LRC members keep up to date in a variety of ways, such as reading journals and attending meetings. Here we summarise some of the more important aspects of our work, and some facts we have come across that may also be of interest to you and your health.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY & HEALTH
OSTEOPOROSIS AND FRACTURES
DIET & HEALTH
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY & HEALTH
Dementia and Physical Activity (DAPA) trial of moderate to high intensity exercise training for people with dementia
Moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise improves physical fitness, but this does not translate into a slowing of cognitive impairment, or noticeable improvements in functioning, behaviour or health related quality of life in people with mild to moderate dementia.
Are we active enough?
Inactivity increases risk of cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, dementia and some cancers. Inactivity is defined as less than 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity a week. In the UK 36% of adults were insufficiently active, but 67% (Kuwait) and 53% (Saudi Arabia) of adults were not sufficiently active.
Regular physical exercise: the ‘miracle cure’ to ageing
- Regular exercise can make you feel ten years younger.
- Fitness loss increases the risk of needing social care.
- You need to be able to get to the lavatory in time.
- Provision for exercise needs to be prioritised.
Too old to exercise
When the US researchers took 1635 free-living adults aged 70-89 and compared an exercise programme with health education over two years, there was no difference in progression to frailty, as defined by standardised criteria. To be sure, this was not an ideally designed trial, and the intervention did help people stand up more easily. But if you decide to stay on the sofa sipping your cocoa while channel-hopping or watching an old episode of Morse, the difference will be small and the comfort will be great.
Ann Intern Med doi:10.7326/M16-2011
Get your free Active 10 app to encourage more exercise
- More than four in ten adults in England aged 40-60 are not even managing ten minutes of continuous brisk walking a month, according to Public Health England (PHE).
- PHE’s evidence summary concludes that ten minutes of walking at a brisk intensity each day can help prevent cancer, heart disease, and poor mental health.
- The report estimates that physical activity in adults contributes to one in six deaths in the UK. What’s more, it also costs the NHS over £0.9bn a year.
- Why not try it? Free Active 10 app available as part of a new campaign to encourage people to build ten minutes of continuous brisk walking into their day.
Yoga matches physical therapy for back pain
A weekly yoga class designed for patients with chronic low back pain over 12 weeks was as effective as 15 physical therapy sessions for reducing pain, improving function, and lowering the use of pain medicine, a trial found in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Physical activity, cognitive decline, and risk of dementia
This study sought to answer the question of whether there is an association between physical activity and dementia. Data from 10,308 participants who took part in a variety of exercise modalities. Unfortunately there was no association between physical activity and risk of dementia over an average 27 year follow up. The suggestion is that a decrease in physical activity could be part of the cascade of changes occurring in the preclinical phase of dementia. Oh well, we can all give up exercise now.
Exercise deficiency disorder
Evidence to support a link between lack of exercise and obesity and type 2 diabetes comes thick and fast. A cross-sectional study of adults in Toronto shows an association between neighbourhood “walkability” and metabolic risk factors. Those in least walkable areas had higher blood pressure, body mass index, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, and glycated haemoglobin. Message: each extra increment of exercise was associated with lower body mass index and glycated haemoglobin. People need to heed the title of Sir Muir Gray’s latest book, Sod Sitting Get Moving!
BMJ Open doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013889
Exercise boosts brain power in over 50s
A combination of aerobic and resistance exercises (such as weights) can significantly boost brain power in people over 50 regardless of cognitive status, a review of 39 studies in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found. The evidence is strong enough to recommend prescribing both types of exercise to improve brain health in over 50s said the researchers.
Addiction to exercise
Exercise has numerous health benefits and is generally viewed as a positive behaviour, so patients and clinicians may overlook the dangers of exercise and addiction.
What you need to know:
- Addiction to exercise might form part of a broader eating disorder or may occur in isolation.
- Inability to stop or reduce exercising, for example in response to an injury, may indicate addiction.
- Treatment broadly follows the principles of treating other addictions, for example cognitive behavioural therapy and exercise reprogramming.
Exercising only at weekends is still beneficial
Although guidelines recommend spreading exercise throughout the week, “weekend warriors” who compress the recommended amount into the weekend still experience substantial benefits, research published in Jama Internal Medicine showed. The risks of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, were 30%, 40%, and 18% lower, respectively, in weekend warriors than among inactive adults.
BMJ 2016; doi 10.1136/bmj.j126
Gotta catch ‘em all! Pokémon GO and physical activity in young adults
- In young adults using iPhones, in the USA, Pokémon GO was associated with a moderate increase in daily number of steps.
- This increase was not, however, sustained: the number of steps reverted to pre-installation levels by the sixth week.
- The impact of Pokémon GO on physical activity was limited in the study population of young adults in the US.
