Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Can poor hearing hurt a relationship?

Couples with good hearing are happier according to recent research, supporting the age-old notion that listening is the secret to a successful relationship.

In a Boots hearingcare study of 5,032 British adults who have been treated for hearing loss, one in five say they understand their partner better as a result, 18% claim they talk with their partner more often and 9% feel they argue less. Overall, more than a third (36%) believe that addressing their hearing loss has significantly improved their relationship with their partner – findings that have implications for millions of couples across the UK, particularly as research shows people with hearing loss wait 10 to 15 years on average before taking action.

It’s not just the relationship with the partner that appears to benefit from better hearing, with 36% claiming to be more sociable, almost a third (29%) more confident and 21% more talkative. While 89% say they were aware of their hearing loss, 43% did not realise the impact it was having on their loved ones. For almost half (43%) it was their partner that actually persuaded them to take action and 63% wish they had taken action earlier.

The research findings are released to launch Boots’ ‘Great Big Hearing Test’ campaign, which aims to make hearing tests more accessible, encouraging earlier diagnosis and treatment. The campaign will see Boots hearingcare making FREE, quick and easy to complete hearing tests available online - www.greatbighearingtest.com - and in its high-street stores, as well as providing support and advice to partners, families and friends of people with hearing loss.

Professor Adrian Davis OBE, from the Hearing and Communication Group at the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, says: “I welcome this research as it shows the everyday benefits of hearing healthcare. Around the country there are the familiar cries of “I’m sure you HAVE got selective hearing” or “I have to repeat everything at least three times before you take any notice! ” which reverberate around households.

“Many people don’t realise that very often a hearing issue is at the root of these cries for help! People with hearing problems often become isolated and relationships end up in silence, because they adapt to hearing loss over time and don’t realise the impact it is having. This research demonstrates the positive impact of addressing hearing difficulties, how a simple check can be the first step to better hearing and communication with loved ones and an improvement in quality of family relationships.”

Hearing loss is increasing in prevalence, currently affecting nine million people in the UK including 42% of people over the age of 50 and 71% of people over 70. People often put up with hearing loss for many years before seeking treatment and statistics show that as many as two thirds of people with hearing loss have not taken action to address it. This means approximately six million people could stand to improve the relationship with their partner.

Boots hearingcare audiologist and customer care manager Karen Shepherd says: “We want to encourage people to recognise hearing loss at an earlier stage and not just ‘put up with’ hearing difficulties. Not only will this help avoid some of the problems associated with untreated hearing loss, including social withdrawal, it will also enable a more positive outcome as the longer you put off action, the harder it is to adjust.

“In some respects, it’s a case of use it or lose – the less out of practice your hearing nerves are, the easier it is to tune them back in to the hugely complicated signals we process without realising."

It’s not just relationships with partners that better hearing can improve – 30% now enjoy a better relationship with their children and 27% have experienced an improvement in their relationship with their grandchildren and wider circle of friends. In addition, 60% of those below 56 years of age have noticed an improvement in their relationship with their work colleagues, while 44% of this group found that better hearing has improved their performance at work.

The ‘Great Big Hearing Test’ campaign from Boots will:

• Make hearing checks more accessible than ever before, including the launch of an online hearing test (that takes 3 minutes to complete) and the availability of FREE hearing checks (that take 15 minutes to complete) on the high street via over 300 Boots stores
• Engage family members and partners of people with hearing loss to help them address the issue in a positive way
• Communicate the positive impact of better hearing through an education and awareness campaign
• See Boots staff being trained to recognise the signs of hearing loss so they can provide advice and, in some stores, hearing checks using hand-held devices
• Involve Boots working with healthcare professionals to ensure they are up-to-date with the latest information about hearing loss treatment

Nine out of ten people admit they used excuses because of their hearing difficulties before they took action to address it – 55% have told people they were talking too quietly, half have blamed distracting background noise and 38% have accused people of mumbling. In addition, 39% admit they used to bluff their way through conversations.

Relationship psychologist Dr Glenn Wilson says: “Our ability to communicate is central to our happiness and never more so than with our partner and loved ones. New research even suggested that good conversation and quality relationships can have a bigger impact on health than exercise and diet. Difficulties with communication can cause conflict in relationships, but also leave sufferers feeling isolated and withdrawn. This study reiterates the positive impact of regular communication within couples and the importance of people feeling their partner is listening.”

Visit www.greatbighearingtest.com for more information.

(EDITOR: I think this is something I'll have to address in my own life!)

No gym contracts? That's not a problem!

Innovative offering opens up gym membership to all.

In the light of the Office of Fair Trading announcing a high court ruling deeming that deals locking gym-goers into long-term contracts are ‘unfair’ and ‘unenforceable’, there is an even greater need for more flexible options such as those offered by the affordable gym chain, Pure Gym.

