December 2016 – Can you worry yourself sick?

From time to time we are all made to think about our health, whether the prompt is an unheralded pain or illness, a routine medical, or perhaps an article in a newspaper or magazine. For some people, though, concern about their health is a constant stress and can become an overwhelming and unstoppable preoccupation creating long term background stress. Read more >


November 2016 – Are you mixing with trouble?

As the festive season approaches and thoughts turn to Christmas parties, it is worth spending a moment to think about what we drink as well as eat at this time of year. We all know that the calories in canapes and festive nibbles can quickly add up, but what about those in the drinks we are knocking back? Read more >


October 2016 – Are fitness bands a fad?

According to the World Health Organisation over 600 million adults were classified as obese in 2014 and there are now more obese people in the world than there are people who are underweight. The toll that obesity takes on a person’s health is vast, with the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and a multitude of cancers becoming greater as weight and BMI increase. Read more >


September 2016 – What becomes of the broken hearted?

From time to time we all hear stories about devoted couples who have spent their whole lives together and then go on to die just a week, day or even an hour apart. In such a situation many people might be inclined to say that the widow or widower in question died from a “broken heart”, but is there really such a thing? Read more >


August 2016 – Driving and the heart

In this day and age driving becomes second nature to most of us from our late teens onwards, and many drivers would struggle to envisage a life without their car. When illness strikes often the furthest thing from a patient’s mind is whether or not they are fit to drive in the eyes of the law, and whether their condition is one which needs to be declared to the DVLA. Failure to inform the DVLA about a number of conditions could result in a £1,000 fine, and driving against medical advice could result in a prison sentence in the event of an accident. So, what are the rules? Read more >


July 2016 – Statins – the good, the bad and the controversy…

In recent times it has felt as though no more than a week has gone by before another dramatic headline about statins has been emblazoned across the front page of a national newspaper, often bearing the polar opposite message to its predecessor. The results of countless huge international trials have proven beyond doubt that statins are extremely effective at reducing the incidence of heart attack, stroke and death, and yet they continue to be vilified by many. So what is the truth behind the headlines? Read more >


June 2016 – To screen or not to screen? That is the question… Part two – Cardiovascular disease

Many people believe that the biggest killer in England and Wales is cancer. This, however, is actually not the case – heart disease is the leading cause of death, responsible for 12.1% of all deaths in 2014. In the last decade screening for various types of cancer has become relatively commonplace, with national population screening programmes in place for breast, bowel and cervical cancer, and there are many private organisations offering full body scanning in a bid to detect the earliest signs of cancer. Since the leading cause of death is actually heart disease rather than cancer, wouldn’t it be reassuring to be able to screen for this in the same way as we do for cancer? Well, the good news is that we can – with a scan called the CT coronary angiogram. Read more >


May 2016 – To screen or not to screen? That is the question… Part one – Young athletes

Ever since professional footballer Fabrice Muamba’s highly publicised cardiac arrest during a football match in March 2012, it has been difficult to avoid stories of sportspeople retiring from their profession on medical grounds, typically due to a newly detected heart condition. It also seems that it is not just professional athletes who are at risk – the success of every marathon seems to be marred by the news of a tragic death somewhere along the gruelling 26 mile course. This year of course was no exception, with the death of a 31 year old ex-Army captain 3 miles from the finish line. It is estimated that between 1 in 917,000 and 1 in 3,000 outwardly fit, young people die from undiagnosed heart conditions, and so one might think that it would make sense to screen anyone wishing to participate in sport to a high level, just to be sure? Read more >


April 2016 – Calories in, calories out

The 2014 Health Survey for England found that 65.3% of men and 58.1% of women were obese, and these figures have certainly risen since that time. The risks to health from obesity are stark, with an obese man two and a half times more likely to develop high blood pressure and five times more likely to develop diabetes than his non-obese counterpart; and an obese woman four times more likely todevelop high blood pressure and thirteen times more likely to develop diabetes than hers. Read more >


March 2016 – Energy drinks – friend or foe?

Energy drinks were first developed by a pharmaceutical company in Japan in 1962 to keep their staff alert and thereby facilitate longer working hours. An Austrian businessman on a trip to Asia in the 1980s realised that there was a gap in the European market for similar products and promptly established the company Red Bull, which remains the market leader to date. Worldwide sales of energy drinks are thought to be in the region of 12 billion US dollars per year, but in recent times questions have been raised about the safety of these beverages, with links having been made to medical conditions as serious as heart attacks and even death in both one-off and regular consumers. Read more >


February 2016 – Caffeinated calories

These days it seems like you cannot walk through a London train station or down a high street without passing at least half a dozen coffee shops. Gone are the days where the choice was “black” or “white” with or without a lump of sugar – now the choice on offer is staggering, and indeed a quick flick on to Starbucks’ website reveals a whopping 9 A4 pages of options covering a range of different sizes, milk types and syrups. Some of the options sound far too tempting to resist, but many are laden with sugar and fat, turning a quick pic-me-up into a calorie-fest equivalent to a small meal. Read more >


January 2016 – A is for antioxidants… or is it?

At this time of year many people try to embark on a period of “clean living” to counteract the excesses of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Juice and smoothie manufacturers often try to capitalise on this, claiming that their products are packed with antioxidants to restore and protect our cells. Whilst it is certainly true that a healthy diet helps to reduce our risk of a whole host of disease including cardiovascular disease and cancer, the extent to which antioxidants are responsible for this has come into question in recent times. Read more >