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Medical Archives - Poole Heart Support Group

Symptoms of Heart Attack

 Health, Medical  Comments Off on Symptoms of Heart Attack
Nov 092017
 

If you suspect the symptoms of a heart attack, dial 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

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.

Symptoms of a heart attack can include:

  • chest pain – a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing in the centre of your chest
  • pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and abdomen
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
  • an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
  • coughing or wheezing

Although the chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion. In some cases, there may not be any chest pain at all, especially in women, the elderly and people with diabetes.

It’s the overall pattern of symptoms that helps to determine whether you are having a heart attack.

Waiting for the ambulance

If someone has had a heart attack, it’s important to rest while they wait for an ambulance, to avoid unnecessary strain on the heart.

If aspirin is easily available and the person who has had a heart attack isn’t allergic to it, slowly chew and then swallow an adult-sized tablet (300mg) while waiting for the ambulance.

The aspirin helps to thin the blood and restore the heart’s blood supply.

Cardiac arrest

In some cases a complication called ventricular arrhythmia can cause the heart to stop beating. This is known as sudden cardiac arrest.

Signs and symptoms suggesting a person has gone into cardiac arrest include:

  • they appear not to be breathing
  • they’re not moving
  • they don’t respond to any stimulation, such as being touched or spoken to

If you think somebody has gone into cardiac arrest and you don’t have access to an automated external defibrillator (AED), you should perform chest compressions, as this can help restart the heart.

Chest compression

To carry out a chest compression on an adult:

  1. Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.
  2. Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5-6cm on their chest.
  3. Repeat this until an ambulance arrives.

Aim to do the chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions a minute. You can watch a video on CPR for more information about how to perform “hands-only” CPR.

Read information about how to resuscitate a child.

Automated external defibrillator (AED)

If you have access to a device called an AED, you should use it. An AED is a safe, portable electrical device that most large organisations keep as part of their first aid equipment.

It helps to establish a regular heartbeat during a cardiac arrest by monitoring the person’s heartbeat and giving them an electric shock if necessary.

You can read more information about CPR and AEDs on the Arrhythmia Alliance website.

Angina and heart attacks

Angina is a syndrome (a collection of symptoms caused by an underlying health condition) caused when the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart becomes restricted.

People with angina can experience similar symptoms to a heart attack, but they usually happen during exercise and pass within a few minutes.

However, occasionally, people with angina can have a heart attack. It’s important to recognise the difference between the symptoms of angina and those of a heart attack.

The best way to do this is to remember that the symptoms of angina can be controlled with medication, unlike the symptoms of a heart attack.

If you have angina, you may have been prescribed medication that improves your symptoms within five minutes. If the first dose doesn’t work, a second dose can be taken after five minutes, and a third dose after a further five minutes.

If the pain persists, despite taking three doses of glyceryl trinitrate over 15 minutes, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.


Article published on NHS Choices

Blood-thinning drugs may reduce dementia risk in people with irregular heartbeats

 Medical, News  Comments Off on Blood-thinning drugs may reduce dementia risk in people with irregular heartbeats
Oct 302017
 

“Common blood thinning drugs halve the risk of dementia for patients who have an irregular heartbeat,” reports the Mail Online.

Researchers in Sweden used the country’s health registry data to assess whether people with a condition called atrial fibrillation were less likely to get dementia if they took drugs like warfarin.

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heartbeat. This can make the blood more likely to clot, which can lead to a stroke.

Most people with AF are prescribed anticoagulant drugs, which reduce the blood’s ability to clot.

Anticoagulants are often referred to as “blood-thinning drugs”, but this is technically incorrect as they don’t affect the density of blood.

People with AF are also at more risk of dementia, probably because of a build-up of tiny clots in the small blood vessels of the brain.

This study showed people with AF who were prescribed anticoagulants within a month of diagnosis had a 29% lower risk of getting dementia, compared with those not given the prescription.

But because of the type of study, the researchers can’t prove that anticoagulants are the reason for the reduced risk.

Still, as the researchers point out, the possible reduction in dementia risk is another reason to keep taking anticoagulant drugs if you’re prescribed them.

You shouldn’t take anticoagulants if you’re not at risk of blood clots as they can increase your risk of bleeding.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers at Danderyds University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden.

It was published in the peer-reviewed European Heart Journal on an open access basis, making it free to read online.

Among the UK media, only the Sun pointed out that the study can’t prove cause and effect. The Sun’s headline described anticoagulant treatment as a “2p Alzheimer’s buster”, which is unfortunate – the type of dementia likely to be most affected by blood clots is not Alzheimer’s disease, but vascular dementia.

