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Heart attack patients missing out on rehab, charity warns

New research from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found the average uptake of cardiac rehabilitation was 51 per cent, or 68,500 people, in 2015/16. 

This means that just under half of patients are missing out on a rehabilitation programme which can cut their risk of readmission and premature death, the charity said. 

The programme offers patients physical, emotional and lifestyle support, including exercise classes and dietary advice, to help them lower their risk of a future heart event. 

Previous studies have shown that participation reduces the risk of dying by 18 per cent in the six to 12 months following referral and can cut readmissions by nearly a third. 

Researchers from the University of York analysed data from hundreds of rehabilitation centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Their findings, published in the BHF's national audit of cardiac rehab, also found a disparity between the numbers of men and women receiving care, with 52 per cent of eligible men taking part in a rehab programme compared to just 44 per cent of eligible women. 

"It is hugely encouraging that, overall, more patients are accessing cardiac rehabilitation services but half of heart attack survivors are still missing out on this potentially life-saving service," said BHF chief executive Simon Gillespie. 

"Tens of thousands of people are therefore at greater risk of suffering another deadly heart attack. 

"As many women as men have heart attacks, so it is particularly concerning that significantly fewer women are accessing these life-saving services. 

"A postcode lottery of care is also evident with dangerous waiting times to access services in some areas of the country. 

"This urgently needs to be addressed so that every patient has access to cardiac rehabilitation to improve their physical and mental wellbeing."



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Do you have the symptoms of type 2 diabetes? Two easy ways to test for the condition

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes after type 1, but people with prediabetes - a condition that puts people at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes - don’t often know they have it. 

Many people who have type 2 diabetes don’t often realise because symptoms don’t necessarily make you feel unwell. 

The NHS lists some more noticeable symptoms: 

  • Feeling vert thirsty 
  • Passing urine more often than usual, particularly at night
  • Feeling very tired 
  • Weight loss and loss of muscle bulk 

But if the lifelong condition is left untreated, it can lead to damaged blood vessels, nerves and organs.

So how can you test for type 2 diabetes? 

The NHS outlines two tests for diabetes - the glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c) test and the glucose tolerance test. 

Glycated haemoglobin test 

The test tells you your average level of blood sugar over the past two to three months. 

It can be carried out at any day and doesn’t require any special preparation, but can’t be used in certain situations, such as during pregnancy. 

Your blood may be taken from a vein in your arm or, in some cases, a drop of blood from a finger-prick may be used. 

Glucose tolerance test 

This test determines where your body is having problems processing glucose. 

Before having the test you’ll be asked not to eat or drink certain fluids for eight to 12 hours. 

You may also need to avoid taking certain medications before the test, as they may affect the results. 

Similar to the glycated haemoglobin test, a blood sample is taken and your blood glucose will be measured. 

You’ll then be given a sweet glucose drink, and two hours later your blood glucose will be measured again. 

The results of the test will indicate whether you have impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes. 

Diabetes patients could control their blood glucose levels by eating eggs, a nutritionist has claimed. 

“As a naturally low fat, low carb food which is also rich in protein, eggs are a great choice when you need to control your blood sugar levels, as part of a healthy balanced diet,” said nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton.

“The benefits of eggs in diabetes diets have been ignored for too long, in part because of misplaced fears about their cholesterol content.

“Now we know that foods which contain cholesterol are not the problem for most individuals – rather it is high calorie diets rich in certain saturated fats, combined with inactivity and genetics.”



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Aussie flu PREVENTION: Fight off symptoms of deadly virus by eating this fermented food

Aussie flu - the H3N2 strain of the virus - is just one of the strains of the influenza virus that has been affecting millions of people around the world this year. 

After causing problems in Australia during its winter, 85 people in the UK are reported to have died from flu since the beginning of October, and almost 2,000 people have been hospitalised. 

Now, Aussie flu is quickly spreading across the US, with New York City one of 26 states reporting high flu levels in outpatient clinics.

So how can you avoid catching the virus? 

Nutritionist Natalie Lamb from Bio-Kult has revealed the things you should eat and do to help in the fight against Aussie flu. 

Consume fermented foods 

Many people aren’t aware that up to 70 per cent of our immune cells are located in the gut and that our gut bacteria plays an essential role in supporting a strong immune system. This can be compromised during the winter months if it’s busy fighting off bugs. Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir and sauerkraut could help to balance the gut flora to support the gut immune system. 

Eat well

Nutrients such as zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium are well known for supporting the immune system. Try to eat a range of colourful vegetables which should provide a mix of these and other essential nutrients, delicious in warming soups and stews.

Reduce simple sugars and refined carbohydrates

Reduce simple sugars and refined carbohydrates, such as breads, pasta, biscuits and cakes that are known to feed unwanted bacteria and yeast in the gut, encouraging their growth over beneficial immune supporting strains. 