An hour’s exercise offsets impact of sitting all day
Doing at least an hour a day of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, seems to eliminate the increased risk of death associated with sitting for more than eight hours a day, a study published in the Lancet has shown.
Physical activity and risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, ischaemic heart disease and ischaemic stroke events
Exercise results in decrease in the risk of these diseases as level of activity increases. Most health gains occur with relatively low levels of activity, with diminishing returns at high levels of activity.
Hip replacements fail to make patients more active
Researchers from the Physiotherapy Department at the University of East Anglia have reported in the Journal of Clinical Rehabilitation that hip replacement surgery is failing to improve the physical activity levels of patients. Following a study of more than 1000 patients, investigating a number of physical activity modalities e.g. walking distance and speed, they found that there was no clear evidence of a change in physical activity following surgery. Patients need to be encouraged to be more physically active.
Daily Telegraph: 24/10/16
Exercise therapy versus surgery for knee arthritis
- Exercise therapy and knee arthroscopy were similarly effective for pain relief and other patient reported outcomes in a younger, more active population with a lower body mass index than previously studied.
- Exercise therapy resulted in better thigh muscle strength than surgery.
- Supervised exercise therapy should be considered as a treatment option for patients with pain and degenerative meniscal tears verified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and without radiographic signs of osteoarthritis.
Tai chi reduces the pain of knee arthritis
Tai chi produces beneficial effects similar to a standard course of physical therapy when treating knee osteoarthritis. In addition, tai chi practitioners showed significantly greater improvements in depression and the physical component of quality of life.
Older people are bombarded with advice to keep active. A cross-sectional survey of 3499 Irish people aged 65 years and over, revealed that nearly 70% of responders managed at least 30 minutes/day of moderate intensity activity five days a week. The variables most strongly related to activity were not physical health or physical environment, but hours spent sitting, having sex, functional ability, mental health and employment status.
Age and Aging 2015, DOI:10. 1093/ageing/AVAFV042
Serum uric acid levels and multiple health outcomes
Despite a few hundred systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and Mendelian randomisation studies exploring 136 unique health outcomes, convincing evidence of a clear role of serum uric acid level only exists for nephrolithiasis and gout. So uric acid itself is not associated with hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Gout: multicentre study proves ultrasound’s utility
The presence of synovial monosodium urate monohydrate (MSU) crystals is the gold standard for diagnosing gout.However, a new study, funded in part by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and led by rheumatologists, evaluated the effectiveness of ultrasound in diagnosing it. The study found that ultrasound can be useful in discriminating gout from non-gout.
Arthritis Rheumatol Feb 2017;69(2):429-438
Cardiovascular risk in people with gout
Urate lowering treatment is moderately effective in preventing relapse in people with gout. Whether this approach does anything to reduce the raised cardiovascular risk associated with this inflammatory arthritis is another matter. A systematic review of randomised controlled trials of urate lowering drugs finds no reduction in cardiovascular events compared with placebo, but the trials were too short and the cardiovascular events too infrequent to be sure.
Corticosteroid for gout
A simple head-on comparison with indomethacin has demonstrated that a short course of prednisolone relieves gout very effectively. This may be of additional benefit to patients who cannot take NSAIDs due to heart failure and those who cannot tolerate colchicine.
Ann Intern Med 2016, doi:10.7326/M14-2070
Diet may stop gout flares
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is high in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, and low in red meat and saturated fats, may significantly reduce serum uric acid, a randomised study reported in Arthritis and Rheumatology showed. This may help to reduce flares in patients with gout, the authors said.
BMJ 20-27/09/16:254 (10.1136/bmj.i4464)
Drug immunogenicity in patients with inflammatory arthritis and secondary failure to tumour necrosis factor inhibitor therapies: the REASON study
In a recent study of biological disease modifying drug treatment failure in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and axial spondylitis, anti-drug antibodies were found in between 20-29% of patients who were experiencing treatment failure. This is more common in patients taking adalimumab and infliximab.
Balsa A et al. Rheumatology 2018;57:688-693
Increased cardiovascular risk in rheumatoid arthritis: mechanisms and implications
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systematic, autoimmune disease that affects approximately 0.5-1.0% of the population. Cardiovascular disease accounts for the largest proportion of excess mortality in people with rheumatoid arthritis, and they have a 48% increased risk of cardiovascular events in comparison with the general population.
Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
On 07/04/17, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) published its final report, Targeted Immune Modulators for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Effectiveness and Value. The good news is that there are eleven immunomodulators that are effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
The Rheumatologist; June 2017:27
Regular fish may help rheumatoid arthritis
Eating fish at least twice a week was associated with reduced disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in a study reported in Arthritis Care and Research. Each additional serving of fish consumed each week reduced symptom scores further. The good news is that cod is no longer an endangered species.
