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Feb 1st 2018

More middle-aged people suffering strokes as 32,000 killed in a year

More middle aged people are suffering strokes as 32,000 were killed in a year by a devastating sudden attack.

New data shows 57,000 people had a first time stroke in England and they are striking at a much younger age compared to a decade ago.

Poor diet and lack of exercise are mean more people between the ages of 40 and 69 are being struck down.

Stroke is the third most common cause of premature death and leading cause of disability in the UK.

Public Health England data shows the average age for males having a stroke fell from 71 to 68 years and for females, 75 to 73 years between 2007 and 2016.

It showed 38% of first time strokes happened in middle aged adults during 2016. This is up from 34% in 2007.

Better health checks for the elderly as well as poor lifestyles of unsuspecting middle aged Brits are being blamed for the shift.

Prof Julia Verne, PHE director, said: “Many people think that strokes only affect older people, but that’s not the case.

“We need a better awareness in people aged 40 to 69 of factors that can contribute to stroke such as smoking, being overweight, not getting enough exercise and heavy drinking.

“Stroke is still one of the leading causes of death in England. Everyone needs to be aware of the signs.

“Calling 999 as soon as you see even one of the symptoms develop – in the face, arms and speech – is essential. Speedy treatment will help prevent deaths and disability.”

It is estimated that around 30% of people who have a stroke will go on to experience another stroke.

Tony Rudd, national clinical director for stroke with NHS England, said: “Thanks to improved NHS care, stroke survival is now at record high levels.

“Urgent treatment for strokes is essential so friends and family can play a key part in making sure their loved ones receive care as quickly as possible.

“Every minute counts and knowing when to call 999 if you see any one of the signs of stroke will make a significant difference to someone’s recovery and rehabilitation.”

One in six people will have a stroke in their lifetime. The total number of strokes in England has remained fairly stable at around 85,000 annually.

The majority (59%) of strokes occur in the elderly.

PHE is updating its “Act FAST” (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) acronym campaign which urges the public to call 999 if they notice even one of the signs of a stroke in themselves or others.

It encourages people to think face - check if it has it fallen on one side, arms - check if they can they raise both of them, speech - check if it is slurred, and time - to call 999.

Health minister Steve Brine MP said: “Strokes still claim thousands of lives each year, so the message of this Act FAST campaign remains as relevant as ever.

“The faster you act, the greater the chance of a good recovery. That’s why I’m urging everybody, and we must remember stroke can hit at any age, to familiarise themselves with the signs of a stroke and be ready to act fast.”

Jan 9th 2018

Heart attack: These are the signs you need to know about

With a new study showing women are more likely to die than men after experiencing a heart attack, knowing the signs and treatment could easily mean the difference between life and death.

A heart attack is a medical emergency caused by a clot forming in one of the three coronary arteries that supplies blood to the heart muscle. This prevents blood from flowing to the heart, which can prove very dangerous.

At this stage, it’s vital that blood flow is restored to the heart, which is why you should dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if you suspect you’re having one.

As the NHS puts it: “Don’t worry if you have doubts. Paramedics would rather be called out to find an honest mistake has been made than be too late to save a person’s life.”

Signs of a heart attack

Emily McGrath, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), told HuffPost UK that symptoms of heart attacks can vary from person to person and women are less likely to recognise symptoms. For example they might mistake a heart attack as indigestion, as the symptoms can feel similar.

The most common sign of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort. NHS Choices describes this as “a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the centre of your chest”.

If it feels like indigestion, it can be difficult to determine whether it’s a heart attack or not, which is why it’s important to be aware of other symptoms that may arise such as: 

:: Feeling lightheaded or dizzy

:: Sweating

:: Feeling short of breath

:: Nauseousness or vomiting

:: Coughing or wheezing

:: Feeling very anxious (like having a panic attack)

:: Pain in other parts of the body. Emily from BHF explained further: “Pain can radiate to the arms, neck, jaw and back. You might experience pain down one side of the body or both. It doesn’t necessarily happen on the left side, which some people believe.”