Consume good quality protein

Instead choose good quality protein sources such as grass fed meat, fish, free range eggs and legumes which are the building blocks for many immune cells and are delicious slow cooked. 

Cook with herbs

Culinary herbs such as garlic, sage, rosemary and thyme are reputed to have immune boosting and antimicrobial benefits. 

Pop a probiotic

For those who don’t have time to ferment, multi-strain probiotics are a more convenient way to rebalance the gut flora and support the immune system to work effectively.  Probiotics such as Bio-Kult Advanced 14-strain have been shown to significantly shorten common colds and reduce the severity of symptoms.

Take a Vitamin D supplement

As vitamin D stored in fat cells will begin to be used up by January/February time, it may be important to provide a little extra support through supplementation over the winter months. Interestingly probiotic supplements have been shown to increase vitamin D levels too.

Not reaching straight for the antibiotics and getting a good night’s sleep are also key in the fight against Aussie flu, according to Natalie. 

She said: “Remember, conditions such as coughs, colds, sore throats and flu rarely require antibiotics. Antibiotics are not individual bacteria specific so they can alter your natural microflora; the bacteria that naturally live in and on the human body. This can cause impaired immunity, thrush and antibiotic associated diarrhoea. 

“Importantly, overuse of antibiotics in inappropriate situations encourages the growth of resistant bacteria. If you do succumb to a virus, ensure you get plenty of rest and try to treat symptoms with warm, soothing vitamin C rich drinks.

“Allowing yourself adequate rest and a good night’s sleep is imperative for rejuvenation and healing.  Our bodies work best when we keep our daily routine to a regular circadian rhythm; avoid stimulants late at night, and capture your best night sleep between 10pm and 6am.”

What should you do if you do become infected? 



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Resting heart rate: What should it be? Abnormally fast rate is a sign of this condition

As well as being a good way to track your fitness, regularly checking your resting heart rate can alert you to a potential health issue. 

Generally a lower heart rate implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. 

But an abnormally fast heart rate is known as superaventricular tachycardia, which can cause chest pain, dizziness, light-headedness and breathlessness. 

So what should your resting heart rate be? 

Resting heart rate - what it should be

According to the NHS, most adults have a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute. 

It says: “The fitter you are, the lower your resting heart rate is likely to be. For example, athletes may have a resting heart rate of 40 to 60 bpm or lower. 

“You should contact your GP if you think your heart rate is continuously above 120bpm or below 40bpm, although this could just be normal for you.” 

How to measure your heart rate?

You can work out your heart rate by finding your pulse - your wrist or neck are usually the best places. 

To find your pulse in your wrist: 

Hold out now of your hands, with your palm facing upwards and your elbow slightly bent

Put the first finger (index) and middle finger of your other hand on the inside of your wrist, at the base of your thumb

Press your skin lightly until you can feel your pulse - if you can’t feel anything, you may need to press a little harder or move your fingers around. 

To find your pulse in your neck, press the same two fingers on the side of your neck in the soft hollow area just beside your windpipe. 

What is supraventricular tachycardia? 

The condition is an abnormally fast heart rate of over 100 heartbeats a minute. 

It isn’t life-threatening, and symptoms may not always show. 

But if they do, Bupa lists the signs to look out for: 

  • Palpitations (a thumping in your chest) 
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Chest pain 
  • Blackouts (although this isn’t common) 

If you experience any symptoms you should contact your GP as soon as possible. 

These are five things your resting heart rate can tell you about your health. 



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Aussie flu symptoms: What’s the difference between the deadly virus and a cold?

Aussie flu has swept across the UK, and the number of cases continues to rise, Public Health England has warned.

While the infectious condition and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses, they are caused by different viruses, and has subtle changes to symptoms.

Flu symptoms tend to be more severe than the cold, and people with a cold are more likely to have a runny or congested nose.

Pneumonia and other complications that also come as a result of the flu, and is much less likely to develop after a cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP).

“Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone,” said the CDCP.

“In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense.

“Special tests that usually must be done within the first few days of illness can tell if a person has the flu.”

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue, the CDCP said.

If you’re unsure whether you have a cold or the flu, there’s a simple trick to tell the difference.

Dr Ranj Singh suggested using a £20 note to help you decide.

“A silly test to differentiate between cold and flu would be to leave a £20 note on the floor,” he told The Mirror.

“The person with a cold will pick up the money, but the person with the flu won’t even care that it’s there.”

While flu is the next stage up from a common cold, Aussie flu has been described as the next stage up from the flu.

Symptoms of the deadly infection include vomiting, diarrhoea, a chesty cough and difficulty sleeping.

About 500 people have been hospitalised with the Aussie flu virus, H3N2, since the beginning of the winter season.

If you think you may have Aussie flu, you’re advised to stay at home and drink plenty of fluids. See a GP if you’re over 65, are pregnant, or have an underlying health condition.



