Longevity using 21st century health biomarker screening, the LP-PLA2 blood test may becoming available near you!

I know this is a random healthcare post and you may be thinking, how are these biomarkers related to Family in Africa? Hell, some readers may be thinking, “what is a biomarker”. They are related in two ways. One, I’m a medical doctor and I practice preventative medicine that promotes healthy living and two with longevity in mind together with healthy bodies reminds up of the importance of staying disease free far into the future, to enjoy many more overland, holiday adventures and those priceless times with family and friends on this planet earth.

It’s of my personal medical opinion that 21st century healthcare should be played within a preventative environment i.e. early screening /detection and early treatment which becomes paramount in securing better survival outcomes! You remember the time old tested statement, “Prevention is better than cure” is the key and in my opinion, so true. I’m particularly astounded by how many people know so little about the benefit of early healthcare screening, particularly relating to lipoprotein phospholipase A2 (LP-PLA2).

Biomarkers can help make this possible through specific health screen tests that we can subject ourselves to in order to detect early signs of pathology. Today there are new biomarkers coming onto the market which are even more specific for disease and can detect it early before it can become established and impact on our lives physically. My concern is that so many non medical people know very little about them and how they can hold key longevity secrets for regular users. Biomarkers allow us to detect disease early and apply the appropriate early treatment so that disease processes in many cases can be irradiated or well controlled.

So I think there is a direct link is between biomarkers and longevity. Approximatelly 25% of all deaths across the USA is caused by Cardiac Artery Disease (CAD) and there could be a good argument to say that this can be reflected across all Western societies which follow similar dietary and stress lifestyles to the USA. In fact CAD is the biggest killer through out health sectors even more so than cancer put together. So surely we individuals especially those responsible for the livelihood of families should be undertaking methods to mitigate CAD and should undertake the appropriate biomarker tests to promote healthier living.

Now it’s here that I would like to introduce a newish biomarker blood test called lipoprotein phospholipase (LP-PLA2) which may sound foreign to you, but to those who know what this enzyme does; it may hold some really favourable early health detection properties to promote longevity and pave better strategies for dealing with CAD. LP-PLA2 also holds great possibilities in people who are taking drugs against CAD in order to see how effective these drugs are with the CAD disease process.

It’s also really important to remember that traditional markers of cardiovascular risk such as cholesterol levels tells us physicians very little about acute risk of stroke or heart attack. Standard cholesterol are very meaningless, in fact some studies have showed that up to 50-70% acute heart attacks have shown normal cholesterol levels on admission to the hospital; quiet a startling statistic!

Although LDL and other lipids are not consistent predictors of stroke risk, elevated Lp-PLA2 approximately doubles stroke risk. 

LP-PLA2 is an enzyme specifically found in inflammatory plaque which are found within pathological sites within atherosclerotic process within peoples vasculature i.e. those people suffering from CAD.  Now it’s when these plaque lesions rupture they tend to create a clot that forms on the ruptured vessel bed and with continued clot forming usually results in a partial or total vessel occlusion which results in a heart attack or stroke. These acute events can cause minor or significant damage or even death and those who do survive may suffer continuos consequences there of and may need much time for rehabilitation. The pathology resulting in inflammation can be changes in the actual vessel wall structure i.e. aneurisms (ballooning), fault heart valves and heart size changes.

This all costs money, time and mental motivation. My point is, wouldn’t it be better to detect these lesions and pathological processes early though screening tests that pick up CAD activity and allow you and your healthcare professional to pave the way to a better preventative route to help mitigate the destructive acute event that may occur in Western societies largest CAD epidemic!

Early detection can help develop the appropriate prevention strategies that compromise of lifestyle modification (better dietary plans), exercise and or additional pharmacological intervention which may be appropriate in high risk patients. Early prescription of statin cholesterol lowering agents e.g. Lipitor (Atorvastatin) may hold some benefit, but something that you should talk to your healthcare physician about, especially if you have a family CAD history and your LP-LPA2 level is above >235ng/dl. You will need regular monitoring, but up to 95% of patients have no problem taking statins.

If you are bold and can come to terms about the role of primary healthcare screening within the 21st century, you may begin to pave the way to a great longevity strategy that will allow you to spend more time with your family, friends and all the universal things that give you meaning. I love the great outdoors and every extra minute in the 4X4 and within the safari game reserves gives me the focus to look deeper into new pioneering healthcare primary screening possibilities.

Remember early detection is usually associated with better survival outcomes! Don’t hide from it, face it and be onto of it like your annual taxes, I hope.

So please pass this onto friends and family because I think LP-PL2 is going to become a really important CAD preventative test and one to help promote longevity. LP-PLA2 will become more available esp. in emerging economies in the near future, so you can begin familiarising your self with them and their benefits.


