it won the prestigious NACB/ AACC Distinguished Abstract Award.

The Biochip analyses Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), a gene which is recognised as one of the most significant genetic risk factors for dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. There are three versions of the ApoE gene: E2, E3 and E4. The E4 version increases a person’s risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, though it may also be associated with an earlier onset of memory loss. Everyone carries two copies of the ApoE gene but 25% of the population carry one copy of the ApoE4.  Inheriting two copies of the E4 variant increases a person’s disease risk by 10 times or more.

The Biochip was developed at our state of the art site in Dungloe, ‘Teoranta’. R&D scientists Emma Harte said, “This type of testing is important in our quest to understand and diagnose Alzheimer’s, and empower patients to understand risks, consider medication and even make early lifestyle changes.

“Pairing this test with medical and family history for risk of Alzheimer’s disease has the real potential to advance personalised medicine.  This fast, accurate testing will allow doctors and patients to make more informed choices earlier to potentially slow the possible progress of Alzheimer’s.”

If you would like to find out more information about our Alzheimer’s test contact us at randoxPR@randox.com


IQCP: Where Are We Now?

What is IQCP?

IQCP stands for Individualized Quality Control Plan, and it is an all-inclusive approach to creating a customized quality control plan for a laboratory.

IQCP focuses on assuring quality in the lab using more in-depth means than simply carrying out a certain number of QC tests at a specific frequency. Many different aspects of laboratory operations will be evaluated, such as the test system, reagents, environment, testing personnel etc.

Where are we now?

As of January 2016, many labs in and outside the USA have implemented their IQCP’s, but what impact has this had on day-to-day operations?

In order to gauge the overall effectiveness and user-experience of implementing IQCP, Westgard QC1 conducted a survey for all IQCP participants both in the USA and globally.

Opinions were mixed regarding the effectiveness of IQCP:

Positive Opinions of IQCP

  • Some users found that IQCP decreased the number of QC materials required
  • There is a greater emphasis on the pre and post-analytic phases of testing, thus improving process error identification
  • Over half of global survey participants revealed that their IQCP identified unacceptable risk(s) in their test system, thereby creating a more robust process
  • Of the labs whose IQCP’s were inspected in the USA, 96.3% were deemed adequate by the relevant regulatory bodyies
  • Identification of errors can lead to additional personnel training, thereby increasing the knowledge and expertise of laboratory staff

Negative Opinions of IQCP

  • Due to the length of time taken to create a single IQCP, coupled with the additional expense, several survey participants found that the benefits of IQCP did not justify using so many resources in its implementation
  • Many labs raised concerns regarding the availability of guidance in developing an IQCP. Participants complained that useful guidelines were not provided quickly enough, and labs had to rush their IQCP implementation.
  • Several survey participants felt as though there was widespread confusion over IQCP. Participants highlighted that the volume of questions from laboratory professionals proves that IQCP was not introduced by regulatory bodies in an organized or effective manner
  • Some labs surveyed voiced the opinion that IQCP evaluation needs to be more standardized, and that inspections can either be too lenient or too stringent.

ISO 15189:2012 requirements

As with any new system, feedback is important for further refinement. IQCP appears to be a step in the right direction for the advancement of laboratory QC. According to Westgard’s survey1, only around 30% of US respondents were satisfied, showing that labs still feel improvements need to be made. Inspectoral standardization, or more concise, straightforward guidelines on IQCP implementation could be potential improvements for regulatory bodies to consider.

We would love to know your thoughts on the subject. Send us an email at acusera@randox.com.

References:
  1. Westgard QC. (2016).2016 IQCP Users Survey. Available: https://www.westgard.com/iqcp-user-survey-comments.htm. Last accessed 25-Oct-16.

Dealing with not being a dad yet – is IVF always the answer to infertility?

“Little things would set me off. I’d walk into work and a colleague’s car had a baby seat in the back. I’d question myself as a man. I question my masculinity.”

A new survey has been carried out by Infertility Network UK and Middlesex University London looking at the impact upon men of fertility problems. One in six couples in Northern Ireland experience difficulties conceiving a baby.