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Diabetes type 2: Eating just two of these everyday could help to reduce symptoms

Diabetes patients could control their blood glucose levels by eating eggs, a nutritionist has claimed.

Eating eggs could also help them to lower their blood pressure, and to lose a significant amount of weight, studies have revealed.

Just two eggs a day was enough to benefit blood sugar levels, and to help patients cut their blood pressure.

There are almost 3.6 million people in the UK that have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to charity Diabetes UK.

“As a naturally low fat, low carb food which is also rich in protein, eggs are a great choice when you need to control your blood sugar levels, as part of a healthy balanced diet,” said nutritionist Dr Carrie Ruxton.

“The benefits of eggs in diabetes diets have been ignored for too long, in part because of misplaced fears about their cholesterol content.

“Now we know that foods which contain cholesterol are not the problem for most individuals – rather it is high calorie diets rich in certain saturated fats, combined with inactivity and genetics.”

Eggs could also lower the risk of heart disease, studies have revealed.

They can reduce the risk of cataracts in the eye, as well as macular degeneration.

Liver function could be improved by eating more eggs, as it’s rich in the macronutrient choline.

Eggs contain five of the eight best nutrients that help to fight, and lower the risk of skin cancer.

Diabetes type 2 symptoms include a dry mouth, blurred vision and headaches.

The condition is caused by the pancreas not producing enough of the hormone insulin, or by the body not reacting to insulin.

Insulin is used to control the amount of glucose in the blood.

You’re more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you’re overweight, over the age of 40, or have a family history of the condition.



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Aussie flu WARNING: Deadly virus now rife in USA - map reveals worst hit states

Aussie flu is just one of the strains of the influenza virus that has been affecting millions of people around the world this year. 

The H3N2 strain was given the nickname ‘Aussie flu’ after it caused problems in Australia during its winter. 

Since the beginning of October, flu has been spreading through the UK, and with reports areas of the USA are now suffering, experts have described the outbreak as one of the worst epidemics since Spanish flu. 

Aussie flu in the US has compounded the damage usually wrought by the annual flu outbreak, according to Bloomberg. 

But which areas in the US have been most affected? 

A map produced by FluView has revealed the states worst hit by the virus. 

Brown indicates where flu is widespread, orange where there are regional cases, yellow where there’s just local activity, brown and white where cases are sporadic, orange and white for no activity and white for no reports. 

According to the map, flu is widespread across mainland USA as well as Alaska. 

Hawaii and Guam have had regional activity, the District of Columbia local activity, and the US Virgin Islands has had sporadic cases. 

As of the week ending January 6, Puerto Rico is yet to have any cases of influenza reported. 

Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division at the national Centre for Immunisation and Respiratory Diseases, told Bloomberg: “Flu is everywhere in the US right now. This is the first year we have had the entire continental US be the same colour on the graph, meaning there is widespread activity in all of the continental US at this point.”

In the UK 85 people have died from flu since the beginning of October, Public Health England revealed in a report last week. 

A Flusurvey map shows a gradient from no reported influenza-like illness (blue), to very high reports of influenza-like illness (red). 

As of Wednesday morning, the North-East of England was the most affected area.

Other locations across the UK that are in the red include:

 • Cornwall and West Devon,

 • Aberdeen, Scotland

 • Dundee, Scotland

 • Leeds, England

 • Ipswich, England

 • Derby, England

 • Cardiff, Wales

Llandrindod Wells, Wales, was the least affected area. Blackburn, Walsall and North London were also in the blue.

But, There are significantly more red zones than reported on Friday January 5.

Symptoms of Aussie flu have been described as similar to those caused by normal flu, but more severe. 

The NHS outlines nine flu symptoms: 

  • A sudden fever - a temperature of 38C or above 
  • Aching body 
  • Feeling tired or exhausted 
  • Dry, chesty cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • Nausea and being sick 

To help you get better more quickly, the NHS has also advised the best way to treat flu. 



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Arthritis pain - Does cracking your knuckles or stretching your fingers cause joint pain?

Arthritis affects about 10 million people in the UK, according to the NHS.

It’s a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints.

Cracking your knuckles has long been linked to developing arthritis in later life. 

But, scientists have quelled the myth, and revealed the habit doesn’t lead to arthritis.

“There is no evidence that cracking knuckles causes any damage, such as arthritis, in the joints,” said Dr Dimitrios Pappas from Johns Hopkins University.

“However, a couple of reports in the medical literature are available associating knuckle cracking with injury of the ligaments surrounding the joint or dislocation of the tendons, which improved with conservative treatment.

“A study found that after many years of cracking habitual knuckle crackers may have reduced grip strength compared with people not cracking their knuckles.”

Knuckles are covered by capsules, which contain synovial fluid. This fluid acts as a lubricant, and also provides bones with nutrients.

