Volume 10, Special Issue 3, Jul-Aug-Sep 2013
Alcohol-related harm is a major public health concern, and since April 2013 questions to identify problem drinkers have been included in the NHS Health Check for people aged 40-74 years. But young people are also a key at-risk group for hazardous consumption, and the physical harms of alcohol may be compounded by risks to their sexual health.
People have been producing alcohol for thousands of years and consuming it as part of their diet as well as for medicinal purposes. When taken in moderation, drinking alcohol can be a safe and pleasurable activity with potential heart health benefits. However, those cardiovascular benefits are lost when alcohol is consumed in excess, and drinking becomes harmful with adverse physical, psychological and social consequences.
A new survey suggests why people in deprived communities have higher levels of alcohol-related ill health than people in non-deprived communities despite drinking the same amount of alcohol.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics showing that alcohol-related deaths have increased for the second year running, highlighting the need for effective policies to regulate the 24 hour availability of cheap, heavily marketed drink, particularly in our supermarkets and off-licences.
NHS Health Checks now include AUDIT-C, a brief screening tool designed to help identify people who may be problem drinkers. Taking the test can be a sobering experience for patients, but now is the time to get a grip on our national relationship with alcohol.
This month’s Back to Basics feature is a useful wallchart showing estimates of alcohol content and calorie counts of typical alcoholic drinks. Many people forget the considerable calorific content of drinks and are unaware of how much pure alcohol they are consuming. Having these facts to hand are useful for the patients we see in practice and for our own healthy living!
This Back to Basics feature is a wallchart describing the functions of a healthy liver – the largest organ in the body. It carries out more than 500 tasks essential for life. This wallchart accompanies details on the new NICE guideline on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Good hydration is essential for health, especially for people who may not feel thirsty because of ageing or illness. Maintaining good levels of hydration can prevent or help in treating low blood pressure, urinary infections and constipation. It's so easy to assess hydration status - this useful guide will help.