All the media used the more impressive 48% risk reduction figure from the study, which came from looking at people who took the drugs for most of the time, compared with people who never took them.

The more usual scientific standard is to use an intention to treat analysis of the figures, which gives a risk reduction of 29%.

Finally, The Guardian’s headline could have made it clearer that any reported dementia risk reduction only applied to people diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and not the population at large.

What kind of research was this?

This retrospective cohort study used data from Swedish health registries.

This type of study can help researchers spot patterns and links between factors (in this case anticoagulant drugs and dementia) but can’t prove that one thing (the drugs) causes another (the lower dementia risk).

That’s because researchers can’t rule out the effect of confounding factors that may influence the results.

What did the research involve?

Researchers looked at the records of all patients diagnosed with AF in Sweden from 2006 to 2014, excluding those who already had dementia.

They looked at who was prescribed anticoagulants within 30 days of diagnosis and who was diagnosed with dementia during an average of around 3 years of follow-up.

After adjusting for confounding factors, they calculated the risk of stroke for people with or without anticoagulant prescriptions.

The researchers used a statistical technique called propensity scoring to try to even out confounding factors of why some people did and others didn’t take anticoagulants despite all having a diagnosis of AF.

This is a suitable step to take, as compliance problems (not taking medication as instructed) are a known issue in some AF patients. They say this allowed them to make matched comparisons between the groups.

They also tested anticoagulant use with unconnected outcomes like falls, flu, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (COPD).

They said that if anticoagulants were linked to any of them, this would indicate there may be an underlying confounding factor they hadn’t accounted for.

This would mean they wouldn’t be confident making any association between anticoagulants and dementia risk.

What were the basic results?

The researchers found:

  • 26,210 of the 444,106 people in the study group got dementia – a rate of 1.73 dementia cases per 100 people each year
  • people who’d started anticoagulants shortly after AF diagnosis were 29% less likely to get dementia (hazard ratio [HR] 0.71, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.69 to 0.74)
  • there was no difference between rates of dementia when directly comparing older anticoagulants like warfarin with newer types, such as clopidogrel
  • people who had anticoagulant prescriptions 80% of the time were 48% less likely to get dementia than people who never had anticoagulant prescriptions (HR 0.52, 95% CI 0.5 to 0.55)
  • there was no association between anticoagulants and falls or flu

Anticoagulant use slightly increased the risk of diabetes and COPD, but as this association was in the opposite direction from that for dementia, the researchers remained confident in their results.

They also found that people prescribed anticoagulants were likely to be younger and healthier.

Apart from not taking anticoagulants, the factors most closely linked to chances of getting dementia were older age, Parkinson’s disease and alcohol abuse.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers said their results “strongly suggest that oral anticoagulation treatment protects against dementia in atrial fibrillation” and that “early initiation of anticoagulant treatment in patients with AF could be of value” to prevent dementia.

Conclusion

If you’ve been diagnosed with AF and prescribed anticoagulant treatments such as warfarin or clopidogrel, we already know they protect you against having a stroke. This study suggests they may also help protect you against dementia.

Cutting the risk of dementia for people who have a raised risk from AF would be an exciting step forward.

Unfortunately, we can’t tell from this study whether the protection against dementia was down to the anticoagulants because of the possible effect of unmeasured confounding factors.

Usually, we’d want to see a randomised controlled trial (RCT) to follow this study to find out if anticoagulant drugs really do have that effect.

But because people with AF are usually prescribed anticoagulants to reduce their risk of stroke, it wouldn’t be ethical to do an RCT, as it would leave people unprotected against stroke when a known preventative treatment is available.

Because of the difficulties of carrying out a proper trial, we’ll need to see more studies of the kind done here, in different populations, to see whether the results hold true.

It would be useful if future studies have clearer information about which confounding factors are being taken into account.

There are a few things we don’t know from this study.

  • The researchers were unable to differentiate between types of AF. Some people have just 1 episode of AF that doesn’t return or goes away with treatment, while others have persistent AF that happens all the time. The type of AF may affect both dementia risk and whether you’re prescribed anticoagulants.
  • We also don’t know which types of dementia people were diagnosed with. AF may be more strongly linked to vascular dementia than Alzheimer’s disease. But we don’t know for sure which type of dementia might be helped by taking anticoagulants.

You can reduce your risk of vascular dementia by avoiding conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, which can be triggered by smoking and obesity.