A number of gases are continuously dissolved in the synovial fluid, said Pappas.

When someone cracks their knuckles, the pressure inside the joint is lowered as the capsule is stretched.

All of the gas then rushes to fill the empty space, creating a ‘bubble’, which bursts and makes a popping sound.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis in the UK, according to the NHS.

The condition affects about eight million people in the country - mostly developing in people during their late 40s.

Smooth cartilage which line the joints begin to thin out, and tendons and ligaments have to work harder.

This causes bone to rub on bone, forcing them out of their usual positions.



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Dementia - Following this diet plan could raise your risk of developing a brain condition

Dementia could be caused by eating a high-salt diet, US scientists have claimed.

Eating more salt caused about 25 per cent less blood to flow to part of the brain that’s linked to learning and memory in mice, the scientists revealed.

Many people in the UK eat too much salt, the NHS said.

An adult shouldn’t eat more than 6g of salt a day, it added.

“We discovered that mice fed a high-salt diet developed dementia even when blood pressure did not rise,” said senior author Dr Costantino Iadecola.

“This was surprising since, in humans, the deleterious effects of salt on cognition were attributed to [high blood pressure].”

The mice were given diets containing eight per cent salt - similar to the upper end of human salt consumption.

After eight weeks, the mice suffered “marked reductions” in memory. They performed worse on object recognition tests, maze tests and nest building the scientists said.

Foods that are high in salt include anchovies, bacon, cheese, gravy granules, ham, olives and pickles.

We tend to get 75 per cent of our recommended daily amount of salt in everyday foods, like bread, breakfast cereals and ready meals, the NHS said.

Eating too much salt could also lead to high blood pressure, which currently affects more than a third of UK adults.

Lowering your blood pressure will also lower your risk of having a stroke, or developing heart disease.

Dementia affects about 850,000 people in the UK.

The number of dementia cases could rise to more than one million by 2025, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Signs of dementia include memory loss, difficulty carrying out everyday tasks, and difficulty following conversations.

There’s currently no cure for the condition, but lifestyle changes could help the slow the condition’s development.



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Pancreatic cancer warning: Brush your teeth this number of times a day to lower your risk

Pancreatic cancer may be prevented by brushing your teeth, and maintaining good oral hygiene, scientists have revealed.

Gum disease has been linked to mouth cancer, as well as other cancers around the body, said the Swedish researchers.

Gum disease could be prevented by brushing your teeth twice a day, and by flossing regularly, according to the NHS.

Spotting gum disease - or periodontitis - early could lower the risk of subsequently developing cancers, the researchers claimed.

“These studies have demonstrated for the first time that the virulence factors of the central pathogenic bacteria underlying gum disease are able to spread from the mouth to other parts of the body,” said researcher Dr Timo Sorsa.

“It’s most likely in conjunction with the bacteria, and taking part in central mechanisms of tissue destruction related to cancer.”

Gum disease causes low-grade inflammation in the mouth, the scientists said.

The inflammation helped spread the bacteria to other parts of the body, including the pancreas.

Early diagnosis of periodontitis is not only important for patients’ oral health, but also their overall health, said Sorsa.

“In the long run, this is extremely cost-effective for society,” he added.

Gum disease is a very common condition where the gums become swollen or infected, the NHS said.

Gums may bleed when you brush them, and you may suffer from bad breath.

Untreated periodontitis can damage the bone in your jaw, and you may end up losing teeth.

Almost 10,000 new cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed every year, according to charity Cancer Research UK.

Symptoms of the disease include a pain in the back or stomach area, and unexpected weight loss.

The most obvious sign of pancreatic cancer is a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes.

About half of all new cases are in people over 74 years old.



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Aussie flu MAPPED: You’re most at risk of deadly infection if you live here

Aussie flu symptoms include fevers, headaches, sore throats and vomiting.

While the symptoms are similar to normal flu, they are more severe and tend to last longer, experts have warned.

Eighty-five people have died from flu since the beginning of October, Public Health England (PHE) has revealed.

The number of cases is expected to continue rising, it warned.

A map showing flu hotspots across the UK revealed the number of infections has risen over the past two weeks.

The interactive map - by online influenza surveillance system Flusurvey - reveals the areas worst hit by the virus.

The heat map shows a gradient from no reported influenza-like illness (blue), to very high reports of influenza-like illness (red).

As of Wednesday morning, the North-East of England was the most affected area.

Other locations across the UK that are in the red include:

• Cornwall and West Devon,

• Aberdeen, Scotland

• Dundee, Scotland

• Leeds, England

• Ipswich, England

• Derby, England

• Cardiff Wales

Llandrindod Wells, Wales, was the least affected area. Blackburn, Walsall and North London were also in the blue.

But, There are significantly more red zones than reported on Friday January 5.

The map is updated every three minutes online.

Aussie flu symptoms also include difficulty sleeping, diarrhoea, a chesty cough, and fatigue.