Related: Are you suffering from high blood pressure? (provided by Espresso)

Diagnosis

If you’re suspected to be having a heart attack, you should receive an ECG within 10 minutes of arriving at hospital, according to the NHS.

The test checks the heart’s rhythm and electrical activity, which is essential for swift diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment

Treatment options given to patients will depend on the type of heart attack they’ve had.

For example, if they’ve had ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), which is where the coronary artery is completely blocked by a blood clot, they will need to be treated as soon as possible to minimise damage to the heart. Treatment for STEMI involves a procedure to widen the coronary artery. 

Another treatment option is called coronary angioplasty. This involves inserting a tiny tube known as a balloon catheter into a large artery in the groin or arm. According to the NHS, the catheter is guided to the heart where it is then positioned in the coronary artery and inflated in order to open the artery and free up the blockage.

A stent, which is a flexible metal mesh, is usually inserted into the artery to help keep it open afterwards.

Patients may also be given medication like aspirin or heparin to thin the blood and prevent further blood clots. Some of these medications may be continued for some time afterwards.

Some patients might receive medication to break down the blood clot, known as thrombolytics or fibrinolytics. They may also be offered something called glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitor which can prevent blood clots from getting bigger and stop symptoms from worsening.

Dec 29th 2017

With links to the most common diseases and health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and vascular dementia, high blood pressure has a huge influence on the health of the country.

In fact, around one in three adults in the UK has high blood pressure, half of which are not diagnosed or receiving treatment, according to Blood Pressure UK.

High blood pressure – or hypertension – is also the third biggest risk factor for disease and disability in England after smoking and poor diet. It costs the NHS an estimated £2.1 billion every year.

The depressing facts and figures go on, but what actually is blood pressure and what causes it?

Blood pressure is measured by two numbers: systolic pressure (the higher number) is the force your heart pumps blood around the body, and diastolic pressure (the lower number) is the resistance to your blood flow in the blood vessels.

The ideal blood pressure is considered to fall between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg, according to NHS Choices.

What causes high blood pressure

The subject of constant scientific research, high blood pressure has been linked to all sorts of lifestyle choices over the years, including smoking cannabis, excessive internet use, living under a flight path and eating potatoes.

It’s not always certain what causes high blood pressure but certain aspects of an unhealthy lifestyle can increase your risk, such as:

being overweight or obese

eating too much salt and not eating enough fruit and vegetables

not doing enough exercise

drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated drinks

smoking

not getting much sleep

That lifestyle profile may sound like a considerable portion of the British public, but it’s not too late - making healthy lifestyle choices can reduce your blood pressure or reduce the risk of high levels. 

Other factors that are out of your control also play a part, including being over 65, having a relative with high blood pressure or being of African or Caribbean descent.

Apart from switching to a healthier lifestyle, there is a wide range of medication that can be prescribed to treat it by your doctor.

It’s not all doom and gloom though because a 2012 study found that chocolate can actually lower blood pressure.

The research found that daily consumption of dark or cocoa powder caused a slight reduction in blood pressure readings. Just don’t use this as an excuse to go chocolate mad.

Pregnant women

High blood pressure is also quite common among pregnant women. If pregnant women develop high blood pressure during the pregnancy it can affect the growth of the baby, so it is recommended to get it checked as often as possible.

The same healthy lifestyle advice applies to reducing the risk for pregnant women, but those over the age of 40, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 35, or those who have left a 10-year gap since their last pregnancy are at greater risk.

The higher the blood pressure, the more likely the doctor will opt to induce the birth early or consider a caesarean section. 

Low blood pressure

However, it’s not good to have low blood pressure, either. Even though it can be simply because you are fit and healthy, it can cause you to faint, feel weak, lightheaded or dizzy, and have blurred vision.

If you feel these kind of symptoms when you stand up or suddenly change position then you may have low blood pressure.

Apart from being healthy, low blood pressure could be caused by being pregnant, taking some types of medication and having medical conditions like diabetes.

All adults over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked at least every five years, so don’t hesitate.

Sept 19th 2017

Many of us could be putting ourselves at risk of an early stroke, Blood Pressure UK has warned.