When it comes to dementia prevention, it’s often the case that what’s good for the heart is also good for the brain.


Published by the NHS on 25/10/17

Why more people die in the winter

 Health, Medical  Comments Off on Why more people die in the winter
Dec 182016
 

More than 23,000 elderly people died as a result of being too cold last winter in England and Wales.The year before the toll was 29,000, which is nearly 10 people aged 65 or older every hour.

Yet temperatures only dropped to 4C on average.

Latest figures for Scotland show the nation’s winter death toll was the lowest on record. Deaths fell by nearly 1,000, but still totalled 1,790.

Meanwhile, the coldest city in the world, Yakutsk in east Siberia, has no excess winter deaths, even though temperatures there can drop to minus 49C.

So why and how are so many people perishing in the UK from the cold?

The deaths in winter are not due to massive cold…It’s down to quite minor degrees of cold that people were getting every day
Expert Professor Bill Keatinge

Professor Bill Keatinge, an expert from Queen Mary University of London, has studied the issue extensively.

He said: “On the whole, the countries that have the mildest winters tend to have a higher mortality than countries with very cold winters.

“This is because the deaths in winter are not due to massive cold, with people being overwhelmed in their own houses and dying of extreme cold.

“It’s down to quite minor degrees of cold that people were getting every day.”

Prolonged exposure not big chill

He said very few of the deaths were caused by true hypothermia, where the core body temperature drops significantly.

“Most of them are due to strokes and heart attacks.

“This is because the blood becomes more liable to clot in people who are exposed to the cold.”

TEMPERATURE EFFECTS ON COMFORT AND HEALTH

  • 24C – top range of comfort
  • 21C – recommended living room temperature
  • Less than 20C – death risk begins
  • 18C – recommended bedroom temperature
  • 16C – resistance to respiratory diseases weakened
  • 12C – more than two hours at this temperature raises blood pressure and increases heart attack and stroke risk
  • 5C – Significant risk of hypothermia

Source: West Midlands Public Health Observatory


When exposed to cold, the body contracts down the blood vessels in the skin to stop blood flowing to the skin and to prevent heat loss.

This means more of the blood circulates to central parts of the body, which overloads the heart and lungs with blood.

The body gets rid of fluid to reduce this load by excreting salt and water, but the net result is the blood becomes more concentrated and liable to clot.

The next biggest cold-related killer is respiratory infections such as flu.

But Professor Keatinge added: “Flu epidemics have been declining for over 30 years. The last really big one was in 1976.”

He said this was mainly down to recent flu viruses being less virulent rather than medical interventions such as annual flu jabs for the elderly.

“The fact that we now keep much warmer in winter and we are aware of the problem means that all the various causes of cold-related illness and death have declined,” he said.

Winter woollies

But he said people in the UK and places like Portugal, which also has a high rate of excess winter deaths, were still pretty poor at keeping warm in winter.

“People in the north of Finland take great precautions against cold. They keep their houses warmer in winter than we do, and they are much better equipped for outdoor cold.

“They have much better outdoor clothing. They take it very seriously.”

Although we are getting better at keeping our houses warm, Professor Keatinge said people in the UK often dress unsuitably for cold weather.

“There is no problem about being out in winter if you are suitably clothed and you are exercising and you stay warm.

People need to realise that cold can kill and they need to keep warm
Mr Patrick Sachon from the Met Office


“But if you wait for a bus and you assume a bus is going to come in five minutes and it doesn’t come for 45 minutes, and you are at a windy stop with no shelter and without adequate clothing you can get very cold indeed.

“Public transport is a menace from this point of view. It doesn’t have to be, but we tend not to have very well heated waiting rooms for trains and bus shelters that are not wind-proofed. That is probably a substantial source of problems,” he said.

Global warming

Studies show elderly people, and particularly those on low incomes, are at the greatest risk. There are a number of reasons why.

Those that succumb are not necessarily sick already, but older people’s blood vessels tend to have rougher linings than those of younger people, which makes them even more susceptible to clotting.

Even mild winters claim lives

Those on small pensions might struggle to keep their houses warmer and might have to rely on public transport or walk rather than use a car, for example.

Professor Keatinge also warned that global warming could make the situation worse rather than better.
“Global warming is making our winters milder and that could be dangerous. If people stop worrying about cold they get more careless about heating their homes and wearing warm clothing.”

‘Don’t be complacent’

Mr Patrick Sachon from the Met Office said winter deaths go up by about 1.4% for one degree drop in temperature below 18C.