Signs of the condition can last more than two weeks, experts have claimed.

If you become infected with the virus, it wasn’t advised to visit your GP, as you could spread the virus further.

The best thing to do is to stay at home, rest, keep warm, and drink plenty of fluids. Painkillers could also help to reduce symptoms, according to the NHS.



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WARNING: Why Britons should check their blood health this January

The ‘Fatberg’ appeared in central London as part of a campaign to encourage Britons to seriously think about their internal health as well as their physical appearance after a Christmas of overindulgence.

Standing at the height of a London bus and measuring over 10ft wide, the enormous mass surfaced in the city during the week most Brits are likely to abandon their New Year health kick.

The Fatberg was created by preventative healthcare service Thriva following new research which reveals the average adult puts on 4.41lbs in extra weight during the festive period. 

One in 10 find themselves half a stone heavier in January than the month before. 

This equates to a collective national weight gain of 131,296 tonnes - twice as heavy as HMS Queen Elizabeth.

It comes as recent estimates show six in 10 Britons have raised or abnormal blood cholesterol, and over four million UK residents currently live with diabetes and another seven million are estimated to have pre-diabetes. 

Triglycerides, a cholesterol marker that represents the level of fat in the blood, raises 10 per cent on average between December and January.

The survey of 2,000 British adults also found that 56 per cent of Britons drink to excess in December, with wine (26 per cent) and beer (19 per cent) the biggest culprits. One in five (20 per cent) confess to having a social cigarette, and 10 per cent enjoy a cigar at some point over the holidays.

But whilst eight in 10 (80 per cent) are worried about the consequences of this overindulgence on their physical appearance, just half (52 per cent) are concerned about the effect on their internal health.

Physical attributes such as stomach rolls (25 per cent), love handles (18 per cent) and bingo wings (16 per cent) were found to be more worrying than iron levels (6 per cent), liver function (11 per cent) or risk of diabetes (7 per cent).

One in 10  (11 per cent) Brits surveyed, will have abandoned their January health kick by today (16th January), 37 per cent will have quit by this week.  

Hamish Grierson, co-founder of Thriva, said: “Even though most people see the benefits of a regular check-in on their health, very few actually do it because it’s such a pain to organise. We set up Thriva to make it quick, painless and affordable to get the vital information about what's going on inside your body. With a simple, home blood test you can take back control of your health.

“So as well as getting their bodies back into shape at the gym, we want to encourage Brits to consider what’s going on inside, as well as outside this January.”

Thriva provides at home, finger-prick blood tests to help people better understand their future health risk and improve their wellbeing. It analyses levels of cholesterol and essential vitamins as well as the function of key organs.

For more information and to register visit www.thriva.co.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes but symptoms often develop gradually. But what happens if it is left untreated? These are the signs to look out for. 



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Stomach cancer symptoms: Nine early signs that can be mistaken for less serious conditions

Stomach cancer is a tumour which forms when cells in your stomach grow in an abnormal and uncontrolled way. 

The exact cause is still unclear, but various health bodies say you’re more likely to develop it if you are male, are of 55 years of age or older, smoke, have a diet low in fibre and high in processed food or red meat, or have a diet that contains a lot of salted and pickled foods. 

If you don’t get treatment for stomach cancer, it can spread to other parts of your body or organs, such as your liver. 

But there are nine early signs of this type of cancer you can look out for, according to the NHS.  

The early stage symptoms, according to the health organisation, include: 

  • Persistent indigestion 
  • Trapped wind and frequent burping 
  • Heartburn 
  • Feeling full very quickly when eating 
  • Feeling bloated after eating 
  • Feeling sick 
  • Pain in your stomach or breastbone 
  • Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Vomiting (the vomit may be streaked with blood), although this is uncommon in the early stages) 

When stomach cancer becomes more advanced, different symptoms may start to show. These include: 

  • Blood in your stools, or black stools 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss 
  • Tiredness 
  • Lumpiness and swelling in your stomach (caused by a build-up of fluid) 
  • Anaemia (a reduced number of red blood cells that can cause you to feel tired and breathless) 
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

Stomach cancer is usually easier to treat if it’s diagnosed early. 

The NHS advises: “Stomach cancer is much more common in older people, with 90 out of 100 cases occurring in people who are over 55 years of age.

“Indigestion is a very common symptom in the general population. However, it's unlikely that someone with indigestion who's under the age of 55 will have stomach cancer.

“However, see your GP if you have indigestion and weight loss, anaemia or persistent vomiting. They should refer you to a specialist for further testing.

“Also see your GP if you have difficulty swallowing. This isn't a common symptom among the general population and the cause should always be investigated.”

Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. You should see a doctor if you have this one tell-tale symptom.



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Varicose veins? Why January and February are the best time of year to seek out treatment

Varicose veins occur when valves in the leg veins stop working properly, meaning the blood falls down the veins when standing up, rather than flowing upwards towards the heart. 