Gender differences in rheumatoid arthritis
Why is rheumatoid arthritis two or three times more common in women than men? A large case-control study from Sweden explores the influence of breast feeding and exposure to oral contraceptives but fails to find much in the way of explanation. Women who had used oral contraceptives had a slightly lower risk of seropositive rheumatoid arthritis than women who had never used them, but breast feeding made no difference.
Ann Rheum Dis doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2017-211620
The defeat of rheumatoid arthritis
In patients with early rheumatoid arthritis, combination therapy results in faster clinical improvement and targeted treatment determines long term outcomes, drug free remission with prevention of functional deterioration and clinically relevant radiographic damage, and normalized survival and realistic outcomes.
Ann Intern Med 2016, doi:10.7326/M15-0919
In another study, combination therapy is superior to methotrexate alone, and similar to methotrexate plus biologic DMARDs for controlling disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis. This is excellent news for rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis and risk of non-melanoma skin cancer
Biologic naïve patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at a 20% increased risk of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and a near doubling risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) compared with the general population. TNF inhibitor treatment does not have a clinically meaningful effect on the risk of BCC but may increase the risk of SCC by a further 30%, irrespective of TNF inhibitor treatment. Vigilance regarding skin malignancies may be advisable in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
By the banks of the silver Tay
Folk are taking ten medicines a day.
There are too many polypharmacists
And it is high time we called an armistice.
Diclofenac use and cardiovascular risks
Diclofenac initiation is associated with a cardiovascular health risk compared with no use, paracetamol use, and use of other traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
NSAIDs are linked to cardiac arrest risk
Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs diclofenac and ibuprofen was associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiac arrest, a study found in the European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy. Use of any NSAID was associated with a 31% increased risk of cardiac arrest; diclofenac was associated with a 50% increased risk and ibuprofen a 31% risk.
Risk of acute myocardial infarction with NSAIDs in real world use
A cohort of 446,763 individuals, including 61,460 with acute myocardial infarction was acquired.
Naproxen was associated with the same risk of myocardial infarction as that documented for other NSAIDs. The risk associated with celecoxib was comparable to that of traditional NSAIDs and was lower than for rofecoxib.
Celecoxib and cardiovascular death
A cardiovascular safety trial of celecoxib (Celebrex) has been published, called the PRECISION (Prospective Randomized Evaluation of Celecoxib Integrated Safety Versus Ibuprofen or Naproxen) Trial. In total more than 24,000 patients with osteoarthritis (90%), and rheumatoid arthritis (10%), with increased cardiovascular risk, were involved, and the trial duration was ten years. The data shows that celecoxib has better cardiovascular safety than ibuprofen and naproxen, and the use of celecoxib also led to fewer GI events than either NSAID, and fewer adverse renal events compared with ibuprofen.
N England J Med. 2016 doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1611593
NSAIDs offer little benefit for back pain
It has been reported that NSAIDs offer little clinical benefit to patients with spinal pain and it is estimated that only one in every six patients treated with an NSAID experiences any benefit. In addition, patients taking NSAIDs were two and a half times more likely to experience adverse gastrointestinal events.
The NHS spends almost £40 million a year on cortisone injections into facet joints despite NICE guidelines in 2009 and 2016 recommending against the £540 procedure. In 2017 70,608 such injections were given, up from 62,570 five years ago.
Hospital drug costs rise to £8.3bn a year and are set to surpass spending in primary care
Between 2010 and 2017 primary care spending was static at approximately £9bn a year while hospital spending rose at an average rate of 12.1% a year from around £4.2bn to £8.3bn. As a result, hospital spending now represents 47.6% of the NHS total spending on medicines. It is pleasing to note that the new biological therapies used to treat arthritis represent less than 2% of this medication bill.
Population oral steroid use is high
In a recent survey 3% of the Danish population were prescribed corticosteroids at least once a year between 1999 and 2015. In the oldest age groups, who were at the highest risk of harm, this approached 10%.
Hyaluronic Acid for knee osteoarthritis
An international task force convened by the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis (ESCEO) recommends systematic repeated intra-articular hyaluronic acid injections as second-line treatment for patients with knee osteoarthritis. This is the first time a group of experts has made this recommendation, which is directed toward treatment of patients who have had a beneficial response with a previous cycle of treatment.
The Rheumatologist; June 2017:34
Tocilizumab receives FDA approval for giant cell arteritis (GCA)
In February 2017, a supplemental biologics licence application was accepted by the FDA for tocilizumab to treat GCA. Subcutaneous tocilizumab is a humanized interleukin 6 receptor antagonist that is already FDA approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis and polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA) or systematic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (sJIA) in patients two years of age and older. The FDA approval is the sixth for tocilizumab, which is also the first new treatment for GCA in more than 50 years.