“So it doesn’t have to be that cold to start to increase mortality,” he said.

“Our winters are much milder than in other countries. It rarely gets below minus five. Most winter days, the temperature usually gets above freezing and when it’s mild, it can be 13C.

TIPS ON STAYING WARM AND SAFE

  • If you take medicine for a health condition, make sure you have enough of it and keep it at hand
  • Wrap up warm
  • Keep active
  • Keep your bedroom at 18C
  • Keep your living room at 21C

“But even when it is relatively mild, if there is a strong wind that can make you cold and people are not prepared for that when they are out and about.

“In this country, people don’t think about what getting cold will do to them because it doesn’t kill them immediately.

“We don’t have well insulated houses and we have a culture that believes having a window open to let in lots of fresh air is good for us, even though it is not.

“What you should actually be doing is keeping your living room at 21C and your bedroom at 18C, which is quite warm by most people’s standards.”

He said this winter was likely to be another mild one in the UK, but he warned this was no reason for people to be complacent.

“We could still get a cold snap. People need to realise that cold can kill and they need to keep warm,” he warned.


Published on the BBC website at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5372296.stm

 Posted by at 10:35 pm

Research into Long QT Syndrome

 Health, Medical, News  Comments Off on Research into Long QT Syndrome
Apr 032015
 

If you don’t know what Long QT syndrome is, then no point in reading any further!

PHSG has received a message from The Research House to enquire whether anyone who has Long QT Syndrome would be willing to participate in interviews for their research.

The content of the message is below  :

The Research House is conducting a nationwide market research study on Long QT Syndrome . We are inviting people who live with Long QT Syndrome to take part in a face-to-face interview on Monday 13th April or, alternatively, a telephone interview between Tuesday 14th April – Friday 17th April. As a token of appreciation, we are offering an honorarium of £105 for a face-to-face interview or £50 for a telephone interview. The aim of the research is to gain insight into patients’ and caregivers’ views with regards to Long QT Syndrome.

If you know any patients or carers of patients who may be interested in taking part in this study, I’d be grateful if you forwarded them my details. I have also attached a leaflet that you may use. As a token of appreciation, we are offering a referral fee of £30 per patient that you may be able to direct to us. Please be advised that we are not asking you to email us details of patients, rather we’re asking you to give them our details and should they be interested they can contact us directly (in accordance to the Pharmaceutical Market Research Code of Conduct).

We guarantee that this study will comply with all the relevant data protection and privacy laws and with the European Pharmaceutical Market Research Association’s Code of  Conduct. The highest standards of professional conduct will be upheld in the collection and the recording of any information  provided. Participants will remain anonymous and their responses will  be treated as confidential at all times. No one will attempt to sell or promote any products during or following  participation in this research.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Farhana Uddin | Project Coordinator
The Research House, A Schlesinger Associates Company
124 Wigmore Street
London, W1U 3RY

(D) 44 (0) 20 7487 9188

(T) 44 (0) 20 7935 4979
(F) 44 (0) 20 7224 2494
recruitment@research-house.co.uk| www.research-house.co.uk

Exercises you should do every day

 Health, Medical, News  Comments Off on Exercises you should do every day
Mar 282015
 

Weight training at 60: exercises you should do every day

step ups

Step ups

Forget a gentle walk. Older people should be using dumbbells and building muscle, according to a public health expert.

If you thought old age was a time for gentle walks and light stretching, think again. Experts are now saying that people in their 60s, 70s and 80s who lift weights and do daily resistance training will protect themselves from a range of ills brought on by ageing and could even prolong their lives.

Continue reading »

Are you affected by heart failure?

 Medical, News  Comments Off on Are you affected by heart failure?
Mar 262015
 
British Heart Foundation

British Heart Foundation

The BHF have asked whether anyone that has been affected by heart failure would be will to take part in a study.

The content of the message from Sindujah Manohar, who is Heart Support Groups Administrator for the BHF is below :

“We have been told of a new study from the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences who are looking for participants who have been affected by heart failure. The study will look into experiences of heart failure monitoring and the updating of an internet resource for other people affected by the condition and the health professionals who provide care for them. If you do not have heart failure yourself, please do pass this along to anyone who you think may be interested in participating. Please read below for more information from the lead researcher. Continue reading »

Taking a statin should always be a patients choice

 Medical, News  Comments Off on Taking a statin should always be a patients choice
Nov 252014
 

Nearly everyone in America who is in their late sixties or older should consider taking a statin, according to a US cardiologist.