In their simplest form, varicose veins can be identified as bulging veins which protrude from the legs but, up to half of all varicose veins sufferers will show no overt signs of the condition, as the problematic veins remain hidden under the skin. 

If treatment is necessary, the NHS advises your doctor may first recommend up to six months of using compression stockings, taking regular exercise and elevating the affected area when resting. 

Other common treatment options include endothermic ablation - where heat is used to seal affected veins - sclerotherapy - this uses special foam to close the veins and ligation and stripping - the affected verbs are surgically removed. 

Whatever treatment option you decide to go with, a leading vascular specialist says January and February is the best time of year to do it. 

Professor Mark Whiteley of The Whiteley Clinic said many people will feel self-conscious about baring their legs during the summer months because of varicose veins, especially as 50 per cent of varicose veins are visible with a bulging appearance. 

So getting treatment done in good time will avoid this. 

He said: “It is very common for patients to seek treatment later in the year when their summer holidays are looking, but unfortunately this does not allow enough time for the course of the treatment to complete - which is why January and February are the perfect time to start.” 

What are the causes of varicose veins? 

Professor Whiteley said there is a stereotype that it’s only the old and the overweight who will suffer from varicose veins.

He said: “The truth is, 30 per cent of all adults will be affected by them and contrary to popular belief; the condition is familial and can strike at any time of life - although it does become more common with passing years. 

“This said, that doesn’t stop young people getting them if their genes determine it. I recently operated on a 12-year-old boy with severe varicose veins and have had many other patients in their teens.

“Up to 89 per cent of people who believe they are suffering from harmless thread veins on the surface of their skin are actually displaying signs of these hidden varicose veins. Many people will ignore these veins as they assume they are purely a ‘cosmetic condition’, and will often seek simple removal of these thread or spider veins.

“However, if the underlying hidden varicose veins have not been found and treated first, then thread or spider vein treatments are much less likely to work. Indeed, failure to find and treat the underlying veins can result in permanent red stains in a few cases.” 

What are the symptoms of varicose veins? 

The NHS says they may be blue or dark purple, and often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance. 

Other symptoms it lists include: 

  • Aching, heavy and uncomfortable legs
  • Swollen feet and ankles
  • Burning or throbbing in your legs
  • Muscle cramp in your legs, particularly at night
  • Dry, itchy and thin skin over the affected vein

Varicose veins are rarely a serious condition and don't usually require treatment.

But speak to your GP if:

  • Your varicose veins are causing you pain or discomfort
  • The skin over your veins is sore and irritated
  • The aching in your legs is causing irritation at night and disturbing your sleep

What are the treatment options for varicose veins?



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Varicose veins? Why January and February are the best time of year to seek out treatment

Varicose veins occur when valves in the leg veins stop working properly, meaning the blood falls down the veins when standing up, rather than flowing upwards towards the heart. 

In their simplest form, varicose veins can be identified as bulging veins which protrude from the legs but, up to half of all varicose veins sufferers will show no overt signs of the condition, as the problematic veins remain hidden under the skin. 

If treatment is necessary, the NHS advises your doctor may first recommend up to six months of using compression stockings, taking regular exercise and elevating the affected area when resting. 

Other common treatment options include endothermic ablation - where heat is used to seal affected veins - sclerotherapy - this uses special foam to close the veins and ligation and stripping - the affected verbs are surgically removed. 

Whatever treatment option you decide to go with, a leading vascular specialist says January and February is the best time of year to do it. 

Professor Mark Whiteley of The Whiteley Clinic said many people will feel self-conscious about baring their legs during the summer months because of varicose veins, especially as 50 per cent of varicose veins are visible with a bulging appearance. 

So getting treatment done in good time will avoid this. 

He said: “It is very common for patients to seek treatment later in the year when their summer holidays are looking, but unfortunately this does not allow enough time for the course of the treatment to complete - which is why January and February are the perfect time to start.” 

What are the causes of varicose veins? 

Professor Whiteley said there is a stereotype that it’s only the old and the overweight who will suffer from varicose veins.

He said: “The truth is, 30 per cent of all adults will be affected by them and contrary to popular belief; the condition is familial and can strike at any time of life - although it does become more common with passing years. 

“This said, that doesn’t stop young people getting them if their genes determine it. I recently operated on a 12-year-old boy with severe varicose veins and have had many other patients in their teens.

“Up to 89 per cent of people who believe they are suffering from harmless thread veins on the surface of their skin are actually displaying signs of these hidden varicose veins. Many people will ignore these veins as they assume they are purely a ‘cosmetic condition’, and will often seek simple removal of these thread or spider veins.

“However, if the underlying hidden varicose veins have not been found and treated first, then thread or spider vein treatments are much less likely to work. Indeed, failure to find and treat the underlying veins can result in permanent red stains in a few cases.” 