The Rheumatologist July 2017: page 34
Study backs statins for high LDL patients
Treatment with statins reduced deaths from coronary heart disease by 28% in men with very high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol but no other risk factors or signs of heart disease, a 15 year follow-up study has reported in the journal Circulation. The authors said that the findings provide the first direct randomised trial evidence to confirm current guidance that patients with LDL above 190mg/dL should be considered for statin treatment regardless of other risk factors.
Gabapentinoids do not help chronic low back pain
Gabapentinoids, including pregabalin and gabapentin, are increasingly being used off label to treat chronic low back pain, but a systematic review and meta-analysis in PloS Medicine has concluded that the existing evidence does not support such use. In the USA pregabalin is a controlled substance, and calls have been growing for it to be reclassified in the UK to tackle widespread misuse and addiction.
Risk of serious infections associated with use of immunosuppressive agents in pregnant women with autoimmune inflammatory conditions
An observational cohort study has shown that in pregnant women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease, use of steroids, non-biologicals, and TNF-inhibitors is associated with similar risk of serious infections. Steroid dose is an independent risk factor for serious infections in pregnancy. Pregnant women using high dose steroids should be monitored closely for development of serious infections.
Excerpt from NICE guidelines for treatment of low back pain and sciatica
- Paracetamol is not effective alone.
- Consider oral NSAIDs.
- Do not offer acupuncture.
Paracetamol is ineffective in osteoarthritis
Paracetamol had virtually no effect on pain or function in patients with osteoarthritis, a large meta-analysis in the Lancet showed. Results showed that diclofenac (150mg/day) was the most effective in reducing pain and improving physical function, whereas paracetamol had nearly a null effect on pain symptoms at all doses. In an editorial, commentators concluded that many patients could be suffering needlessly because of perceived NSAID risks and paracetamol benefits which might not be real.
BMJ story doi:10.1136/bmj.i1609
Don’t take a kiloton of paracetamol
Britain gets through 6300 tons of paracetamol every year but France tops this with 10 kilotons. What pain killing power results from these nuclear weapon levels of consumption? The answer is very little: fast acting formulations of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs work better for acute pain, and there is no evidence that paracetamol works for chronic pain. Its potential harms, however, are very measurable.
European Journal of Hospital Pharmacy;doi:10.1136/ejhpharm-2016-000952
Opioids for low back pain
Opioid analgesics (e.g. codeine phosphate) provide modest short-term pain relief but the effect is not likely to provide significant long term benefit. Recent Lancet review suggest that diclofenac 150mg daily is more effective but this may have cardiovascular risk. To complicate matters we know that paracetamol is useless for chronic pain. So the way forward is to use cox2 selective NSAIDs (e.g. etoricoxib and celecoxib) for short periods of time when required.
JAMA Intern Med 2016, doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1251
Paracetamol is ineffective in reducing low back pain
Paracetamol is ineffective in reducing pain or disability in patients with low back pain, and provides small and non-clinically important effects for those with hip or knee osteoarthritis. People taking paracetamol are also more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests.
Efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo controlled trials (BMJ 2015;350:h1225)
Between 1995 and 2010 a proportion of adults dispensed five or more, and ten or more drugs, doubled to 20.8% and tripled to 5.8% respectively. The proportion with potentially serious drug interactions more than doubled to 13%
(BMJ Medicine 2015;30:74).
Mindfulness better than medication for back pain
Mindfulness meditation is better than medication at easing chronic low back pain. This study compared Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy and other usual treatments for back pain, including physical therapy and meditation. The researchers examined a specific kind of mindfulness meditation called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). This involves observing and accepting thoughts and feelings, including pain, and simple yoga poses. The trial involved 342 chronic back pain patients aged 20-40 years who were split into three groups, each receiving a different type of treatment. After six months 61% of patients receiving MBSR, and 58% having CBT, showed improvements in their functional limitations compared to 44% of those in the usual care group. There was also a 44% improvement in self-reported “pain bothersomeness” in the MBSR group, and 45% in the CBT group, compared to 27% receiving usual care treatments. We will all need a lot of these therapies if Donald Trump is elected!
JAMA 2016, doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2323
Mind your backs
The Mindfulness based stress reduction programme has apparently featured in over 100 randomized controlled trials, this latest one being in people aged 65 years or more with chronic back pain. In a highly selected population of mean age 74.5 years, the overall effect of Mindfulness training was small and poorly sustained, although a few participants showed noticeable benefit. Worth a try then? Possibly something to be mindful of.
JAMA Intern Med 2016, doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.8033
Does Mindfulness work? Reasonably convincing evidence in depression and anxiety
Mindfulness is defined as the process of paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgemental manner. There is convincing evidence for its use in the treatment of depression and anxiety and it is effective in increasing perceptual distance from distressing stimuli.