It was announced recently that anyone locked into a gym contract of a year or more should be free to cancel it without incurring any cost to themselves.

The court action was brought by the OFT against Ashbourne Management Services, who operate membership schemes for 500,000 members of small independent gyms across Britain.

Removing industry stereotypes like inflexible contracts, limited opening hours and high cost memberships, Pure Gym offers low cost membership including ‘Price for life’, 24 hour opening and no contract. The concept is already proving a big hit with a quarter (25%) of their members having never joined a gym before.

In the biggest shake-up of the £2.5bn fitness industry in some two decades, Pure Gym has been starting a fitness revolution following its own survey results that reveal the biggest barriers to joining a gym are high membership fees (72%), fixed contracts (40%) and lack of time (55%).

Peter Roberts, Pure Gym Founder and CEO said: “This is positive news for gym users across the UK, many of whom have suffered heavy-handed tactics like threats to damage credit ratings if members are unable or unwilling to pay the minimum term of long contracts.

“The Pure Gym model aims to encourage those who have never joined a gym before,plus providing an affordable and flexible option for those who expect more from their memberships and who do not want to commit to long-term contracts.”

Pure Gym launched in 2009 and currently has 15 gyms open and an additional five sites secured. By the end of 2011 Pure Gym hopes to have opened 25 sites across the country in total.

For more details you can visit www.puregym.co.uk.

Monday, 30 May 2011

NHS Direct uses your Google Android phone to get trusted health advice directly to you

NHS Direct has launched a free mobile app so people can access its trusted and reliable health advice conveniently from wherever they are.

People with an Android™ smartphone can download the new app to assess their own or someone else's symptoms by answering a number of clinically designed questions. An app will also be available for the iPhone® next month.

Outcomes may include instant on-screen self-care advice or instructions on the most appropriate course of action. Patients can save any self-care advice they receive back to the app or email it to themselves so that they can access it easily at a later date.

The app is linked to NHS Direct's telephone service and, if a further assessment is recommended, users will be able to submit their contact details so that an NHS Direct nurse advisor can call them back. Patients will be able to review and amend their answers at any point and expand information on specific symptoms should they need additional help identifying them.

The app includes access to 37 health and symptom checkers covering a wide range of problems including dental pain, diarrhoea and vomiting, abdominal pain, rashes, back pain and burns. Patients can also get advice about how to relieve symptoms associated with specific conditions such as flu and hay fever. There's also the opportunity to get more specialist advice on issues such as mental health, contraception, sexual health matters and pregnancy problems.

Vicky Wood, 29, from Milton Keynes had access to the app prior to its release. She is married with two sons, Craig, seven, and Scott, 19 months. She says: "Having a young family, it's really helpful to be able to access health advice quickly. I've used the NHS Direct telephone service before, and I regularly use the online tools when I'm at home, so it was great to be able to access their advice away from home through my mobile.

“The thing I noticed straight away was how quick and easy it was to use. I found the explanations of why I was being asked certain questions really useful, and the function to expand information on certain symptoms meant that I could quickly understand anything I'd not come across before.

"I have found that rashes on the kids can look very different when they first appear to a day or so later, so being able to save the self-care advice onto my phone to refer back to on another day would give me additional reassurance and prevent me needing to seek a second opinion from my GP or walk-in centre. Although my boys are too young to have a phone, I can see how this would be very popular with my teenage niece, who wouldn't particularly want to discuss health concerns with an adult."

Roger Donald, Associate Director of Multichannel, NHS Direct, said: "The NHS Direct app has been developed in response to the popularity of this new mobile channel and to the specific needs of the growing number of patients who prefer to access health advice online.

“Patients can access rapid and convenient health advice through the app with the reassurance that the information is from a trusted source. Our online health and symptom checkers are already extremely popular and we hope that by making them mobile we will benefit more people and continue to contribute to helping take pressure off other local NHS services."

The app is available to download free of charge for Android™ devices from the Android™ market place: https://market.android.com/ (search for nhsdirect) or directly from the Android™ app store on the phone.

Application Software has been developed for the iPhone® (including the iPod Touch® and iPad® applications) and will be available to download for free from the iTunes® app store next month.

The health and symptom checkers that are available through the app are also available online at www.nhs.uk/nhsdirect.

Additionally, NHS Direct's online initial assessment symptom checker is now available on web-enabled mobile phones by typing 'mobile.nhsdirect.nhs.uk' into the phone web-browser.

People who would prefer to speak to someone, have not got internet access or think a further discussion about their symptoms is needed can still call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 any time day or night.

The development of innovative digital services is a strong focus for NHS Direct's five year business plan. Giving patients remote and virtual options to empower them and encourage self-service is identified as crucial to its ambitions to provide a more valued service to patients and to support the wider NHS.

