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Heart Checks While You Shop: NHS Announces Plan To Have Pharmacies Check Shoppers’ Heart Health In Bid To Cut Deaths

Shoppers will be offered on-the-spot NHS heart checks to detect signs of killer conditions.

High street pharmacies will be overhauled under the national plan to prevent up to 150,000 heart attacks and strokes within a decade.

The country’s most senior doctor said the new approach would be a “game changer,” helping to identify risks far earlier, with advice on lifestyle overhauls as well as targeted medication.

Pilot schemes have seen some types of strokes fall by a quarter.

From October, chemists will begin rolling out the “rapid detection service,” which includes mobile electrocardiograms to spot irregular heartbeats, as well as checks on blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

If successful, the scheme will be rolled out to every pharmacist in the country within three years.

An NHS sign is pictured at St Thomas’ Hospital  Credit: AFP

The plans aim to identify those at risk far earlier, when treatment and lifestyle changes are most likely to be effective.

Pharmacists will be expected to dole out advice on exercise and diet, with results passed directly to GP practices, who can prescribe the right medication.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England medical director, said: “Heart disease and strokes dramatically cut short lives, and leave thousands of people disabled every year, so rapid detection of killer conditions through high street heart checks will be a game-changer.”

The plans, launched to coincide with the world’s biggest heart conference, follow proposals to scrap “one size fits all” health MOTs at GP surgeries.  In future, GPs will be expected to increasingly target checks on those thought to be at greatest risk, due to their medical and genetic history, while routine screening tests are offered by pharmacists.

Heart disease is Britain’s biggest killer, with deaths from heart attacks, strokes and circulatory diseases accounting for 160,000 deaths in the UK every year.

More than 7 million people are living with heart and circulatory diseases.

Speaking at the European Society for Cardiology (ESC) conference, in Paris, Professor Bryan Williams, author of its guidelines on disease prevention, said: “This is hugely important. Heart disease and stroke remain the most important cause of premature death and disability and we have the means to prevent the many of them.

“The key is early detection of those at risk and doing this is a way that is convenient for the public, not having to wait for a GP appointment that could be done simply the local pharmacy.”

Chemists will begin rolling out the “rapid detection service,” which includes mobile electrocardiograms to spot irregular heartbeats, as well as checks on blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA

Yesterday Dexter Canoy, clinical epidemiologist from the University of Oxford, presented research showing that raised blood pressure at the age of 40 is a clear indicator of the risk of suffering heart attacks and strokes in later life.

He said: “We need to find ways to target the people who aren’t seeing their GP regularly – the middle-aged men who think they are healthy, but haven’t actually been checked.”

“If opening it up to pharmacies and shopping malls means that people are more likely to have their blood pressure checked, that could make a significant difference,” he said, calling for proper evaluation of the measures.

The checks are part of a new £13 billion five year contract for community pharmacists which aims to expand their roles and offer earlier detection of diseases.

More than 100 pharmacies in Cheshire and Merseyside have begun offering blood pressures screening services, under a local initiative, backed by the British Heart Foundation, with plans to recruit more than 200 more chemists to the service as it expands.

Medics said widespread use of the monitors by pharmacies, hospitals and individual patients could cut costs, speed diagnosis and avoid preventable hospital admissions.

Pilot schemes in Lambeth and Southwark in south London identified more than 1,400 patients suffering from atrial fibrillation – an irregular heart rhythm –  who should have been taking blood thinning drugs, but were not. In total, 1,300 of the patients have now been put on the medication, leading to a 25 per cent reduction in the rate of strokes linked to their heart condition.

Keith Ridge, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer, said: “This new contract makes the most of the clinical skills of local pharmacists and establishes pharmacies across England as local health hubs – open in the evenings and at weekends – where people can go for an ever-increasing range of clinical health checks and treatment.”