Bus passes have unexpected health rewards according to a recent study with benefit for mental health, reduction in loneliness, increased contact with children and friends, and diminished prevalence of depression.
There is little role for arthroscopic surgery in degenerative knee disease?
An expert panel makes a strong recommendation against the use of arthroscopy in nearly all patients with degenerative knee disease, based on linked systematic reviews; further research is unlikely to alter this recommendation.
Spinal manipulation may help acute low back pain
Spinal manipulation therapy for acute low back pain is associated with modest improvements in pain and function, a meta-analysis published JAMA found. In 15 randomised controlled trials including 1711 patients it found moderate quality evidence that spinal manipulation was associated with improvements in pain. This is about the same as the benefit from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in acute low back pain found in a Cochrane review.
What is the most effective treatment for frozen shoulder?
What you need to know:
- There is insufficient evidence to reliably recommend a treatment approach.
- Moderate evidence supports corticosteroid injection or hydrodilatation and physiotherapy in reduction of pain and stiffness.
- Consider specialist referral if the patient does not respond to conservative treatment or if the diagnosis is in doubt.
Treatment for low back pain
It has been shown that multidisciplinary rehabilitation is more effective than using just one method of treatment. The end result is that patients receiving these programmes are likely to gain small long term benefits in pain and disability. Conclusion: see a rheumatologist and a physiotherapist.
Multidisciplinary biopsychosocial rehabilitation for chronic low back pain: Cochrane systematic review and meta-analysis (BMJ 2015;350:h444)
Homeopathy is not an effective treatment for any health condition
A large review by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council has said that homeopathy is not an effective treatment for any health condition. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatment, for which there is good evidence.
Homeopathy is not an effective treatment for any health condition, report concludes (BMJ 2015;350:h1478)
OSTEOPOROSIS AND FRACTURES
Osteoporosis screening – studies show patterns of underutilization
In one study of screening rates between 2008 and 2014 among 1,638,454 women, dependent upon age overall screening rates were low and ranged between 26.5% and 12.8%. One reason suggested for low utilization of osteoporosis screening was the misperception that drugs used to treat osteoporosis were not safe.
Solution: it is important to educate patients about the need for maintaining bone strength into older age. This is why the London Rheumatology Clinic offer an osteoporosis screening service.
Testosterone in men
Over a one year period, using testosterone gel increases trabecular bone density more than peripheral bone density, and more in the spine than the hip, but does it actually prevent fractures in the longer term?
JAMA Intern Med 2017,doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.9546
Ten years too long: cardiac safety of strontium ranelate: key messages
- Regulatory documents from 2006-07 show that strontium ranelate increases the risk of myocardial infarction and congestive heart failure.
- The EMA did not act on these data at the time or make them publicly known until 2013, indicating regulatory failure.
- The risks of strontium ranelate outweigh the benefits, and it should not be prescribed for fracture prevention.
Drug changes after fragility fracture
What should you start and what should you stop after a patient has had an osteoporotic fracture?
In a recent report (JAMA Intern Med) fewer than 25% of patients with fragility fractures in the USA received drugs to enhance bone mineral density, even after the event. Drugs such as opioids, and other sedatives associated with risk of falls were rarely discontinued, and patients taking oral steroids usually remained on them at the same dose. Medication vigilance is essential after an osteoporotic fracture.
JAMA Intern Med 2016,doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4814
Prevention of falls in older people living in the community
According to the World Health Organisation, 28-35% of older people (> 65 years) fall each year globally and prevalence increases with age. A longitudinal study found that 68% of people who fell reported some injury; healthcare was required in 24% of cases, functional decline was reported by 35%, and social and physical activities were impaired for more than 15%. Close to 95% of all hip fractures are caused by falls. After a first fall, people have a 66% chance of having another fall within a year.
Vitamin D and risk of pregnancy related hypertensive disorders
The study found no evidence to support a causal effect of 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels on the risk of pre-eclampsia or gestational hypertension.
Low vitamin D levels as a risk factor for cancer
It would appear that the consequences of low vitamin D levels are ostensibly associated with bone health as there is no causal relationship with the risk of a variety of cancers.
Will vitamin D supplements for healthy adults help prevent disease?
Meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials (RCTs):
- show that vitamin D supplementation alone does not improve musculoskeletal outcomes.
- vitamin D on non-musculoskeletal outcomes suggest ongoing uncertainty.
Patients should therefore be counselled about sunlight exposure and diet; low dose vitamin D supplements (400-800 IU/day) can be considered on an individual basis.