1 Advice can be saved on to a person's phone for up to 30 days.

Apple is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

Stopping Dehydration In Hospitals - A Brilliant, Yet Simple Solution

The Hydrant - Solving the problem of reaching or holding drinks.

In healthcare one of the biggest causes of dehydration, and associated problems such as urinary tract infections and constipation, is not lack of fluid but lack of easy access to that fluid without calling for help.

Developed as a result of personal experience in hospital following an operation The Award Winning Hydrant is a simple, low cost, hands-free drinking system - that makes it easy for users to help themselves to drinks whenever they want.

The Hydrant solves the problem in a very simple way - an ingenious cap/handle/clip mechanism enables the user to hang it, hook it or clip it...almost anywhere!!

For hospitals, for care homes and for people living at home with conditions that make them bed, chair or wheelchair bound. It gives independence back to those who would otherwise need help with something as basic as getting a drink.

A study in an NHS Hospital using the Hydrant called 'Putting Dehydration to bed within the NHS' has indicated the following:

* 20% reduction in length of stay
* 97% reduction in recorded incidence of dehydration and
* 100% reduction in urinary infections through simply keeping patients correctly hydrated. Further studies and trials are now in hand
* If replicated nationally it could save the NHS £5 Billion per year

"It has hugely improved the quality of life for our patients and as such The Hydrant should be a standard part of any hospital's armour in the battle against dehydration" Liz Evans, Nutrition Nurse Specialist, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Chair of the National Nurses Nutritional Group

Jim Easton, NHS National Director for Improvement and Efficiency, in a Keynote speech at the recent Healthcare Innovation Expo in London said: "The Hydrant......cheap, easy to implement, tackling the most basic problem. Potentially one of the ideas with the highest return to investment ratio I have ever seen'

The South Central Strategic Health Authority at the same Expo has calculated that:

'Every £1 spent on The Hydrant saves £16'

Available via NHS Supply Chain (code UMT004) and 'daily living aid' companies

www.hydrateforhealth.co.uk Email info@hydrateforhealth.co.uk

Midsummer's Eve Walk In Regent's Park For Herbal Medicine Week

Camden-based herbalist Paula Grainger will lead a herbal walk through Regent's Park on Midsummer's Eve 21st June to celebrate Herbal Medicine Week.

The walk will start at 6.30 at the Royal College of Physicians in the park, and will last approximately two hours. During the walk Paula will show participants the huge variety of medicinal herbs growing wild and unnoticed all around us.

Paula Grainger said about the planned walk: "We will be discovering the incredible treasury of medicinal herb plants nestled in the corner of one of London's most beautiful parks and learning about the folklore associated with them and their modern uses in the Herbal apothecary."

Tickets for the walk cost £10 with £5 concessions.

Further details from lemonbalmonline@mac.com

Update on E. coli outbreak in Germany

The Food Standards Agency is now providing further information in relation to the tragic E. coli outbreak that is taking place in Germany which has now claimed at least ten lives.

The Agency can confirm that the German authorities have identified a source of the outbreak as being organic cucumbers from two provinces in Spain (Almeria and Malaga), with a third suspected source of cucumbers originating in the Netherlands. There is currently no evidence that any affected organic cucumbers from the sources identified have been distributed to the UK.

What you can do to protect yourself and your family?
It's a good idea to wash fruit and vegetables before you eat them to ensure that they are clean, and to help remove germs that might be on the outside. Peeling or cooking fruit and vegetables can also remove these germs.

Haemolytic uraemic syndrome is a serious complication of some types of E. coli infection. This outbreak has been associated with a rare strain of E.coli (O104).

For the latest updates visit www.food.gov.uk

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Bupa care homes' residents have their watering cans at the ready as they prepare to 'grow their own' for 'Community Crops'

'Community Crops' is a Bupa care homes initiative which promotes the health benefits associated with gardening and growing your own fruit and veg.

The project is being supported by young people involved with The Prince's Trust, who are working with Bupa homes, including nursing care homes, across the UK to help sow and grow the crops.

Residents have also been inviting local schools and community groups to lend a hand with planting and start their own vegetable plots.

Caroline Davy, Bupa's community affairs assistant, said: "This is a great way for our residents to appreciate the fresh air, stay active and get a real sense of achievement by tending to the crops and watching them grow.

"For our residents who were keen gardeners before they joined us, 'Community Crops' offers a great opportunity to get involved in gardening again, but it also helps minds as well as bodies.

Particularly for our residents receiving dementia care, sharing stories about 'dig for victory' and the tradition of growing your own are excellent memory triggers to aid connections with the past."