Many thanks

Dr Nic schema-de-la-plaque-dathero





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Best Journey’s with family

The best trips in the past I find have been with those people who mean the most to me and those magic moments that were caught when the camera lens shutter slams closed creating photo’s that become cemented in our brains forever!

It’s these moments which naturally get us planning for the next overland adventure; the next one is in 2017!

Three moments that stand out is when I camped with my beautiful lady Nicky outside the Samburu Game Reserve in 2008, when I was driving up with my dad who became the first old man to drive a VESPA 250 from Cape Town to Noord Kapp in Norway. We all sat listening to the sounds of the bush at night in front of a crackling fire, a memory that stays with me and will never leave!

The next was when my dad and I reached Giza and stopped for some pictures, one was with Lodie who passed away recently but the time we three spent together will stay with me as well.

And the last when our small family, Lily and Nicky drove into Rock Hill, the entrance to the Serengeti Reserve and saw the endless expanse with all the cloud shadows that presented like a patterned blanket as far as the eye could see.

To me these are the tiny valuable moments that make LIFE meaningful!



Posted in Amazing drives, Egypt, Europe to Africa Overland 4x4 Driving Passage, Kenya, Tanzania, Toyota Land Cruisers | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Blue Land Cruiser is now registered in South Africa and ready for his new adventure in 2017!

So 2017 seems to be presenting our family team with a unique opportunity to head to Tanzania and then drive south toward South Africa.

It’s taken a year or so to register the Blue Prado, but alas he is ready for another great journey and hopefully finish the anticipated travel book as well.



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The land cruiser is called “Sparkles”

So Lily was given the task of naming the new automobile addition, the old Diesel Turbo Toyota beast and she unanimously decided that old silver should be called, “Sparkles“. So Sparkles it is and the journey begins with, planning the next leg i.e.  “The DRIVE BACK home”!

Car called Sparkles

Car called Sparkles


Posted in Europe to Africa Overland 4x4 Driving Passage, Our journey, Toyota Land Cruisers | Tagged | 4 Comments

Facial cancer originating from the SUN

The most common facial cancers is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) followed by the skin Squamous Cell Carcinoma (sSCC). Referrals for these cancers are increasing every year and hence needs a closer look at. I have to remind you now that prevention is better than cure, so it’s imperative when outside in the SUN to wear the appropriate protective clothing, hats, caps and apply the appropriate sun factor in accordance with sun screen manufacturers.


These primary cancers originate in the epidermis (outer skin layer) and most commonly occur on the SUN exposed sites, mostly head and neck. Specifically the noses, cheeks, ears, scalps, and foreheads. NB NB Remember to apply copious amounts of sun screen to these prone SUN exposure areas. Let’s also not discount the upper limbs that people tend to leave on window ledges while driving or sitting on public transport, they too are prone to SUN exposure injuries. Often the wind chill factor in comparison with the current environment masks the rays burning the SUN exposed areas while we are on the move. In Australia local government are so aware of SUN exposure injuries, communal loud speaker broadcasts occur on public beaches to remind locals and travellers  alike to take the appropriate action against SUN exposure!

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the lower lip

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the lower lip

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the hand

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the hand

It’s important to know that facial cancers are locally infiltrating which means they begin spending on the skin surface, but have the potential to disseminate to the regional lymph node system if left unchecked and left to spread without medical treatment.

Who is at risk:

  • Chronic inflammatory diseases e.g. prev. burns, scars, ulcers, skin disorders, Xeroderma
  • Taking medical drug treatments e.g. voriconazole, doxycycline and some go the immune suppression drugs. Please check your personal meds which your taking with your doctor
  • Immunosuppressed people
  • People receiving ultraviolet radiation

sSCC usually occur on older people >60yrs with the highest reported incidence being in Australia. Age cannot be discounted as skin injuries are likely to be associated with the duration and intensity of sun exposure over time, so young people are at risk if they fail to protect themselves early on in life.  It’s also important to note that sun beds also facilitate these types of sun injuries that can go on to develop into cancer lesions. sSCC lesions tend to begin as a non-healing plaque, pimple or ulcer in contrast to the rolled pearl looking BCC lesion. The sSCC lesions may also be painful, tender, bleed easily and spread rapidly. Please seek urgent help if you suspect this. Diagnosis is usually obtained through a skin biopsy.

Treatment is usually associated with complete removal of the skin lesion. This will however be discussed with a dermatologist plus or minus a plastic surgeon depending on the complexity and location of the facial tumour. It’s important to note the Mohs microsurgery together with fresh frozen tissue sections to evaluate the lesions boundaries is associate with high curative rates. Curative rates are high, but this all depends on cancer skin depth, degree of spread extension, type go cancer and whether it’s disseminated to the region lymph node system.

The onus is on all of us the take proper precaution again the SUN specifically to the areas of maximum sun exposure as it’s these areas which are prone to skin cell mutations into the cancer lesions the know of today.

