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Health Check grapples with health issues on a global scale, investigates discoveries and solutions in healthcare, and looks at how to deliver a healthier world.

Health Check grapples with health issues on a global scale, investigates discoveries and solutions in healthcare, and looks at how to deliver a healthier world.
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Health Check grapples with health issues on a global scale, investigates discoveries and solutions in healthcare, and looks at how to deliver a healthier world.




Could a Single Injection Help Rid Us of Polio?

As vaccinations start in the Democratic Republic of Congo to try to contain the Ebola outbreak, scientists in the United States have published research which they hope will help to simplify immunisations against diseases like polio. Eradication is tricky because the vaccine needs to be given in multiple doses. Researchers at MIT say that they have successfully vaccinated animals with just one injection – using protective nanoparticles to coat the vaccine. The world-famous Chelsea Flower Show...


Action on Ebola Outbreak in the DRC

More this week on the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So far, there have now been at least 41 suspected cases, including three health workers. Of those at least 20 people have died, including one of the health workers. But the international community has acted quickly, after the Director General of the WHO confirmed people in certain areas will be given an experimental vaccine later this week. Health Check talks to Helen Branswell, a senior writer for the US Health...


A Sauna a Day to Keep the Doctor Away?

For Finnish people there is nothing more relaxing than sitting inside a hot sauna. And now a new study suggests that taking frequent saunas could reduce the risk of having a stroke. The researchers believe that the intense heat helps to reduce blood pressure, cutting the risk of stroke. Since the closure a landfill site near Beirut, residents started to burn the rubbish which was building up on the streets of Lebanon. The Mount Lebanon region saw a 500% rise of cases of open burning....


Vitamin D Helps Build-up Malnourished Babies

Large doses of Vitamin D helped malnourished children to put on weight in a trial in Pakistan. They were given the vitamin alongside the standard high calorie treatment designed for severely underweight children. As well as the weight gain, the children also developed language skills more quickly than those who were did not get the extra Vitamin D. But the researchers from London and the Punjab say that more trials are needed before this becomes a standard treatment – both in other...


Surgeons Need a Warm-up Routine

Do surgeons need to “warm-up” before they start an operation? New research from the UK shows that skilled surgeons speed up after the first operation of the day - especially if they repeat the same procedure on the next patient. A trainee surgeon and a neuroscientist analysed data from operating lists of highly-experienced surgeons in private hospitals – and now want to create a warm-up routine which could help all surgeons. Prescription medicines are now free for everyone under the age of...


50 Years Since First Heart Transplant

The first ever heart transplant took place in Cape Town in South Africa fifty years ago this week. That patient died after just 18 days – but today around five thousand people have heart transplants every year. A shortage of donor hearts means there is often a wait – and an artificial pump called an L-VAD can buy time. We hear from doctors and a patient about the advances in technology which have made the pumps easier to live with. The World Health Organization says that more than 200...


Every Step You Take Counts

Millions of people wear electronic step-counting bracelets or use apps on their phones – aiming for ten thousand steps a day. Claudia Hammond asks whether this routine motivates her – or if it’s actually setting her up for failure. Some experts applaud the bar charts and graphs which track progress as proof of healthy activity. But can the constant checking take away the pleasure of exercise? American scientists found that after the novelty wore off people did less because the competitive...


Could Cholesterol-lowering Drugs Fight Pneumonia?

Thousands of people around the world take a statin pill every day – to lower their cholesterol levels and help reduce their risk of stroke and heart attacks. In some people they cause side-effects – but they might also have a hidden benefit - helping older people fight the serious respiratory infection pneumonia. A British researcher describes her delight when she saw that statins boosted the immune systems of older people – which could help them fight deadly pneumonia. Following the...


When The Brain Wakes Up – But The Body Doesn’t

“When your brain wakes up but your body doesn’t” is how a sleep expert describes the phenomenon of sleep paralysis. Around 1 in 20 people will experience vivid hallucinations while falling asleep or waking up whilst being completely unable to move. Sleeping on your back can help to reduce the risk of an attack. Even less well understood is 'Exploding Head Syndrome' where people experience abrupt and very loud noises when going to sleep or waking up. To mark the 150th anniversary of Marie...


The “Hidden” Virus That Attacks The Liver

Four out five patients with hepatitis C don't know they're infected – and the virus can cause cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, leading to 1.3 million deaths every year. The World Health Organisation wants to eliminate hepatitis by 2030 – but only a handful of countries like Egypt and Australia are on track. The World Hepatitis Summit has been taking place in Sao Paulo in Brazil this week – to explore the best ways to detect and treat those infected. Could boxing training help people with...


Eye Diseases in Ebola Survivors

Around a quarter of survivors of the Ebola outbreak that started back in 2014 in West Africa have developed eye problems, including uveitis and cataracts. Dr Jessica Shantha and Dr Steven Yeh, both assistant professors of ophthalmology at Emory University in Atlanta US talked to Claudia Hammond about how they’ve been studying and treating the conditions. Loneliness is a huge problem amongst carers. Connecting via social media is a solution for some, but not everyone is comfortable with the...


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