The charity said unhealthy lifestyles, stress and poor diets are causing more young people to be diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension).

High blood pressure put extra strain on your heart and blood vessels. Over time, this increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

The proportion of strokes in people of working age (those aged 25 to 64) has increased despite an overall drop in the number of strokes. That means younger people than before are suffering from the life-threatening condition.

Blood Pressure UK is urging the public, regardless of their age, to check their blood pressure as part of Know Your Numbers! Week.

The Know Your Numbers! campaign is the UK's biggest free blood pressure testing event held at 'Pressure Stations' around the country from 18-24 September 2017. Volunteers hosting the Pressure Stations provide information and advice on simple steps to keep blood pressure under control and will measure your blood pressure accurately.

Being overweight, not exercising and eating too much salt are all key risk factors for developing high blood pressure. Hypertension was responsible for approximately 75,000 deaths in the UK in 2015, warns the charity.

Professor Graham MacGregor, Chairman of Blood Pressure UK said: "High blood pressure kills thousands of people every year in the UK, and is almost entirely preventable. By lowering the population's blood pressure even a small amount, we could save the NHS over £1billion every year."As an individual having your blood pressure checked is the most important step that you can take to reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack or heart failure."

Katharine Jenner, CEO of Blood Pressure UK says: "High blood pressure does not discriminate on age – People are dying unnecessarily because they fail to take such simple steps to reduce their blood pressure. Everyone is at risk and therefore it's essential to know your blood pressure numbers."

Related: Teen High Blood Pressure Can Cause Organ Damage

Aug 21st 2017

Scientists have discovered a new symptom that could be a sign that a heart attack is imminent.

After examining materials that were blocking the coronary arteries of a number of patients, a team of scientists and medical experts at Michigan State University confirmed that it was cholesterol - in the form of crystals.

They found that this particular type of hardened cholesterol was found in over 89 per cent of emergency room cases.

“In previous studies, we showed that when cholesterol goes from a liquid to a solid, or crystal state, it expands in volume like ice and water,” said Dr George Abela, professor of medicine at Michigan State University.

“This expansion inside the wall of the artery can tear it and block blood flow causing a heart attack or stroke.”

By examining patients in more than 240 emergency rooms across the US, once a heart attack patient was admitted the team would suction out the crystals and examine their size and hardness.

They discovered that the large clusters of crystals had managed to break through the plaque and walls of the arteries, even entering the heart itself.

As well causing physical damage by tearing through the arteries, the scientists were also able to confirm that these crystals activated the production of inflammation molecules called Interleukin-1 beta, which can inflame and aggravate arteries.

Now, as well as having a better understanding of a key symptom before a heart attack, this research also reinforces the notion that plenty of exercise and good dietary choices have a proven ability to reduce the formation of these crystals in the first place.

According to the NHS, other symptoms of heart attack can include chest pain which radiates from the best to the jaw, neck, arms and back, shortness of breath, feeling week or lightheaded and an overwhelming feeling of anxiety.

Aug 13th 2017

People who smoke weed are three times more likely to die from high blood pressure than those who do not, new research suggests.

Scientists in the US analysed data from marijuana users against non-users to determine the risk of death from hypertension (high blood pressure).

They found that compared to non-users, marijuana users had a 3.42-times higher risk of death from hypertension.

The researchers also found that the amount of time a person has spent smoking weed makes a difference, with a 1.04-times greater risk for each year of use.

However, Dr Willie Lawrence, an interventional cardiologist and spokesperson for the American Heart Association, has called the research “flawed”.

Lead author Barbara Yankey, a PhD student at Georgia State University, Atlanta, investigated the subject due to ongoing debate about the legalisation of marijuana in the US.

The study concluded that marijuana users had a three times higher risk of dying from hypertension. There was no link between marijuana use and death from heart disease or cerebrovascular disease.

The study is published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Get your blood pressure checked ASAP

Unfortunately hypertension-warning-signs for most of the population, there aren't any warning signs, a few people will get headaches and maybe blurred vision but generally speaking your blood pressure can be too high and you will be completely unaware until you take the wise move of getting your doctor to check it for you.