What are the symptoms of varicose veins? 

The NHS says they may be blue or dark purple, and often lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance. 

Other symptoms it lists include: 

  • Aching, heavy and uncomfortable legs
  • Swollen feet and ankles
  • Burning or throbbing in your legs
  • Muscle cramp in your legs, particularly at night
  • Dry, itchy and thin skin over the affected vein

Varicose veins are rarely a serious condition and don't usually require treatment.

But speak to your GP if:

  • Your varicose veins are causing you pain or discomfort
  • The skin over your veins is sore and irritated
  • The aching in your legs is causing irritation at night and disturbing your sleep

What are the treatment options for varicose veins?



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Aussie flu UK: How long do symptoms of the virus last? Will the flu jab protect you?

Aussie flu, the H3N2 strain of flu which was given its name after it caused problems in Australia during its winter, is now infecting people in the UK. 

Shock figures released by Public Health England last week revealed 85 people have died from influenza since October 5, with 27 of those going in the first week of January. 

The figures also revealed almost Almost 2,000 people have been hospitalised by flu this winter, and one in four of those cases were caused by deadly Aussie flu. 

But for those knocked down by the illness, how long do symptoms generally last? 

The symptoms of Aussie flu are the same as Aussie flu but have been described as more severe. 

Symptoms

The NHS outlines the nine flu symptoms to look out for: 

  • A sudden fever - a temperature of 38C or above 
  • Aching body 
  • Feeling tired or exhausted 
  • Dry, chesty cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea or tummy pain
  • Nausea and being sick 

Does the flu jab protect against Aussie flu?

But can the flu jab protect against the potentially deadly Aussie flu?

Dr Ben Coyle, medical director at the Now Healthcare Group, says the flu vaccine can act as protection. 

“Yes the jab can help. It may not work in all instances because of the possibilities of the viruses mutating, but you definitely won’t be protected if you don’t have it.

“It’s still available so get it done!” 



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How to live longer REVEALED: This diet can stop you getting frail in old age

Taking a walk for a certain amount of time everyday, never retiring and just spending time in the great outdoors have all been found to boost longevity.

But now new research has revealed eating a particularly diet can lower the risk of frailty in old age. 

Eating lots of olive oil, legumes and fish are just some of the foods that should be part of your daily eating plan, according to a new study. 

And these foods are all part of the Mediterranean diet - a diet inspired by the eating habits of Greece, Southern Italy and Spain. 

The study titled ‘Adherence to Mediterranean Diet Reduces Incident Frailty Risk: System Review and Meta-Analysis’, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found a clear association between the Mediterranean diet and incident frailty. 

But not only was there a link - the diet was found to significantly lower the risk of frailty, particularly in community-dwelling older people. 

Here are some easy ways of incorporating the Mediterranean Diet into your lifestyle. 

Oil up

Replace butter and margarine with healthy oils, such as olive oil, as often as possible. These are a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

Go for lean protein

Swap red meat for skinless chicken, turkey, fish, beans and nuts for a healthier source of protein. These foods have less saturated fat than red meat, and fatty fish in particular provides a great source of omega 3s.

Load up on vegetables

Aim to eat lots of veg – three to eight servings a day. Opt for vegetables in a range of colours to ensure a variety of vitamins and antioxidants.

Whole grain heaven

Eat whole grains, rather than refined. Try quinoa, barley and oatmeal, and swap white bread and pasta for wholegrain alternatives.

Snack well

Change your snacking habits, choosing almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds over processed foods packed with refined sugar. Keep your sweet tooth in check by eating fresh fruit, especially oranges and grapefruits which are crammed with vitamin C.

Don't cut out dairy

Include some milk and dairy foods, such as cheese and yoghurt. These are great sources of protein and calcium.

Take your time

Finally, people in the Mediterranean take time over their food, savouring every bite instead of shovelling it down. Giving yourself time to enjoy a meal can help you feel full up and reduce the urge to snack.

Research in the past has found the Mediterranean diet can add five years to your life. 



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Diabetes news: Mothers who breastfeed for six months or more halve their risk

The 30-year study suggests that breastfeeding for at least six months cuts the risk of developing type 2 diabetes nearly in half for women throughout their childbearing years.

Study lead author Doctor Erica Gunderson, senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in the US, said: “We found a very strong association between breastfeeding duration and lower risk of developing diabetes, even after accounting for all possible confounding risk factors.”

She said the results showed that women who breastfed for six months or more across all births had a 47 per cent reduction in their risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not breastfeed at all.

Women who breastfed for six months or less had a 25 per cent reduction in their diabetes risk, according to the findings published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

Dr Gunderson and her colleagues analysed figures during the 30 years of follow up from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, involving around 5,000 American adults who were aged 18 to 30 when they enrolled in 1985.