Helen Thurston, from The Prince's Trust added: "'The Community Crops' campaign is a fantastic project which provides our Prince's Trust XL club members with the opportunity to get involved with their local community. It enables young people to engage in a positive way with a different generation and learn about the importance of healthy eating."

Altogether, the Community Crops campaign has taken root in gardens and greenhouses in over 300 care homes across the UK.


Bupa Care Services runs 305 nursing and residential homes in the UK and cares for almost 18,500 people. Its homes are open to everyone - with over 70 percent of UK residents receiving state funding. It offers Alzheimer's Society-trained Dementia Champions in its UK specialist care homes and over 25% of its beds in the UK are registered for specialist dementia care. Bupa Care Services employs over 27,000 people and owns care homes in Spain, Australia, and New Zealand.

Bupa's purpose is to help people lead longer, healthier, happier lives. A leading international healthcare group, it offers personal and company health insurance, run care homes for older people and hospitals, and provide workplace health services, health assessments and chronic disease management services, including health coaching, and home healthcare.

With no shareholders, Bupa invests its profits to provide more and better healthcare.  It is committed to making quality, patient-centred, affordable healthcare more accessible in the areas of wellness, chronic disease management and ageing.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Serious Law have the expertise needed in a brain injury solicitor

It is sad to say but, in many cases, brain trauma is caused as a result of the negligence of someone else. Somebody, somewhere, just did not think, and someone else has to pay the price for their negligence.

If you or your loved one has suffered this type of injury it is important to seek expert representation in this area to make an accident claim.

Serious Law have over 20 years experience in this area and ensure their clients are kept informed of the process and supported every step of the way. Serious Law have many factors which make them ideal to represent in such cases.

Firstly they are accredited by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and have won many substantial compensation awards for their clients totalling several million pounds. They employ accommodation specialists to advise on adaptations to homes and vehicles of those who are injured, and importantly they have access to 24 hour nursing care to support those affected.

Serious Law solicitors do not stop supporting their clients even when they have won a case, they provide a lifetime of support and help to ensure your future is protected after an injury which was not your fault.

If you have suffered a brain injury in an accident then start getting the assistance and brain injury compensation you deserve by contacting Serious Law on 0800 61 66 81.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Testing... Testing...

When times change, we must change with them. Now we have easy to use, portable blood test machines to help us control our diabetes. But more than the actual mechanics of just doing a test, there is little point unless we know what to do with the information you gain as a result.

It can be hard to remember sometimes, but you are more than just a number! With the arrival of the capacity for people with diabetes to do daily blood testing, it might seem that you spend your life looking at little screens with numbers on that seem to judge you on a small but often stressful way.

Be in no doubt, the ability to do your own tests (to self-monitor your blood glucose levels) is a very important tool in your own self-management. But as machines get cleverer and do more things for you, it's possible to feel a little left behind. More to the point, if all you see are 'bad numbers', then it's very hard to keep up the motivation to keep testing.

Not all diabetics are encouraged to test, but there are some clear guidelines laid down. Put simply, diabetics on insulin should be testing daily, while Type 2 diabetics need not test unless they want to or there is a good reason for them to do so. Some people are encouraged not to test, and I even hear stories about (and have experienced myself) doctors suggesting that someone with diabetes reduce how often they test order to save the NHS some money.

In March 2010 NHS Diabetes published a report on self-monitoring of blood glucose (SMBG) for people with Type 2 diabetes which stated, "The data from clinical trials show that in patients treated by lifestyle modification or oral agents, SMBG with appropriate education and clear objectives leads to an improvement in blood glucose control. The improvements in blood glucose control when SMBG is used without education and clear objectives are so small as to be of doubtful clinical benefit."

In keeping with the recommendations contained within NICE Clinical Guideline, it was suggested that SMBG should only be provided routinely to people with Type 2 diabetes not treated with insulin or sulphonylureas (pill meditation such as Metformin) where there is an agreed purpose or goal to testing and that "Individuals with non-insulin treated diabetes who are motivated by SMBG activity and use the information to maximise the effect of lifestyle and medication should be encouraged to continue to monitor."

NICE also recommended that people with Type 2 diabetes should expect to have their long-term glucose control checked every 2-6 months - this HbA1c result will give an indication of the overall blood glucose level over previous months [see additional info on HbA1c on p.11].

The report also acknowledged that patients should be shown how to interpret their results and how to use these results to make any appropriate lifestyle changes, "This has the potential to improve both the quality and the efficiency of blood glucose self-monitoring." By Sue Marshal.

Dr William Polonksy was the principal investigator of the Structured Testing Program study (STeP) the results of which were published in February 2011 in Diabetes Care.

He comments, "The HbA1c has been perceived as the gold standard for monitoring glycaemic control for a long time, but it does not provide information about the peaks and troughs in blood glucose levels during the day."