July 24th 2017

Why not make an appointment with your doctor today.

Your body could be quietly killing itself

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hypertension-warning-signs and your diet

March 21st 2017

Too much salt in our diets is causing up to 14,000 preventable deaths every year according to health campaigners.

And food producers, they say, are not meeting voluntary reduction targets because it would drive down their profits.

It is called the hidden killer, causing strokes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Professor Graham MacGregor, chairman of Consensus on Salt and Health (CASH), said: "The easiest way to make bland, cheap food more palatable is to add salt - and salt is practically free.

"This is a national scandal. The UK was leading the world in salt reduction, but the Government is doing nothing to ensure that the 2017 salt targets are met."

Professor MacGregor is urging the Government to impose strict limits on the amount of salt used in processed foods.

So far only one out of 28 food categories is on track to meet 2017 salt reduction targets. That is bread rolls.

A product survey, which was conducted using the updated FoodSwitch UK app and its SaltSwitch filter, compared two shopping baskets, each containing similar everyday food items, but with different amounts of salt.

The difference in salt content between the unhealthy and healthy baskets of products was 57g of salt.

Findings revealed many products exceed the maximum salt reduction targets.

Galaxy Ultimate Marshmallow Hot Chocolate is saltier than seawater and has 16 times more salt (per 100g) than the maximum target - one serving is saltier than a bag of crisps, the study found.

Katharine Jenner, registered nutritionist and campaign director for CASH, said: "Salt is the forgotten killer.

"The findings from our FoodSwitch shopping basket survey are alarming and we are shocked to see that many food manufacturers and retailers are still failing to meet the salt reduction targets, despite having had years to work towards them.

"We congratulate the other, more responsible manufacturers, that have successfully achieved them, or are on track to meet them by the end of the year - which shows it is possible.

"With only nine months to go, action must be taken now."

The app was able to demonstrate in all 28 categories there were products with at least 30% less salt, which would meet the maximum salt reduction target.

CASH said the shopping basket analysis reaffirms the public health goal of consuming no more than 6g of salt per person per day is achievable, but said manufacturers are dragging their heels.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: "The food industry has reduced the amount of salt found in our foods by 11% in recent years, which is encouraging progress.

"We know there is more to do. This is why we're talking to retailers, manufacturers, and the eating out of home sector on how they go further and faster to reaching the 2017 salt reduction targets."

It is recommended that you cut down on the amount of salt that you have in your diet too much salt is one of the things that gives you high blood pressure, in addition you should eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, aim to eat 5x80 g portions of fruit and vegetables every day, have a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, wholegrain rice pasta and bread these minerals and fibre will keep your body in good condition.

Limit your drinking, staying within the advice levels will definitely reduce the risk of you developing high blood pressure also alcohol contains a lot of calories which inevitably makes you put on weight which will also increase your blood pressure.

Being overweight will definitely increase your blood pressure by making it harder for your heart get your general health checked and check your BMI when you visit a doctor, but if you can't lose a few pounds it will make a big difference to your blood pressure readings and your general health.

Regular exercise will help you lose weight, you will have a job to exercise as much as they recommend but I recommend that you get yourself a Fitbit I find them to be very useful and certainly an encouragement to move yourself and eat well.

If you are unfortunate enough to have developed a smoking habit please do your best to cut down as much as you can and ideally give it up altogether, smoking causes your arteries to narrow which is definitely not a good idea when combined with hypertension, you can get lots of help these days to give up smoking, and if the threat of lung disease doesn't stop you smoking please seek help.

Drinking too much tea and coffee also will not help to control your blood pressure, these drinks together with cola and some energy drinks can be the reason why your blood pressure is elevated.

Now don't be a fool to yourself, you only get one body so it is up to you to make it last as long as possible, make sure that you are not the one that is walking around ignorant of the fact that you have hypertension, (high blood pressure) and it is slowly killing you.

The good thing is the doctor can give you a very simple little pill for you to take once-a-day to bring your blood pressure back to normal.

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