Low levels of vitamin D3 may increase osteoarthritis (OA) pain
Vitamin D3 can influence bone health. Studies have demonstrated that vitamin D3 is an immunomodulator (i.e. reduces inflammation). IL-17A promotes inflammation in the body and decreased serum levels of vitamin D3 seem to be associated; in a recent study IL-17A was increased and vitamin D3 decreased in patients with osteoarthritis.
The Rheumatologist 2017:Volume 11/number 1: page 30
More good news about vitamin D….
Vitamin D is in the British Medical Journal and the national news again. The proven benefits are now included in the guidelines for treatment of early osteoporosis and vitamin D insufficiency. The latter can lead to soft bones (rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults). There is evidence that it can influence immunity in various models, and the latest news is that it might reduce the risk of colds and flu.
Illness from a respiratory infection is a balance between exposure to the amount of virus encounter at close quarters, and the immune defence of the individual at the time. It is wise therefore, as pointed out by the editor, to await results from a larger study on the fuller and collateral effects (good or bad) of vitamin D supplementation before citing this as evidence for its use as a preventative treatment for colds!
Vitamin D and calcium supplementation in falls
The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has reviewed nine vitamin D supplementation randomized trials and found that a median oral daily dose of 800 IU of vitamin D with/without calcium was associated with a 17% reduced risk of falling and has therefore recommended vitamin D supplementation to prevent falls in community dwelling older adults.
Vitamin D and Dementia
A study by the University of Exeter (Journal of Neurology) of 1658 American adults aged 65 years and over, who were free from dementia, heart disease and stroke at the start, found that those who were moderately deficient in the vitamin had a 53% higher risk of developing any kind of dementia. So vitamin D is not only good for your bones, it may prevent neurological disease.
As a reminder, vitamin D levels can be maximized by:
- 20 minutes of midday sun on the face and forearms three times a week;
- fatty fish, e.g. salmon, tuna, mackerel, eggs and fortified foods;
- 25mcg (1000 IU) supplementation every day.
The Daily Telegraph: August 2014
HOWEVER, there are some things that vitamin D3 supplementation cannot help: a study from New Zealand set out to determine whether supplementation with vitamin D improved resilience to the adverse effects of earthquakes. Unfortunately, it did not.
Effect of monthly vitamin D3 supplementation in healthy adults on adverse effects of earthquakes: randomised controlled trial (BMJ 2014;349:g7260)
Calcium & vitamin D – you’ll feel it in your bones …
Don’t leave bone health to chance
Did you know that bone is a living tissue that continues to regenerate and change throughout our lives? Or that our bone mass increases from birth until our mid-twenties, when it reaches its peak? Put like that it is a scary thought – but thankfully we have the power to keep our bones healthy beyond our twenties, thank goodness, by adopting a diet that is rich in both calcium and vitamin D, not to mention a few rays of sunshine which help to create more vitamin D in our bodies, whilst making us naturally feel happy and healthy too.
It is really important to remember that calcium intake is directly linked to bone mineral density; and that calcium can’t be made naturally by the body, but only from our dietary intake, which makes a calcium-rich diet all the more essential!
Vitamin D, otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, works together with calcium to keep bones healthy and good levels of sunlight and vitamin-D rich foods can assist in its production.
So it is more important than ever to engage in a healthy diet that can significantly diminish our predisposition to bone-related diseases and keep our bone health to an optimum for as long as possible.
References available on request
DIET & HEALTH
A recent systematic review has produced little evidence to suggest that elderly people derive any benefit from dietary supplements containing live bacteria.
It would appear that the Mediterranean diet is not all is made out to be!
The Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, vegetables, fruits, nuts and cereals, and light on dairy and red and processed meats, is thought to reduce cardiovascular disease. Well that was until recently when Spanish researchers retracted their landmark study (PREDIMED) because of “irregularities in randomisation procedures.” In addition the Cochrane Collaboration could not find the impact of the changes on the three endpoints (heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular mortality). This raises the basic question: is it actually possible to conduct a meaningful dietary trial in a free-living population?
What is the role of obesity in smoking behaviour?
Obesity is significantly influential in smoking initiation, intensity and cessation, which could have implications for public health interventions aimed at reducing the prevalence of these important risk factors.
Dietary patterns and the prevention of chronic disease
Food based prevention of chronic disease risk should prioritise fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, and lower consumption of red and processed meats and sugar sweetened drinks.
Dietary carbohydrates: role of quality and quantity in chronic disease
Carbohydrate quality has a major influence on risk for numerous chronic diseases. Replacing processed carbohydrates with unprocessed carbohydrates or healthy fats would greatly benefit public health.
Relation between alcohol consumption in midlife and dementia in late life
The results show a greater risk of dementia in those who abstain from alcohol or consume >14 units/week in midlife, with increasing in a linear fashion at higher consumption levels. BMJ 2018;362:k2927
Comment: Unfortunately these findings suggest a downward revision of alcohol consumption guidelines is required to promote cognitive health.
