There are many fads about specific foods and their 'super' vitamins and minerals. Our choice of foods has also widened as supermarkets expand their ranges and previously specialist foods become mainstream. However, even though we can now buy tamarillos, Christmas-cake cheese or cranberry and pecan bread, the principle of proportion remains consistent. So the Eatwell Plate is very helpful in showing patients exactly what we mean when we advise them to follow a 'healthy, balanced diet'.
Excess body weight is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and a range of other debilitating health conditions, and is the third leading cause of death in high-income countries like the UK. Since practice nurses may have long-term, regular contact with patients, they may be well placed to motivate and support individuals in losing weight. It can, however, be difficult for nurses to find the right words to discuss this very sensitive subject with patients.
The last decade has witnessed an explosion of interest in vitamin D. The vitamin has an established role in promoting bone health, but should we be routinely testing vitamin D levels in our patients? And what is the evidence that supplementation improves health beyond the skeleton?
Most people with coronary heart disease (CHD) can be managed with lifestyle change and optimal medical therapy, but some patients need to be referred for revascularisation procedures such as angioplasty with stenting (also called percutaneous coronary intervention; PCI). Practice nurses have an important role to play in follow-up of these patients to minimise adverse events, promote lifestyle change and ensure continuing concordance with medication.
Over 10 years ago, publication of Women's Health Initiative (WHI) studies affected both public perceptions and our clinical prescribing of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Front-page reports of higher risks of heart attacks, stroke and breast cancer led to around a million women in the UK stopping HRT, many without medical advice or clinical assessment. Since then, new evidence has emerged, much of which does not support the earlier alarming headlines.
Malnutrition is a cause and consequence of disease, and affects at least 3 million adults in the UK, most of whom live in the community. By helping these vulnerable patients to eat the right types of food rather than use inappropriate supplements, practice nurses can not only help prevent and treat malnutrition, but also save the NHS millions of pounds each year.
A patient may present at any time suffering from the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, (a severe, life-threatening, generalised or systemic hypersensitivity reaction). This article explains how to recognise anaphylaxis and how to treat anaphylactic shock. It also outlines the responsibilities of practice nurses and other members of the primary healthcare team after a patient has had a suspected anaphylactic reaction.