She said the new findings add to a growing body of evidence that breastfeeding has protective effects for both mothers and their offspring, including lowering a mother's risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

The CARDIA findings are also consistent with those of the Study of Women, Infant Feeding and Type 2 Diabetes after GDM Pregnancy (SWIFT), also led by Dr Gunderson, which includes routine biochemical screening for diabetes in women after gestational diabetes.

Dr Gunderson said: “The incidence of diabetes decreased in a graded manner as breastfeeding duration increased, regardless of race, gestational diabetes, lifestyle behaviours, body size, and other metabolic risk factors measured before pregnancy, implying the possibility that the underlying mechanism may be biological.”

She said several plausible biological mechanisms are possible for the protective effects of breastfeeding, including the influence of lactation-associated hormones on the pancreatic cells that control blood insulin levels and thereby impact blood sugar.

Doctor Tracy Flanagan, director of women's health for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said: “We have known for a long time that breastfeeding has many benefits both for mothers and babies, however, previous evidence showed only weak effects on chronic disease in women.

“Now we see much stronger protection from this new study showing that mothers who breastfeed for months after their delivery, may be reducing their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to one half as they get older.

“This is yet another reason that doctors, nurses, and hospitals as well as policymakers should support women and their families to breastfeed as long as possible.”

Dr Gunderson added: “Unlike previous studies of breastfeeding, which relied on self-reporting of diabetes onset and began to follow older women later in life, we were able to follow women specifically during the childbearing period and screen them regularly for diabetes before and after pregnancies.”



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How to lower high blood pressure naturally: Switch to decaf coffee to help hypertension

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is recorded as two numbers -  the systolic pressure (the higher number) which indicates the force at which your heart pumps blood around the body, and the diastolic pressure (the lower number) which records the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels. 

Too high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher.

Heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease are just a few of the potentially life-threatening conditions caused by hypertension, if it’s left untreated. 

Your doctor may recommend taking one or more medicines to keep your high blood pressure under control. But some scientists believe a number of natural remedies can be used to help lower hypertension - including decaf coffee. 

Some studies have shown no effect, but research carried out by Duke University Medical Center found that caffeine consumption of 500mg increased blood pressure by 4mmHg, and that effect last until bedtime. 

Caffeine can raise blood pressure by tightening blood vessels and by magnifying the effects of stress, according to study author, research professor at the university, Prof Jim Lane. 

He said: “When you’re under stress, your heart starts pumping a lot more blood, boosting blood pressure, and caffeine exaggerates that effect.” 

So if you’re a bit of a coffee fiend, but you have hypertension, it’s recommended you switch to decaf. 

High blood pressure, or hypertension as its also known, affects more than one in four adults in the UK, according to the NHS. 

If your blood pressure is extremely high there may be certain symptoms to look out for. 

The pharmacy chain says these include: 

  • Severe headache 
  • Fatigue or confusion 
  • Vision problems 
  • Chest pain 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Blood in the urine 

If you have any of these symptoms, seek medical advice immediately. 

You could be having a hypertensive crisis that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. 

Regular exercise, reducing your sodium intake and drinking less alcohol are just a few of things studies have found to help lower high blood pressure. 

Alongside these, scientists have suggested eating sardines could also help - and here’s the reason why. 



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Tea health benefits: Brew can 'spark instant burst of brainpower and creativity'

Just minutes after a brew, volunteers scored higher results in creative and cognition tests than those people who had drunk a glass of water, researchers found.

Although tea contains caffeine and theanine, both associated with increased attentiveness and alertness, these do not usually take effect instantly.

Instead, scientists from Peking University’s School of Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, believe that a cup of tea enhances our mood which sparks the brain’s cognitive regions into life.

Fifty students took part in the study which was for the specialist journal Food Quality and Preference.

Half were given a cup of black tea and the rest were given a glass of water before performing two tests.

In the first they were asked to make an “attractive and creative” design out of building blocks and in the second they were asked to come up with a “cool” name for a noodle restaurant.

Their efforts were judged by another group of students.

In the block building test, the tea drinkers scored 6.54 points against 6.03 points for the water drinkers.

In the name test, the tea drinkers scored 4.11 against 3.78.

The researchers claim the results show that tea helped both divergent thinking - the process of coming up with a number of new ideas around a central theme and what most people would consider to define creativity.

Yan Huang, who led the team, said the good feelings created by a cuppa were more of an influence on the students’ performance than the chemicals involved.

He said: “This work contributes to understanding the function of tea on creativity and offers a new way to investigate the relationship between food and beverage consumption and the improvement of human cognition.

“Two biological ingredients, caffeine and theanine, have beneficial effects on attention, which is an indispensable part of cognitive function.

“But the amount of tea ingredients our participants absorbed was relatively small.

“Also, theanine facilitates long-term sustained attentional processing rather than short-term moment-to-moment attentional processing.”



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