Diet and psoriasis
People with psoriasis often ask if dietary changes might improve their skin condition. A recent systematic review suggests that if they are obese then weight loss is the only dietary intervention that may be useful with no convincing evidence that dietary supplementation with fish oils, selenium, vitamin D or multivitamins makes any difference.
Nutritional science – is quality more important than quantity?
Prof Mozaffarian (School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Massachusetts) tells us that we do not need to tell patients to eat less if they are obese. What we need to tell them is to eat better, and indeed eat more of the healthy foods. So he is of the opinion that it is all about quality rather than quantity.
BMJ Podcast: http://bit.ly/diet_quality_quantity
Each year in England alcohol related illness costs the NHS £3.5bn and is responsible for more than a million admissions to hospital – says the Alcohol Health Alliance, which is urging the government to increase alcohol duty by 2% above inflation. BMJ 2018;362:k3780
Effect of fish oil supplementation in pregnancy on lean, bone, and fat mass at six years
Fish oil supplementation in pregnancy stimulates healthy somatic growth in young children and shows a programming effect of micronutrients during pregnancy.
Coffee gets a clean bill of health
Moderate coffee consumption seems generally safe and may even be beneficial with regard to cancer and liver disease prevention.
Weight reducing diets, with or without exercise advice or programmes, might reduce premature all-cause mortality in adults who are obese.
Improving adherence to healthy dietary patterns, genetic risk, and long term weight gain
This study suggests that improving adherence to a healthy diet could counteract part of the influence of genetic susceptibility to obesity on long term weight gain.
A tipple a day keeps diabetes away?
That’s what the research says. A Danish study hit the headlines this week, showing that people who drink alcohol three to four days a week had around a 30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than teetotallers. The lowest risks of diabetes were in men who consumed 14 alcoholic drinks and women who knocked back nine drinks a week.
The importance of being PURE
PURE is a five-continent observational study of diet in relation to cardiovascular disease in mortality in nearly 150,000 people. It is probably the best of its kind ever done. The main message was negative: there was no specific connection between carbohydrate intake and cardiovascular disease: the association was with total all-cause mortality. By contrast, eating more fat, including saturated, was associated with lower cardiovascular disease, meaning we can abandon the saturated fat-cardiovascular disease hypothesis with some certainty.
Alcohol consumption and brain health
Dr K A Welch, a consultant neuropsychiatrist from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, cautions that even “moderate” drinking is linked to changes in brain function and structure. It has long been shown that heavy drinkers have higher incidence of dementia, more evidence of diminished executive brain function, and brain scans showing damage. Whilst it is difficult for anyone to state the optimal level of consumption, it appears that 1 unit of alcohol/day has the lowest risk, apart from no intake which has the best outcome for brain health.
BMJ 2017;357:j2645 doi: 10.1136/bmj.j2645
Alcohol and cardiovascular disease
In a population based cohort study, in adults without cardiovascular disease, it has been shown that moderate drinking is associated with a lower risk of initial presentation of several, but not all, cardiovascular diseases. This has implications for patient counselling, public health communication, and clinical research.
Meat consumption and risk of mortality
Dietary data from 536,969 individuals aged between 50 and 71 years, and studied for 16 years, showed that a high red meat intake was associated with an increased risk of death. Cows are also bad for the health of the planet e.g. to produce 1kg of meat protein requires >110,000L of water and results in the production of 37% of methane.
“Five a day” may help to keep dementia away
The cognitive status of 17,700 dementia-free older patients was followed over six years. The researchers found that those consuming at least three daily servings of vegetables and two of fruit had lower odds of developing dementia.
BMJ 04/03/2017: Seven days in medicine
Ten portions are better than five, finds analysis
Eating five a day reduces the chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and early death, but the greatest benefit comes from eating ten portions a day, according to a meta-analysis of 95 studies including almost two million people.
BMJ 04/03/2017: Seven days in medicine
Dietary therapy for irritable bowel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the digestive system, affecting approximately 10% of the global population. The most popular treatment option among patients in recent years has been a dietary approach, the “low FODMAP diet.” The term FODMAP refers to fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. This broad dietary class includes fructose (in fruits/sweeteners, lactose (in dairy products), fructans (wheat based products), and galacto-oligosaccharides (legumes). The full spectrum of FODMAPs may not be responsible for symptoms in a given patient. An experienced dietitian can help manage patients on a low FODMAP diet and facilitate controlled reintroduction of individual components.
Fruit and vegetable consumption in adolescence and early adulthood and risk of breast cancer
Studies suggest that higher intake of fruit during adolescence could reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Body mass index and mortality: patters and paradoxes
The bottom line of this research is that you are at least at risk of dying if your BMI is between 20 and 22.