The STeP study used 12 months of data based on using SMBG (the self-monitoring of blood glucose), which is an established part of therapy for diabetics on insulin but in this case was applied to people with Type 2 not on insulin (but who may have been on other medications). They were asked to test several times a day for three days only. Then they repeated this activity each month, with a review with their doctor of the results every three months.

ONE STEP AHEAD "Diabetes and its resulting secondary complications are a significant and growing burden on individuals, society and national healthcare system," says Polonsky, "At the same time, healthcare budgets for individual care are being continually eroded. We must therefore redefine our strategies for management diabetes and use the available resources more effectively."

He points out that one of the best ways is more blood testing with well-designed data capture, "Blood glucose data should provide immediate feedback about the effects of food choices, activity, and medication on glycaemic control. It is crucial for people with diabetes to understand the close link between their lifestyles and behaviour and their metabolic responses. Most of the participants in the STeP study agreed that seeing how their behaviour actually affected their blood sugars motivated them to take on more responsibility for their condition and to change their lifestyle."

The other side of the fence is the experience of the healthcare professionals (HCPs, whether doctors or nurses). It's known that 90% of doctors do not download blood test data. Clearly, blood testing needs to be easy to do and to review, for both patients and HCPs. The STeP study showed that most of the physicians welcomed these changes in patient behaviour and found that their patients were more willing to participate in managing their condition. Says Polonsky, "As patients became more acquainted with using the meters they found that the tool actually reduced consultation time. Most of the physicians found that the detailed profiles gave them a better sense of how and what medication to prescribe."

Dr Satish Garg, also involved in the study, notes that, "the global diabetes epidemic requires immediate action. At present, some 50% of those people currently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes fail to effectively manage their blood glucose levels. Looking at HbA1c is not enough as it shows only long-term glycaemic control over three months and doesn't reflect the important daily (and hourly) fluctuations.

It does not demonstrate to people with diabetes when and they their blood glucose values rise or fall, and it does not tell them how to react in order to correct them." For the healthcare system he says, "Structured SMBG also gives healthcare professionals the accurate data they need to recommend effective therapy changes.

Whereas a high HbA1c value merely indicates that a change in therapy is needed, structured SMBG instructs HCPs exactly what changes to make." Lat est result s Speaking on behalf of Roche, which sponsored the study, Franz Walt says, "For the patient, the focus must be on individual diabetes management; for the doctor, on the effective therapy management based on accurate information and data.

“Taking responsibility for their own therapy is a cornerstone in modern diabetes therapy, and blood glucose values obtained by the patient according to the structured testing concept form the foundation for the essential and information doctor-patient dialogue." Being able to discuss data might also help you address what could be termed 'clinical inertia' - when it's agreed, 'let's not do anything at the moment'. It's not just the testing, but the quality of what you DO with it.

If you can see the impact of behaviour or medication on your blood test results then you're more likely to keep to the programme.

LIVING › seeing how their behaviour actually affected their blood sugars motivated them to take on more responsibility for their condition and to change their lifestyle Dr. W. Polonsky There are two issues regarding blood testing for people with type 2 diabetes.

First is access to strips on prescription.

Because strips are seen as costly, and with the NHS facing cuts (as always), strips for Type 2s have been targeted as a way of cutting back. That means that people who want to test are being held back from doing so.

Second is a bizarre belief that because blood testing can be unpleasant (apparently) and that people might find it hard to do, that they need not bother.

OK, so not many people WANT to stab themselves in the finger, no matter what the reason, so Type 2s can be forgiven for not 'wanting' to, but that does not mean that they shouldn't.

There's several pharmaceutical companies looking to help Type 2s test more, and a few online pharmacies that have spotted the trend who are offering simple, cost-effective meters and strips so that you can buy them if you want them and forego the hassle of dealing with an unyielding GP.

Among the many blood test meters out there, some are aimed at those with Type 2 diabetes with some added features for those who test infrequently or who do not have to use carb-counting to help control their condition.

For example, the OneTouch VITA from Lifescan (http://bit.ly/Lifescan_Vita) can help users link the effects of food to their blood glucose level. It is particularly recommended for Type 2 diabetics on insulin as it can also help to show how food choices affect their blood glucose levels. Increased awareness of this on the part of the patient should lead to greater control of their diabetes.

Among the meters and strips that are more easily available online are those for the Wavesense Jazz (www.arcticmedical.co.uk) and IME-DC meter (http://bit.ly/Desang_IME-DC). Other meters are widely available from chemists - you can chat to your pharmacist about costs per pot of sensors. A very rough guide is about 70p per strip. Yes, that adds up if you're testing five times a day, seven days a week - that's two pots of 25 strips every two weeks. But if you're testing once a day for three days a week, then you might think it a seriously good investment in your longterm health.