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Millions of people in England are living with conditions such as high blood pressure which, if left untreated, significantly increase the risk of having a potentially deadly heart attack or stroke. Reaching more people and encouraging them to check their blood pressure, working with them to lower it where necessary, will play an absolutely critical role in saving lives in the coming years.”

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Source: Heart checks while you shop: NHS announces plan to have pharmacies check shoppers’ heart health in bid to cut deaths

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“Wakefulness” Part of the Brain Attacked First in Alzheimer’s, Study Says

Lea Grinberg, a neuropathologist and associate professor at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center in San Francisco’s Mission Bay, holds slides of brain tissue used for research on August 15, 2019. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)

People who donate their bodies to science might never have dreamed what information lies deep within their brains.

Even when that information has to do with sleep.

Scientists used to believe that people who napped a lot were at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. But Lea Grinberg with the UCSF Memory and Aging Center started to wonder if “risk” was too light a term — what if, instead, napping indicated an early stage of Alzheimer’s?

About a decade ago, Grinberg — a neuropathologist and associate professor — was working with her team to map a protein called tau in donated brains. Some of their data, published last week, revealed drastic differences between healthy brains and those from Alzheimer’s patients in the parts of the brain responsible for wakefulness.

Lea Grinberg uses a program that takes a microscope’s magnification of brain tissue on a slide and projects it on a computer screen on August 15, 2019. The different colors represent different biological features in the brain tissue sample, including neurons and tau protein. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)

Wakefulness centers in the brain showed the buildup of tau — a protein that clogs neurons, Grinberg says, and lets debris accumulate. Gradually, these clogged neurons die. Some areas of the diseased brains had lost as much as 75% of their neurons. That may have led to the excessive napping scientists had observed before. Although the team only studied brains from 13 Alzheimer’s patients and 7 healthy individuals, Grinberg says that the degeneration caused by Alzheimer’s was so profound they were sure of its significance.

“We are kind of changing our understanding of what Alzheimer’s disease is,” she says. “It’s not only a memory problem, but it’s a problem in the brain that causes many other symptoms.”

Although these symptoms aren’t as severe as complete loss of memory or motor functions, Grinberg says they can still hold real consequences for a person’s quality of life. “Because if you don’t sleep well every day and if you… are not in the mood to do things like you were before, it’s very disappointing, right? My grandparents were like this.”

Grinberg says it’s important to know whether napping could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s, for treating symptoms and developing drugs that could slow the progression of the disease. Although there are no prescription drugs available to treat tau buildup, she says, a few are in clinical trials.

Lea Grinberg holds boxes filled with samples of brain tissue for study on August 15, 2019. (Lindsey Moore/KQED)

A public health professor and neuroscientist at UC Berkeley says the new information offers hope to researchers. William Jagust, who has studied Alzheimer’s for over 30 years, says the results could help select patients for clinical trials of new drugs that require early treatment. “It’s also just very important for understanding the evolution of Alzheimer’s disease with the hope that we eventually will have a drug,” he adds.

It’ll be awhile before doctors can diagnose anyone with Alzheimer’s based on how often they doze off. “There’s no practical application of this to clinical medicine as of today,” Jagust says, “but I think it’s on the cutting edge of the very, very important questions.”

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Source: “Wakefulness” Part of the Brain Attacked First in Alzheimer’s, Study Says

What is Alzheimer’s disease? Alzeimer’s (Alzheimer) disease is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to symptoms of dementia. Progression of Alzheimer’s disease is thought to involve an accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain. Find more videos at http://osms.it/more. Study better with Osmosis Prime. Retain more of what you’re learning, gain a deeper understanding of key concepts, and feel more prepared for your courses and exams. Sign up for a free trial at http://osms.it/more. Subscribe to our Youtube channel at http://osms.it/subscribe. Get early access to our upcoming video releases, practice questions, giveaways and more when you follow us on social: Facebook: http://osms.it/facebook Twitter: http://osms.it/twitter Instagram: http://osms.it/instagram Osmosis’s Vision: Empowering the world’s caregivers with the best learning experience possible.

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