Sep 132015

The following article was published in the Huffington Post, on a US study of blood pressure. Thanks to PHSG member Clive Morris for forwarding this information –

Blood pressure

Blood pressure monitoring

A landmark study on blood pressure management set to conclude in 2017 has shown such significant results that the National Institutes of Health is announcing its findings today, reported the New York Times.

The study found that reducing systolic blood pressure down to 120 mm Hg, as opposed to the traditionally recommended 140 mm Hg, resulted in dramatically reduced rates of heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT, the study involved more than 9,300 racially diverse participants aged 50 or over.

Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in the arteries during a heartbeat and is the larger of the two numbers typically used to measure overall blood pressure. The smaller number — diastolic blood pressure — measures pressure in the arteries between heartbeats. Treating high blood pressure requires more focus on systolic blood pressure because it has strong associations with health conditions like the hardening of the arteries, heart disease and vascular disease.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affects one in three Americans and can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure; systolic hypertension is the most common type. In the past, clinical guidelines recommend that a systolic blood pressure of less than 140 mm Hg is a good target for healthy adults, while 130 mm Hg is recommended for those with kidney disease or diabetes.

To see if hitting a target of 120 mm Hg would be more beneficial, SPRINT researchers randomly divided the participants into two groups: a control group who took medication to achieve 140 mm Hg, and an intervention group who took medication to achieve 120 mm Hg.

Over the course of three years, the researchers found that rates of heart attack, heart failure and stroke for the 120 mm Hg group were down by almost a third of the numbers of the control group. Their risk of death was also reduced by almost one quarter.

“Our results provide important evidence that treating blood pressure to a lower goal in older or high-risk patients can be beneficial and yield better health results overall,” said Dr. Lawrence Fine, chief of the clinical applications and prevention branch at NHLBI, in a statement. “But patients should talk to their doctor to determine whether this lower goal is best for their individual care.”

On average, it took two medications for the control group to achieve 140 mm Hg, while it took an average of three medications for the intervention group to achieve 120 mm Hg. Non-medical ways to achieve lower blood pressure include weight loss, exercise, a healthy diet and a diet low in sodium.

“We are delighted to have achieved this important milestone in the study in advance of the expected closure date for the SPRINT trial,” said Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, director of NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, in a statement, “and look forward to quickly communicating the results to help inform patient care and the future development of evidence-based clinical guidelines.”

Source: Blood Pressure Should Be Much Lower, According To Landmark Study

Sep 122015
 A new test that looks for tumour protein in urine could mean many men will no longer need invasive surgery Photo: Alamy

A new test that looks for tumour protein in urine could mean many men will no longer need invasive surgery Photo: Alamy

A cheap test which can gauge the size of prostate cancer tumours has the potential to save thousands of lives each year, scientists believe.

A £10 urine test for prostate cancer, which not only picks up the disease but also reveals the size of tumours so that doctors know whether to operate, could be available within 18 months.

Around 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and more than 10,000 will die, many because the disease is not picked up early enough.

The new test, which works like a pregnancy test, is twice as reliable as current blood test and would allow patients to find out in minutes whether they had cancer based on the levels of EN2 in their urine – a protein which is produced by tumours.

Crucially, the amount of protein in the urine is directly link to the size of a tumour so doctors would no longer need to carry out invasive biopsies or embarrassing rectal examinations.

Prostate cancer grows very slowly it is not always life threatening. But because current tests can only spot if a tumour is present, not how big it is, many men are subjected to needless surgery and radiotherapy which can lead to impotence and incontinence.

Under the new system a tumour under the size of a pea would be left and monitored every three to four years.

The team are hoping that screening will be brought in for men over 55 in the same way that women are routinely screened for breast and cervical cancer. They believe it could save thousands of lives each year,

The test was devised by Professor Richard Morgan, now at the University of Bradford, and Professor Hardev Pandha, of the University of Surrey.

Speaking at the British Science Festival in Bradford, Prof Morgan said: “The thing about prostate cancer is that it is not absolutely necessary to detect it at its earliest stages, when treatment is not needed.

“The problem with the current tests is it cannot distinguish between a small tumour that won’t cause much harm and something more serious. So men have needless treatment.

“With this test we can avoid biopsies and only treat when it is absolutely necessary.

“The EN2 protein is usually silent in normal cells but is present in increasing amounts as tumours grow. So it not only gives a marker for prostate cancer but we can screen for men who are most at risk.”

The current blood test used by doctors to check for prostate cancer measures levels of protein called prostate specific antigen, or PSA, but it is wrong more often than it is right.

In trials of 77,000 men over five years the new test detected about 90 per cent of prostate cancers, making it more than twice as accurate as the PSA test.

The new test is currently being developed by Randox Laboratories and will need to be approved by regulators before it could be used in the NHS.


Sign the campaign petition for making prostate cancer screening mandatory at National Prostate Cancer Screening for the UK

Source: Prostate cancer test which detects tumour size could save thousands of lives – Telegraph

Message from Heart Rhythm Alliance

 Health, News  Comments Off on Message from Heart Rhythm Alliance
Sep 062015

The following message has been received from Julie Fear of the Heart Rhythm Alliance charity.

My name is Julie and I will be overseeing all Heart Rhythm affiliated support groups. You will be aware that information and support groups provide an invaluable service to arrhythmia patients.

I would like to ensure that dates and meeting information is updated regularly on the Heart Rhythm websites and social media to ensure that those interested in attending have the opportunity to register.

Please could you keep me up to date with all new meeting dates, venues and topics covered? I will then ensure that the meetings are added to all websites and social media, and advertised in our monthly e-bulletins.

You may wish to highlight to your attendees that if they have any specific questions or concerns, they can contact Heart Rhythm Patient Services team on: 01789 867501 or by email:

We have an online forum where patients and carers come together to offer support and share their experiences. The forum can be joined by visiting:

We also hold an annual Patients Day where expert consultants talk about arrhythmia’s. This year it will be held on Sunday 4 October at the ICC, Birmingham. I have attached the agenda for your information.

Friends of Arrhythmia Alliance receive a 50% discount off the cost of registration. Other benefits also include tailored information and advice from our Patient Services team and a printed bi-annual newsletter. To become a Friend, the Become a Friend Form attached should be completed and returned.

If you have any further questions regarding support groups please do not hesitate to contact me.

Kind regards


Julie Fear
Senior Administrator / / /
Tel +44 (0)1789 867533

 Posted by at 7:01 pm