● People don't blood test because they (often understandably) don't see the point of doing it. As Polonsky explains the results, "We not only saw improvements in blood glucose control but in well-being too. Those who tested understood the numbers, felt their interaction with their GP was useful and generally felt less stressed about having diabetes. They could perceive the usefulness of treatment as they saw evidence that the changes were making a difference." That's the point.


Dr. William Polonsky, Associate Clinical Professor in Psychiatry, University of California. Author of Diabetes Burnout: What to do when you can't take it anymore. Founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute www.behavioraldiabetes.org STeP study was sponsored by Roche and utilised the Accu-Chek 360 view tool.

Dr. Satish Garg, Professor of Medicine and Paediatrics, Young Adult Clinic Barbara Davis Centre for Diabetes, University of Colorado School of Medicine. Editor-in-chief of Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Garlic - a recommended natural step in the fight against heart disease

Following the publication of research from the Wolfson Institute at Barts Hospital and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry stating that offering treatment for heart disease to all those over 55 with statins and blood pressure pills would achieve the same results as screening through tests like blood pressure or cholesterol.

Dr Hilary Jones comments, “Professor Nicholas Wald’s report sets the age of 55 as the main predictor of heart disease. It is very important to also look at each individual patient’s circumstance and to consider the well publicised risk factors – overweight, blood pressure, diabetes and smoking. There is also a real concern over side effects: Indigestion, muscle pain and flatulence.

"These side effects are common and probably underestimated and it is thought you would have to treat a 100 people with statins to save just two lives. Undoubtedly there will be benefits for a few but many would experience unpleasant adverse reactions unnecessarily. Nor would it be desirable to abandon screening for high risk patients under 55 either.

"My recommendation is to consider lifestyle changes including lowering stress, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and adopting a healthy eating regime. Simple steps, such as including garlic in your daily routine has to be a better option than having half the population taking unnecessary pharmaceuticals,” comments Dr Hilary Jones. Other experts also acknowledge the circulatory benefits of garlic supplements.

Which Garlic Supplement to use?

Almost every clinical trial has shown that garlic extracts support heart health. That’s because the proven key compound, allicin, is only found in fresh and dried garlic.

Kwai is the original dried garlic supplement . Over 30 independent clinical studies and 190 published scientific papers show that it supports cardiovascular health.It provides the powerful benefits of garlic—without the smell.

Kwai’s suggested daily dose provides 1800mg of allicin — garlic’s most beneficial compound.

The Kwai garlic tablet features an inner core consisting of exclusive LI 111 pure garlic clove powder which undergoes analytical testing to assure the release of allicin, garlic's most beneficial compound.

Kwai's special coating ensures the freshness and intensity of the garlic and protects against odour.

Kettlebell Training During Pregnancy

4 Months Post Baby after Kettlebells
By Lauren Brooks Miller

"Being in ultimate shape during your pregnancy will significantly lessen the chance of needing an invasive surgery".

"Do not let your heart rate get past 140bpm!" "Don't lift anything heavier than 10kg!" This is exactly the out of date misinformation that doctors or nurses have advised pregnant women in the past. These are the type of misconceptions which can quickly instil fear and uncertainty when it comes to exercising during pregnancy. Then the pregnant mum ends up doing almost nothing, gaining 40kg, getting depressed and creating complications down the line. There are numerous studies all over the world proving the undeniable benefits that sticking to a training regime, designed for your fitness level, not only has remarkable benefits for yourself, but for your baby.

To make a blanket statement and tell every pregnant woman to have the same guidelines is basically stating we are all exactly the same. Lucky things are starting to change. ACOG (American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) has revised the guidelines and is now telling women to measure their intensity with the RPE (Rated Perceived Exertion) scale rather than concentrate too much on heart rate, since no one person has the same fitness level. On a scale from 1 - 10 ACOG recommends women should keep their intensity between 5 - 8 during pregnancy. If you currently engage in a resistance training program and your doctor says you should not do anything more than walking, without a valid reason, it's probably time to find a new doctor or care provider that is familiar with the current research.

Who wouldn't want to give their baby a healthy start? Women who have been through labour and/or recovered from having a C-section, know that there is nothing easy about it. Preparing your body for one of the most physical and emotional events in one's life is the most important thing you can do for yourself and baby. I don't know too many women that actually want to have a C-section. Being in ultimate shape during your pregnancy will significantly lessen the chance of needing an invasive surgery. Although, if the baby is breech or there are complications such as placenta previa, you have to have a Caesarean. But never fear, if you kept your body strong, you can and will recover quickly and eventually regain your strength. Unfortunately I was one of the unlucky ones that had no choice in the matter and ended up with a C-section both times, due to reasons I could not prevent. Nevertheless, I have surpassed my strength and fitness goals after each pregnancy in record time.

