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Blood pressure pills and cancer, Aortic aneurysm repair, Sinks and hospital infection

Clarity behind recent headlines linking cancer to pills for high blood pressure; Margaret McCartney unpicks the numbers. And the aorta is the largest artery in the body so should it burst due to an abdominal aortic aneurysm, results can be catastrophic. Now Surgeons are concerned that restricting the use of the latest keyhole techniques to repair aneurysms would be a backward step and harm patients. Plus how sinks could be causing hospital infections.


Epipens & Autoinjectors; Meningitis B Bedside Test; Age Related Macular Degeneration

Adrenaline auto injectors are used to treat life-threatening allergies, anaphylaxis, but there are severe supply issues with the brand leader, epipen, particularly with junior epipen and many parents are reporting problems when their children's devices need replacing. It's an anxious time for those caring for severely allergic children and Dr Margaret McCartney reviews the reasons for the shortage and the latest advice for worried parents. At the same time, epipen has come under fire from...


France Delists Alzheimer's Drugs, Quality of Life After Hip Fracture, Prostate Cancer

France delists Alzheimer's drugs, a move that is a world first, after concluding that the dangers of side effects outweigh any benefits. Mark assesses the evidence and hears the arguments from France and the UK including from the head of drug evaluation at the French Health Authority which is behind the decision. Plus a more holistic approach to hip fracture and a visit to a busy clinic in Oxford where research measuring quality of life after surgery aims to improve outcomes that really...


Placebo on Prescription: Hepatitis C Transplants, Genes and Back Pain

Until recently it was assumed that placebo pills would only produce a therapeutic benefit if patients didn't know that's what they had been given. But there are early suggestions that patients can still get symptom relief even when they're told that there is no active ingredient at all in the pills they've been given. So should placebo pills be openly prescribed to patients? Ted Kaptchuk, Professor of Medicine at Harvard University tells Mark he believes open-label placebo could, if...


Umbilical cord clamping, Natural cycles, Pedometers

When is the best time to clamp a baby's umbilical cord? It is a controversial question that has perplexed maternity units for years but new evidence from Nottingham has changed practice at the hospital's busy labour ward. Mark Porter pays them a visit. Natural Cycles is a much promoted contraception app advertised as an alternative to more conventional methods. But the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that claims of it being 'highly accurate' were misleading so Margaret McCartney...


Stroke man recovers speech, Apple watch and ECGs, Newborn heel prick test

Four years ago, Peter, a retired engineer from Gloucestershire, suffered a small stroke and lost the ability to speak. He communicated by hand signals and writing notes to his wife, Carol. But this summer, as he tells Dr Mark Porter, he woke up one morning and, much to everybody's amazement, began to talk....and he hasn't stopped since. Later that same day, a second stroke was diagnosed but his newly-returned speech was unaffected. It's a remarkable story and Alex Leff, Professor of...


Social prescribing, Topical steroid withdrawal, Pulmonary arterial hypertension

Every GP surgery should provide access to a dedicated social prescriber, according to the Royal College of GPs. Supporting peoples' non-medical needs - including housing, finance and social care - will, it is hoped, free up GP time for urgent medical care and at the same time, provide much-needed access to activities in the community. Arabella describes how social prescribing worked for her. A support worker helped her to join a choir, sort out finances and plan how to return to work after...


Aspirin, Stroke, Best Interests, Lasting Power of Attorney, Bawa Garba

If you are taking low dose aspirin - typically 75 mg day - to protect against heart attack or stroke and you haven't been weighed then there is a good chance you are on the wrong dose. And from prevention to treatment; a new way of managing the most common form of stroke by grabbing the blockage in the brain and pulling it out. Charlotte Smith tells her story of a remarkable recovery from the procedure whilst she was pregnant with her second child. Plus a continuation of our guide to the...


Running, cycling and knee health, Adrenaline and cardiac arrest, Artificial eyes

Does running damage your knees? And is cycling any better? Runner, cyclist, GP and Inside Health regular, Dr Margaret McCartney goes to the new Motion Analysis Lab at Glasgow's Jubilee Hospital and asks orthopaedic surgeon and competitive cyclist Jason Roberts about the latest evidence. Around 30,000 people a year suffer cardiac arrest - their heart suddenly stops pumping blood around their body - and fewer than one in ten survive. Paramedics and ambulance crews will give CPR and use a...


Weaning Babies, Seeing the Same Doctor Saves Lives, NHS Research, Mental Capacity

The relationship between when babies are weaned and the amount of time they sleep has hit the headlines after a new study has been published. Now UNICEF has got involved. Margaret McCartney reviews the evidence. Also proof that seeing the same GP saves lives. Mark Porter meets the man behind new research on mortality and continuity of care, Sir Denis Pereira Gray, who also works in the same GP surgery as his father and grandfather did. And a guide to Mental Capacity, an issue that touches...