Dr Nic




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Travellers Diarrhoea while over landing

The most common cause of travellers diarrhoea is the notorious bacterium called Escherichia coli, abbreviated as E Coli! A small portion of infections are viral, caused by nor, rota or other similar viruses. We’ve all had it and is very common on travels, actually as much as 20-60% of travellers visiting low to middle income areas develop diarrhoea. We define this condition as 3 or more diarrhoea episodes per day.

It’s important to note that the condition in most cases is self limiting, but in rare cases can case dehydration or even sepsis and in very rare cases auto immune syndromes. We term an infection as chronic if the episode lasts more than two weeks! This type of infection may be caused by infection caused by protozoa organisms e.g. Guardia lamblia, which can be quiet persistent. With persistent condition seek immediate medical help as you may need further investigation i.e. stool sample analysis and other test to isolate the source infection and a specific treatment method to follow. Bloody diarrhoea is often associated with infections caused by Campylobacter jejune or Shigella.

Antibiotics would most probably be recommended in patients of susceptibility i.e. immune suppressed or vulnerable to sepsis. In general antibiotics may decrease the diarrhoea episodes duration from 3 days to 1.5 days.

The best advice is to avoid contamination! Stay away from:

  • Uncooked meat.
  • Ice.
  • Buffets.
  • Salads.
  • Shelled fish.
  • Unrefrigerated foods.
  • Avoid antibiotic chemoprophylaxis

Prevention is NB NB and do the following:

  • Maintain a good level of hygiene, basic hygiene is really important esp. if you are travelling with kids. You need to watch everything that goes into their mouths.
  • Boil water for consumption.
  • Use straws to drink out bottles.
  • Eat fruit and vegetables that you can peel open.
  • Boil water >100 degrees Celsius, cook food appropriately.

    Diarrhoea and vomiting

    Diarrhoea and vomiting

  • Drink bottled water where available, but you cannot beat your own filtered or boiled water.
  • Purification is essential. We used Lifesaver for our family on trip and our baby has to date never been ill.

Something interesting to note, if you take chemoprophylaxis for Malaria i.e. doxycycline, a study has shown that you may decrease travellers diarrhoea caused by E Coli & Campylobacter! But remember, there’s Malaria resistance reported in areas against doxycycline.

New vaccines are in development, perhaps one day they may prove to be effective.

The most important form of treatment for all travellers diarrhoea is ORAL HYDRATION! This is particularly important with kids, get them drinking early on as they are very susceptible to dehydration, so always remember this great rehydration mixture while on the move, esp. if you do not have the appropriate rehydrate with you. See a recognised rehydrate mixture below.

  • 6 level teaspoons of sugar
  • half a level teaspoon salt
  • 1 litre of clean water (mix the water + sugar + salt together then take orally)

Using agents like loperamide may offer quick cessation, but be care full with symptoms of blood in the stool and abdominal cramps as it’s been known to cause bowel perforation. Seek medical advice when appropriate.

Best antibiotics, quinolones like ciprofloxacin, azithromycin (may be good in the far East and where resistance occurs) which may be able to decrease the duration of the illness. Probably best to use if you are in real remote areas and probably better to use short courses only (up to three days perhaps).

Beware of worsening symptoms i.e. Colitis. Local tenderness and severe symptoms. Further emergency examinations may be needed. Remember, a bowel perforation in a remote areas will most certainly kill you if you fail to get the appropriate medical treatment urgently. Sepsis follows quickly leading to multi organ failure and death quickly. Treat a very painful abdomen with the most seriousness!

Again – Prevention, prevention, hygiene!!!!!


dr nic

Posted in Accommodation, Children, Egypt, Europe, Europe to Africa Overland 4x4 Driving Passage, Our journey | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling hip and rehabilitation

Our trip family in africa was not just about quality family time and adventure from North Europe to  South Africa, but it was also about time to rehabilitate following surgery.

The trip allowed time to heal, time to do exercise and develop confidence outside the stress and confinements of daily living while we travelled overland; and it’s all told by Nicky who happens to be a qualified physiotherapist practitioner who is very experienced in physio especially involving the hips. In fact, there are not may people within the medical sector more qualified than Nicky to make suggestions and comment on experience than her, so please make use of this invaluable information source on the Nicky Turner blog.

You the reader will be able to find out more about lower limb mobility, arthritic hip signs and symptoms and obtain orthopaedic advice regarding surgery and what would be the best core exercises to do post operative in order to promote good rehabilitating and better ways to improve joint range. If you have any family or friends who is experiencing problems by all means have them take a peek at this International information source that is helping people deal with their immobility on a daily basis. See Nicky’s extensive Blog site at https://nickyturner.wordpress.com

post Hip

post Hip

So take all the time off you need in order to recuperate and rehabilitate so that you can regain the same style of living that you had before your medical intervention.


dr nic

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