Today I am sharing with you some of the most common questions and answers I receive from my pregnant clients or their personal trainers.

Question: - I am brand new to kettlebells and I just found out I am pregnant. Can I continue to use them?

If you have already learned some of the basic exercises and are sure you are using them properly, there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to continue with the exercises.

Question: - I have never used kettlebells before and I am 6 weeks pregnant. Would it be safe for me to start using them?

Because your body has never experienced this type of movement pattern, it's not recommended to start during pregnancy. You can go through the motions without a kettlebell without the explosive components. Although, when it comes to the full explosive hip power, you should wait until after you have your baby.

Question: - I've been taking kettlebell classes and working out to kettlebell DVD's for over a year. Can I continue with it now that I am pregnant?

As long as you have the okay to exercise from your doctor, you should be able to do almost everything you are currently doing, during your first trimester. The only thing you will want to eliminate is V02Max Training. Now is not the time to perform a challenging snatch test or test your body to the limit. All out Tabata drills or trying to beat your current pull up record should absolutely be avoided.

Question: - I'm in my 2nd trimester, feel great, and my pregnancy is going smoothly. Can I continue with the same routine I had during my first trimester?

Yes with a few exceptions. Once your belly gets larger around 16 - 20 weeks, you are going to have to make some adjustments. You will have to eliminate exercises that have you lying directly on your back such as Floor Presses, Get Ups and Sit Ups. Twisting and pressurizing your breath is not advised. Twisting exercises such as the Windmill and any exercises that require you to lay flat on your belly should be completely eliminated. Other than that you can continue with your training.

Question: - I am confused as to how to design my program. Should I aim for long workouts that are easier or short workouts that are more intense?

Short workouts that are more intense will give you more bang for your buck. Long workouts can tire you out afterwards and really leave you even more winded than before you began. Keeping the workouts short without overheating will give you that recharge of energy your body will desperately need to possibly do another mini workout later that same day. Or tend to other activities that you are involved with.

Question: - Can I use kettlebells to the very end of my pregnancy?

Absolutely! You will definitely have to modify the weight that you use and scale down many of the exercises. Remember you should not practice any pressurized breathing, therefore, pressing heavy weight overhead should be prohibited. If you were proficient with Snatches prior to pregnancy, then you should be able to snatch a comfortable bell over your head. Swings, Squats, Cleans, Rows, knee push ups, and Presses are usually great exercises to continue as long as the body allows and are able.

Sample Kettlebell Pregnancy Workout

Start with a 5 - 10 minutes joint mobility warm up. Set your timer for 30 seconds. Take a 30 second break in between each exercise. Repeat this circuit 2 - 5 times depending on your current fitness level.

Suitcase Dead Lifts
2 Handed Swings
Push Ups
Squats to Tricep Extension
Hand 2 Hand Swings
Push Press (Left)
Push Press (Right)

Cool Down with light walking and stretching

If you have any more questions about program design you can check out my pregnancy DVD "Baby Bells". You will find a follow along workout that is appropriate for all stages of pregnancy with modifications. The most important thing is to really listen to your body. Your body will be the best judge. Follow the guidelines and let your body do the rest.

Lauren Brooks Miller is the owner of On The Edge Fitness and Co-owner of BuggyBellz. She is the creator of the worldwide selling DVD's "The Ultimate Body Sculpt and Conditioning with Kettlebells" Volume 1, 2 and 3. Her 2nd DVD "Baby Bells", is the first and only Kettlebell video, designed specifically for pregnant woman. Lauren is a full-time working mother of 2 beautiful young girls. Her passion for leading a healthy and active life is an inspiration for mothers, parents, and woman everywhere.

To purchase any of Lauren's Products or for more information about kettlebells, visit Kettlebell Fever , the official UK home of Dragon Door RKC kettlebells – the UK’s premier resource for everything kettlebell related. Alternatively contact support@kettlebellfever.com.

(EDITOR: As with all exercise regimens That's Health advises you to consult your doctor and other healthcare experts before you commence any training if you are pregnant)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Independent Rehab Recommendation Service for Addicts Launches Online

AddictionHelper.com, a new independent online addiction service, has been launched. It will pioneer ethically-bound, impartial treatment for those affected by alcohol, drug, gambling addictions and eating disorders. Created by addiction specialists Recovery Healthcare, the site is supported by a team of trained counsellors who can be contacted 24 hours a day for free, confidential advice and assessment. The ultimate aim of Addiction Helper is to find addicts the best possible treatment.

There is a growing market for the service offered by Addiction Helper; over 100,000 people search online for help with addiction in the UK alone each year (keyword research courtesy of Market Appeal).