Biosimilars, Insomnia, Abortion at home

Copycat biologic drugs, to treat conditions from arthritis and psoriasis to breast cancer and lymphoma, could save hundreds of millions of pounds off the NHS drugs bill. Called biosimilars, these close copies give the same clinical benefit at a fraction of the cost. Up to now the problem has been take-up, but a new initiative led by the specialist UK cancer centre, London's Royal Marsden, run across the NHS Cancer Vanguard, has demonstrated that patients can be switched effectively onto...


Tamoxifen and Breast Cancer Prevention

Tamoxifen, the so called "statin of breast cancer prevention" is recommended for healthy women with a family history of the disease. So why are only 1 in 7 of those eligible taking it? And Mark Porter speaks to Professor Gareth Evans working with his team at the Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester to reliably identify women at higher risk of breast cancer. They are testing for SNPS, spelling mistakes in the DNA that influence growth and survival of cancer cells and that give a more accurate...


Acid Attacks and Corneal Grafts, Bowel Cancer Screening, Sports Prosthesis for Children

The UK has one of the highest recorded rates of acid attacks in the world, nearly 500 cases in 2016. Most of the victims are men and most have corrosive liquid, typically acid or bleach, squirted into their faces while they are being mugged for their phone, bag or car. Andrew Keene was attacked in London last year while he sat in his car, and blinded by a robber who then drove off in his car. He's had five operations, including two corneal grafts, to try to restore the sight in his right...


Ageing brain, Fish Oils, Adaptive Trials, Yoga

Deciding between healthy ageing and early dementia; how useful are modern imaging techniques in deciphering this difficult question that many families are grappling with. Margaret McCartney tries to make sense of conflicting research on the impact of fish oils on children's reading ability and memory - how can the same research group, in the same university run two trials and get completely opposite results? And recently Baroness Tessa Jowell called for more access to adaptive trials but...


Cardiac Rehab, Withdrawing from Antidepressants, Middle Ear Implant

There are many myths about recovery from a heart attack. The most dangerous is that exercise is too risky. The truth is that for most people, they should be doing much more exercise, not less. Patrick Doherty, Professor of Cardiovascular Health at York University and lead author for the National Audit of Cardiac Rehab tells Dr Mark Porter that 70,000 people who should be accessing life saving cardiac rehabilitation therapy are missing out. The answer? Don't blame the patients but improve...


Prostate Cancer

This week it has been hard to miss news on prostate cancer. The papers were full of a 'one stop shop' service for the diagnosis of the disease being rolled out in three hospitals in England. Plus celebrities have described their diagnosis and encouraged men to see their doctor for a PSA test. But just published today, the largest every study of prostate cancer over 10 years confirms that a single screening test of PSA does not save lives. With all these headlines this week is an ideal time...


Diabetes Tech, Antidepressants, Stem Cell Therapy and knees

First urine testing then finger pricking and now high-tech scanning. The monitoring of glucose levels is undergoing a revolution for patients with Type 1 Diabetes. Dr Margaret McCartney reports from Glasgow on the new sensing devices which allow for endless glucose scanning without the need for multiple finger prick blood tests. She talks to parents like Ben, who's paying for a continuous glucose monitor because the fingers of his young son George, were so sore from constant finger prick...


Medical Cannabis; Hidden Blood in the Urine; Ageing and Immunity

There are questions in Parliament following the story of 6 year old Alfie Dingley who was refused medical cannabis to help relieve his epileptic seizures. But what is the body of evidence for medical cannabis and does the reality live up to the hype? And age, immunity and the poor performance of this season's flu vaccine. Why do our defences decline as we get older and what can be done to improve vaccines that aim to protect the elderly against flu? Plus blood in your urine - pee the colour...


Rickets, Drug addiction recovery, Defibrillator support

Rickets was eradicated from the UK after World War Two but "The English Disease", as rickets has long been known, is back. Two children have died of this completely preventable disease in the past two years. Dr Mark Porter talks to paediatrician Dr Benjamin Jacobs at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore about the importance of Vitamin D supplementation and calcium for proper bone growth. He meets Zana, whose toddler son was diagnosed with rickets six months ago and talks to Dr...


Blood Clots, Iron Supplements, Doctor's Bag

Over half of all blood clots are acquired during hospitalisation, particularly for surgery, so prevention is key. Deep vein thromboses - DVTs - typically occur in the veins of the leg and central to prevention is the need to assess individual risk, while taking steps like special stockings, leg massagers and anticoagulant "blood thinning" drugs to mitigate them. But there are concerns in some quarters - particularly among orthopaedic surgeons - that the drive to protect patients against...