Two men spoke to the BBC about their own experiences.

Aaron, 42, said he and his wife have been trying to have a baby for eight years. “When people ask why we don’t have kids, it’s like are people that idiotic, that insensitive?” 40 year old James said he and his wife have been struggling to conceive for five years. “The silence is stifling. It’s like someone needs to say something.”

Fertility problems are as common in men as women. Male or female – your body’s fertility is a complex department that relies on total health and wellbeing. With Randox Health, you can find out exactly how your body is performing before trying for a baby.

Common causes of infertility for men

  • low sperm count
  • problems with the tubes carrying sperm
  • problems getting an erection or ejaculating
  • diabetes
  • being overweight

Is IVF the only option?

Not according to one of the founding fathers of in-vitro fertilisation – Dr Robert Winston. In his book, The Essential Fertility Guide, he outlines fertility treatment options and suggests more than half of people referred to IVF clinics may be treated by alternatives. “There are numerous causes of infertility and the best treatment may be different in each circumstance. Unfortunately, the massive publicity given to IVF has led to most people believing that it is almost the only treatment and the most successful. This is utterly wrong. Couples rush into IVF far too frequently.”

He believes this happens when not enough time is spent investigating the underlying cause of infertility. “IVF is not the only treatment for infertility, and it’s often not the best treatment or the most successful. There are many treatments depending on the cause, and the cause should be established first.”

What you can do

If you’re thinking about trying for a baby, you might want to find out more about your current fertility levels and also whether or not there are any risk factors to consider in the future.

Randox has created one of the world’s most advanced reproductive health checks. Our personalised service involves physical and biological assessments, with 110 tests carried out in total, including DNA-based protein testing.

Dr Peter FitzGerald, founder and CEO of Randox said, “One in every six couples in Northern Ireland will experience difficulty conceiving. Through our research, we know it won’t always be down to a problem with the sperm, eggs and reproductive organs, but could also be a consequence of issues in other parts of the body such as hormone imbalance, obesity or stress.

“We use the very latest in diagnostic innovation to assess your whole body health, which gives clarity on how well you are now and crucially assesses your future health, which can help to boost your fertility levels.

“For many couples, we know that very sophisticated treatment, such as IVF is not always needed. Sometimes a deceptively simple change in lifestyle or diet will deliver positive results.”


Prepare for a stroke or take action to prevent one?

“If you experience any neurological symptom that comes on suddenly and is unfamiliar (eg not like your normal migraine) then you should seek urgent medical advice. And take an Aspirin (unless you’re allergic to it).” That’s the advice today from Dr Mark Porter, writing in The Times about what to do in the event you think you’re suffering a stroke.

It’s good advice to keep a packet in your medicine cabinet, but did you know that it’s thought 91% of strokes are avoidable?

What is a stroke?

For the brain to function properly, it needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by the blood. Stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or, more commonly, when a blockage develops which leaves the supply of the blood to the brain limited or completely obstructed and without treatment, cells in the brain quickly begin to die.

There are 3 different types of stroke:

  1. Ischaemic Stroke
  2. Haemorrhagic Stroke
  3. Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)

Avoidable risk factors

Research was carried out by McMaster University Canada – it compared the lifestyles of people who had a stroke with those who had not, involving nearly 27,000 participants from 32 countries. It found that 9 out of 10 strokes worldwide could be caused by risk factors – many of which can be avoided:

  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Exercising
  • Eating healthily
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Preventing diabetes
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Cutting down on alcohol
  • Stopping smoking
  • Lowering stress
  • Taking preventive medication for any heart arrhythmia

The most important modifiable risk is high blood pressure, increasing the risk by 47.9%, which is why it’s the key target across the world for reducing strokes.

Randox Health can help

Randox Health clinics offer you personalised preventive health programmes that provide a full profile of your entire body’s health, including diabetes health, lung health, liver health, heart health and many more areas. Upon receiving your results, you are given a programme to follow to help improve any areas of your health which are not ‘in the green’ on our scale. This helps you to prevent future illnesses and any unwanted surprises such as a stroke. We’ve helped over 3000 people in our clinics to date – book your test today.


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