Hypertension (high blood pressure) is estimated to affect 60-70% of people aged over 60 years of age and increases the risk of complications such as coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke. Although it is well accepted that lowering blood pressure is crucial in reducing overall cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, the number of people whose raised blood pressure is reduced below target levels remains defiantly low. In this article, we review why so many patients fail to reach blood pressure targets and how we can improve this, including use of more than one antihypertensive.
The focus of diabetes care is well established in general practice, with practice nurses taking on much of the responsibility for diabetes management. The white paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say talks about high quality care being delivered to patients close to where they live. So, in the future, general practice can expect to take on more responsibility for conditions such as diabetes. This article discusses the priorities for the newly diagnosed patient, and the importance of sound advice and guidance in the early stages.
Heart murmurs – abnormal sounds heard through the stethoscope – are caused by turbulent blood flow in the heart or blood vessels. They can be associated with a range of conditions, including valve defects, high blood pressure and heart failure in adults and congenital heart defects in children. Patients should be investigated carefully to identify the underlying cause, which will determine treatment and prognosis. Some pathological murmurs require no treatment. If they are severe, however, surgery may be needed to correct the causative defect. Drug treatments may be indicated for some murmurs.
Healthcare professionals spend a great deal of their time screening for, and treating, silent killer diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia but often ignore the primary cause of these conditions, which is often – quite literally – staring them in the face. Obesity can be seen without the need to use any fancy gadgets – we simply need to use our eyes each time we see a patient. There are essentially two main body shapes – apples and pears – each associated with different distributions of body fat. Pearshaped people carry most of their excess fat around the hips, buttocks and thighs. Apples carry most of their excess body fat around the middle; this is known as central obesity and is much riskier for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In this article we review why central obesity matters, how to measure it and management strategies.
The revised new GMS contract recommends that we screen patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) and diabetes for depression. This is evidence-based, as we know that people with long-term conditions are at high risk of anxiety and depression; but who is going to do it, how is it done and when do we find the time? It would seem obvious to include some sort of screening process in the annual CHD or diabetes review – but is this feasible? In this article we review practical ways of screening for depression in patients with CHD and diabetes.
There has been a flurry of interest in functional foods over the past few months. Health claims range from lowering cholesterol to improving vitality. Functional foods have been popular in the Far East for many years but only arrived in the UK six years ago. They are now the most rapidly growing sector of the food industry, with estimates suggesting we currently spend around £1 million on them every day. To make informed choices, consumers and health professionals need to know the truth behind the hype. In this article we review the range of functional foods now available, take a look at the evidence for their claims and explore the pros and cons of using them.
Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) include common and high-risk conditions such as unstable angina, which can be difficult to diagnose, particularly in women, the elderly and diabetics. Early identification and appropriate management can significantly reduce the risk of death, morbidity and subsequent hospital admissions. This article aims to clarify what happens in ACS, how they present and how they should be managed.
People from ethnic minorities may not get the diabetes care they need because of issues associated with language, literacy and culture, warned a recent Audit Commission report on diabetes – Testing Times. This article explores these issues and gives some insight into the challenges of looking after South Asians – Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, Indians and Sri Lankans – with diabetes, as well as offering some pointers to improve their care and treatment.