Writing in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the cardiologist argues that new prescribing guidelines in the United States mean that nearly everyone would be recommended the cholesterol lowering drug.

Following the publication of new national guidelines in November 2013, American doctors were advised to recommend a statin to people with a 7.5 per cent risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years.

In the UK, guidelines for the prescription of statins are different, with GPs being advised to offer them to people who have a 10 per cent chance of a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years. Continue reading »

Tackling High Blood Pressure

 Medical, News  Comments Off on Tackling High Blood Pressure
Nov 232014
 

The BHF joins health organisations to tackle the nation’s high blood pressure

Blood Pressure Test Strap

Blood Pressure Test Strap

The British Heart Foundation has joined forces with leading health organisations to improve the nation’s blood pressure levels and stop more lives being cut short by cardiovascular disease.

Around seven million people in the UK are unaware they have high blood pressure, increasing their risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke.

Figures show reducing the nation’s blood pressure to within healthy limits could save the NHS £850 million in health and social care spend over 10 years.

The BHF has teamed up with Public Health England and other key health organisations to launch a new strategy aimed at improving the way we prevent, diagnose and treat high blood pressure.

Millions of people walking around with this ticking time bomb, unaware that they are at increased risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke

Professor Peter Weissberg, our Medical Director, said: “High blood pressure produces no symptoms until it causes a heart attack or a stroke, yet it is easily detectible and easily treated.

“Despite this there are millions of people walking around with this ticking time bomb, unaware that they are at increased risk of a potentially fatal heart attack or stroke.

“It is simply unacceptable that so many avoidable heart attacks and strokes are occurring when the solution is so simple.

“The British Heart Foundation is strongly behind Public Health England’s new action plan. By identifying people with high blood pressure and treating them we will have an enormous impact on the future health of our nation.”


Article reproduced from the British Heart Foundation

Diabetes and Heart Disease

 Medical, News  Comments Off on Diabetes and Heart Disease
Nov 182014
 

control diabetesIf you have diabetes, you are more likely to develop coronary heart disease than someone without diabetes.

Diabetes causes high levels of glucose in your blood.  This can affect the walls of your arteries, and make them more likely to develop fatty deposits (atheroma).

If atheroma builds up in your coronary arteries (the arteries that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart) you will develop coronary heart disease, which can cause heart attack and angina.

Types of diabetes

Type one diabetes occurs when your body cannot make insulin. This type usually affects children and young adults.

Type two diabetes occurs when your body can’t produce enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work properly. Type two diabetes is more common and tends to develop gradually as people get older – usually after the age of 40. It’s closely linked with:

  • being overweight
  • being physically inactive
  • a family history of diabetes.

Some ethnic groups have a much higher rate of diabetes – particularly people of African Caribbean and South Asian origin.

What can I do to reduce my risk of developing diabetes?

You can greatly reduce your risk of developing diabetes by controlling your weight and doing regular physical activity.  The great news is that doing these things will also make you less likely to develop other cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke – as well as being great for your general mental and physical wellbeing.

How can I protect my heart if I already have diabetes?

If you have diabetes, it’s very important to make sure that you control your blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol to help reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.

To do this you can:

  • do more physical activity
  • eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • control your weight, and
  • give up smoking.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you may also need to take  a cholesterol-lowering medicine such as statins to help protect your heart.

Article reproduced from the British Heart Foundation at http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/conditions/diabetes.aspx

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Clinics

 Medical, News  Comments Off on Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Clinics
Jul 152014
 

screeningFOR MEN AGED OVER 65 – AN OPPORTUNITY NOT TO BE MISSED!

Are you male, over the age of 65 and have not yet had a AAA Scan?

If so, please contact the Dorset and Wiltshire AAA Screening programme on 01722 336262 ext 2640 or 2539

Email : AAAscreening@salisbury.nhs.uk

Please have your NHS number available.

Please note we deliver clinics across Dorset and Wiltshire

INFORMATION ABOUT THE SCAN:-

The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to your body.  In some men, aged 65 and above, the wall of the aorta in the abdomen can become weak and start to expand and form what is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm.  A simple test called an ultrasound scan will identify if there is an aneurysm. This can be done at a number of GP surgeries and community hospital locations across Wiltshire and Dorset. If you are interested please contact the Dorset and Wiltshire Screening programme on the details above to book an appointment and discuss any queries that you may have.

Please note that if you are male and under the age of 65 you will automatically be invited for a scan during the year that you turn 65.

A copy of the original issued document can be viewed by clicking here.