Boost Health Mission Statement
Empowering people with Hashimoto's through information and data
Our CEO Vedrana is a Hashimoto’s patient. The initial drive to create the app came from Vedrana’s experience as a patient, her passion as a scientist and her wish to empower patients to live better, healthier and with less time spent trying to find ways to manage the disease. This is Vedrana’s story.
Why did I decide to build an app for Hashimoto’s?
The shortest answer would be: because I know the disease. I am a Hashimoto’s patient. I have been living with this condition for years. It has been running in my family for at least three generations and has profoundly affected all of our lives.
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disorder where our immune system is attacking and destroying the body’s own thyroid gland.
As a consequence, our thyroid gland loses its functionality, becomes underactive, and can’t produce the thyroid hormone thyroxin. Thyroid hormones are the key to unlocking fuel storage within the cell. If we lack thyroxin, all of the cells in our body suffer from lack of energy and will fail to complete even the simplest metabolic processes.
As a cell’s machinery starts slowing down, we start feeling increasingly tired. Our hair starts thinning; our nails become softer and brittle; we gain weight, can’t focus, and have headaches. It’s only the tip of the iceberg.
These are some of the “simpler” consequences of having an underactive thyroid. However, having an autoimmune condition means that there is a lot more going on in the body. Most strikingly: our gut, where the majority of immune response is formed, is especially sensitive. There are frequent digestive issues and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) connected with Hashimoto’s.
Hashimoto’s was first described and given its name in 1912.
How far have we come since 1912? In the 1950s, one researcher wrote: “the disease described by Hashimoto’s in these terms nearly 40 years ago has ever since been attended by confusion and controversy.” Today it is not much different from most of the thyroid conditions; it seems that thyroid conditions as whole are mostly not recognized: 60% of people go undiagnosed! Cases of subclinical hypothyroidism (when there is an indication of a faulty thyroid, but not a fully presented disease) are projected to be present in about 10% to 13% of the western population. This is mostly when doctors (but it largely depends on doctors) do not prescribe any treatment, except waiting and observing. The fact is that a large majority of these cases will turn into a full-blown hypothyroidism within ten years. So, what can we do to prevent the full-blown disease? What if we track more diligently, eat better and exercise more? How to be more prepared?
Building tool for Hashimoto’s management
Besides being a patient, I am a health entrepreneur and researcher with a Ph.D. in cancer research and am very much driven by enabling the empowerment of all the patients.
It takes a lot of energy and determination to maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent the flare-ups and the progression of Hashimoto’s. With the increasing number of symptoms, their temporal and anatomic spread, changes in intensities as well as the individual differences, it becomes evident that Hashimoto’s is a complex disease. A disease where us patients can do much to manage it, and to contribute to slowing down the progression with keeping our health in check.
To do so, one needs to know and understand a lot of quite advanced biology, such as immunology, nutrition, genetics and endocrinology; and the connection between them. This year, there were around 500 scientific publications on the topic of Hashimoto’s; this is about 1.5% of all-time publications on this subject, and they cover everything: headaches as precursors of Hashimoto’s (help with the early diagnostics), potential of selenium or vitamin D in lowering the antibody titer (management), likelihood of developing thyroid and other cancers, etc. One big issue is the lack of good and trustable scientific data: in a recent literature review Danish scientists have gone through 3500 research studies published in the past decades, and only 16 studies were deemed trustable enough to reach a conclusion. That is a waste of time and money for the entire society. In 2016 this should not still be happening. We should have tools to enable faster, better and cleaner data collection. We should be able to collect the data from different geographies and different people. This is one of our aims with Boost Thyroid.
Hashimoto’s re-programs our bodies long before we are diagnosed. It starts around the time of or even before our birth. It starts attacking our thyroid, but slowly the other tissues too.
What are the plans for the app?
The app is now ready to use on iPhone. We are continuously developing and have many ideas on how to improve lives of people with Hashimoto’s. We are excited to test by combining patient experience and science with good and trustable data leading to benefit for the users. BOOST THYROID is a small team, coming from different cultures, regions and educational backgrounds with a common goal: make life easier for patients suffering from chronic conditions.
For us, complexity is an attractive component of the problem. Taking on tough and meaningful problems makes us very motivated.
As a scientist and a researcher, I know how to clean data needs to be to use it for any valid research. Combining scientific rigor with the user delight is challenging, but not impossible, to achieve. I have enough knowledge and experience to attempt doing it in a right way.
As a patient, I would like to know when and how to increase my health awareness and become more proactive in managing my thyroid condition.
As a researcher, I have several hypotheses I would love to see tested.
My dream is to build a product that would help people with a diagnosis lead a healthier life through providing them with top notch and up to date information and by converting new research results into tracking options, analytics, and insights.
At the same time, we would like to facilitate the doctor’s workflow. One of our wishes is for doctors to get live updates in the disease prediction charts and for research to have a better, more global, diverse and inclusive reach. I believe that this type of global research will give us at least an indication of how Hashimoto’s works at each and every stage, how to recognize it faster, how to successfully manage it with different treatment modalities and how to know when it starts progressing.
Dr. Vedrana Högqvist Tabor
Amstgericht Berlin Charlottenburg
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