Addiction Helper is backed by leading counsellors and therapists in the fields of addiction, alcoholism and eating disorders. They have extensive relationships with the most renowned Care Commission Quality approved treatment centres in the UK, including the rehab clinic that successfully treated Russell Brand for the addiction, which threatened to destroy his career. If you’d rather have treatment in a more exotic location, Addiction Helper works with rehab clinics surrounded by breathtaking scenery in countries such as South Africa, Thailand and the United States.

Addiction Helper isn’t just about getting addicts into residential rehab. It’s about finding them the most suitable treatment for their addiction and their circumstances, whether that’s outpatient programmes, counselling, therapy or local support groups. Jake is a recovering alcoholic.

He says, “I’d been drinking heavily for about 12 years and was getting more and more depressed. I knew I needed help but I couldn’t take an extended period off work. They arranged a residential detox for me which I took as holiday. They then organised outpatient treatment, based around the 12 step abstinence approach, in the evenings. I successfully completed the programme and am delighted to say that, with the continued support of Alcoholics Anonymous, I’m now sober and healthy.”

Addiction Helper also provides much-needed support for the family and friends of addicts. One of the founders Daniel Gerrard says, “We educate people on the illness that is addiction and help them to understand it. Addiction Helper has all the information required by those affected by addiction in one place, impartially and independently.”

Formed by a group of recovering addicts and healthcare professionals, Addiction Helper addresses the need for help that’s independent and transparent. Daniel says, “What addicts need is a service they can trust. That’s why we are launching AddictionHelper.com. Our service is totally impartial, and we are independently audited. We are not affiliated to any one rehab clinic and we don’t make unethical deals with clinics to get us higher commission for more referrals.”

If you’re concerned that you or someone close to you is suffering from an addiction, visit addictionhelper.com or call freephone 0800 44 88 288.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Nutritionist challenges over-simplified nutrition information as a threat to overall consumer health

The Department of Health’s voluntary Responsibility Deal will require signatories including Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, ASDA, Compass Group, Premier Foods, Mars and Unilever to include prominent calorie labelling on all their food packaging from September this year.

Nutritionist Kate Cook is concerned at the impact this will have on consumers’ ability to make good overall choices for their dietary health. This in turn could affect the popularity and sales of key lines for the food and retail sector.

She explains what she perceives as a problem with this: “While some high calorie foods are empty of nutritional value, others have significant benefits in the daily diet. Conversely, some low calorie foods don’t deliver all they promise. For example, salmon is high in fat but contains vital omega 3 and protein. In a regime where only calories count, it ranks alongside low quality junk food, potentially being rejected as 'unhealthy'.

"Yet conversely, some 'diet' range sandwiches are very low in calories but encourage unstable blood sugar and don’t provide enough energy, leading to snacking and weight gain. A higher calorie alternative could be a better choice for sustainable weight loss.”

Kate Cook’s consultancy focuses on helping food retailers, manufacturers and restaurants convey a more balanced message about the nutritional value of their products. As well as analysing calorie information, she evaluates and explains the micro-nutrient and fat content.

She points out: “Brands need to communicate more helpful health and nutrition information to sustain customer confidence. This one-dimensional approach could pose new risks to the public’s health. There’s an opportunity for businesses across the food industry to provide more complete guidance that puts calorie labelling in context. Of course the challenge is doing so in a simple and authoritative way that customers will understand and act on to the overall benefit of their health.”

Kate Cook doesn’t dispute that the government health Responsibility Deal is a worthwhile initiative, with its broad aim of encouraging healthier lifestyles for the British public through a range of dietary and exercise measures. And she finds it easy to see why the government has chosen to focus on calorie counting. “Many consumers understand the measure because it’s been associated with popular diets and weight loss for decades.

But she feels that consuming enough micronutrients and 'good' fats is also of vital importance for good health. Without them, humans still suffer from conditions like scurvy and rickets which most of us assume have been consigned to the history books. Cases of both have recently been reported in the UK. And for weight loss, it’s so important to balance blood sugar throughout the day to avoid the peaks and troughs that lead to hunger pangs and bingeing, one of the main causes of obesity.

Kate Cook recommends retailers and brands develop and champion credible messages so customers can make informed choices about how to get all the macro- and micro-nutrients they need each day. To help your brands, individual products or meals to avoid losing share because of an incomplete picture of nutritional value, she suggests:

1. Provide relevant nutrition facts on packaging that help customers relate their choices to their lifestyle goals

2. Include micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) info as well as macronutrients (calories, protein, fat) on menu and product breakdowns and explain the benefits

3. Create nutritious menus for specific dietary needs, including weight loss, gluten or dairy free and mood boosting or high energy requirements

4. Develop consistent messages across all your PR, marketing, packaging and campaigns so your health headlines are always clear and focused.