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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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Here’s How Much Caffeine May Trigger a Migraine, According to a New Study

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Caffeine can be both a treatment and a trigger for migraine headaches, which makes it difficult for sufferers to know how much to sip. Experts believe caffeine helps block adenosine, a molecule involved in migraine attacks, from binding to receptors in the brain, so many people use it as an at-home remedy; it’s also an ingredient in many over-the-counter migraine drugs. But, counter intuitively, some migraine sufferers also say consuming caffeine can bring on their debilitating headaches.

“The complex thing with caffeine is sometimes it’s harmful and sometime it’s beneficial,” says Elizabeth Mostofsky, a cardiovascular epidemiology researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “It really amounts to the dose and the frequency of having it.”

Mostofsky is a co-author on a new study published in the American Journal of Medicine that helps define that risk-benefit balance. The findings suggest that having three servings of caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea and soda in a day seems to be the tipping point at which caffeine becomes a possible migraine trigger. (A serving is typically defined as eight ounces of coffee, six ounces of tea, 12 ounces of soda or two ounces of an energy drink. While caffeine content can vary from drink to drink, the study did not distinguish between types of caffeinated beverages.)

For the study, researchers asked 98 adults who suffered two to 15 migraines per month to log their caffeine consumption twice a day for six weeks, along with information about other possible migraine triggers including exercise, alcohol consumption, mood, sleep, menstrual status and weather changes. They also provided information about the symptoms of migraines they suffered during the study period, and how they treated them. Participants also provided their demographic and medical histories. Most of them, like most U.S. migraine sufferers, were female.

After adjusting for other potential triggers, the researchers noticed an inflection point around three servings of caffeine per day. One or two caffeinated beverages per day wasn’t statistically associated with a higher chance of migraine, but downing three or more was linked to a higher risk of headaches both on that day and the one following, the researchers found.

The fact that the correlation applied to the day after high-caffeine consumption is especially telling: Many migraine sufferers use caffeine as a treatment for existing headaches, but the fact that people were more likely to have headaches the day after heavy caffeine consumption suggests that the drinks were causing, not treating, migraines, Mostofsky says.

Mostofsky notes that an individual’s tolerance to caffeine, which can build over time, likely matters too. For example, in this study, people who said they typically had less than one serving of caffeine per day saw a higher risk of migraine on days that they drank even one or two caffeinated beverages. The reverse may be true, too. Plenty of evidence shows that people who are heavy caffeine users can experience headaches, migraine or otherwise, if they miss their daily dose.

The study did not look at which types of caffeinated beverages were most strongly associated with headaches. And since the study was observational, meaning it looked only at patterns reflected in the data, Mostofsky says she can’t prescribe the perfect amount of caffeine. Nonetheless, she says migraine sufferers should keep these findings in mind the next time they’re at the coffee-shop counter.

By Jamie Ducharme

Source: https://time.com

Blood Type: Microbiome and Diet — CFS Remission

One of my favorite sources for information on the microbiome is run by Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo. For many years he has advocated eating for your blood type. In this week’s issue of New Scientist. an article “Your gut bacteria may match your blood group – but we don’t know why“ The difference between many […]

via Blood Type: Microbiome and Diet — CFS Remission

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