How smaller portion sizes might help tackle obesity
People consistently consume more food or non-alcoholic drinks when offered larger size portions or when they use larger tableware.
Advice on safe alcohol drinking may be about right
The US National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has advised that women should drink no more than the equivalent of 4.5 units/day or 10.5 units/week and that men should drink no more than
6 units/day or 21 units/week. For those over 65 years the American Geriatric Society has defined high risk drinking as more than 4.5 units/day or 10.5 units/week in men and women. Australian guidelines for this age group recommend no more than 2.5 units/day for men and women.
NICE recommends small improvements to help people stay at a healthy weight
Making any improvements, however small, to physical activity or dietary habits is likely to help individuals stay at a healthy weight or prevent further weight gain.
NICE recommends small improvements to help people stay at healthy weight (BMJ 2015;350:h1427)
Have you ever wondered, when you lose weight, where does the fat go?
Most people believe that fat is converted to energy or heat, which violates the law of conservation of mass. The authors suspect this misconception is caused by the energy in/energy out mantra. They have calculated that the lungs are the primary excretory organ for fat. Losing weight requires unlocking the carbon stored in fat cells thus reinforcing that often heard refrain “eat less move more.”
Fruit and vegetable consumption in relation to mortality
A report in the British Medical Journal sought to ask the question about the association between the consumption of fruit and vegetables and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
The answer, not surprisingly, showed that higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of mortality from all causes, particularly cardiovascular disease. Higher consumption was not however appreciably associated with cancer mortality. The bottom line therefore is to continue to consume palatable quantities of fruit and vegetables in our diet.
Article about Anorexia Nervosa: published in Tatler Magazine
Reset your breakfast routine and wake up to the health benefits of breakfast cereals
It has long been documented that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but one in five of all adults and children are still skipping breakfast, which amounts to lower energy levels and poor concentration. Can you imagine the damage this is doing to the productivity levels of the school and working population? Research has shown that eating a good breakfast has an even bigger part to play in disease prevention and weight management over the longer term.
Still don’t have time for breakfast?
So ditch the excuses today and invest in some whole grain breakfast cereals to start your day and give your body the nutrition it needs. It only takes ten minutes to eat a bowl of cereal in the morning, and you could well be banking more energy for a more fulfilling and productive day.
Eat more cereals and lower your BMI
The evidence is stacking up in favour of breakfast cereals as they represent an important source of fibre and whole grains which are associated to lowering the risk of obesity, and the low GI of many breakfast cereals (when taken with milk) could also have a positive impact on appetite control.
Ideas for a perfect breakfast:
1. Whole rolled oats porridge with 200ml low fat milk and 80g berries
2. Wholegrain breakfast cereal (e.g. bran flakes, shredded wheat, Weetabix) + banana and 200ml low fat milk
3. Wholegrain bread/toast + 2 eggs + grilled tomato + 125ml low fat yoghurt with 80g berries
4. Smoothie made from lots of green vegetables (cucumber/kale/spinach etc) + 1 serving fruit (e.g. apple/pineapple/melon) + 2 tbsp oatbran + 1 tbsp linseeds + protein powder
So make the switch and take some time to think about breakfast! Go to www.breakfastcereal.org for more facts and information on ideas for a healthy breakfast.
Characteristics of surgeons and patient’s outcomes
It is pleasing to note that if you are operated on by an older surgeon you have slightly lower operative mortality than with a younger surgeon. However, operative mortality does not differ between male and female surgeons. Go for the older surgeon every time!
The 100,000 Genomes Project: bringing whole genome sequencing to the NHS
In February 2018, 50,000 genomes were sequenced within the NHS. NHS England is establishing a genomic medicine service to deliver systematic access to genomic tests, including whole genome sequencing. This will be of particular importance to children with rare diseases and the genome sequencing of tumour tissue which can inform selection of treatments for cancer.
The postman knocks
In Jersey a Call and Check scheme has been adopted whereby the local postman knocks on the door and has a brief chat to ensure the occupant is alright. What a good idea.
Falls in older people – can we really make a difference?
Around a third of over 65s and half of over 80s fall at least once a year, and half fall again in the same year. Falls are the leading cause of death from injury in over 70s and account for around half of all hospital admission for injury. Even “minor” soft tissue injuries can be disabling in frailer older people, and falls can lead to loss of confidence and independence. Falls lead to fractures, including around 80,000 hip fractures a year in the UK and a further 200,000 non-hip fractures.
Saunas and strokes
There are more than two million saunas in Finland. In a recent study it has been demonstrated that the more often people use saunas, the less likely they are to have strokes. Middle aged and elderly people who took more than four saunas a week had half the stroke risk of people who took only one sauna a week. Apparently there is evidence that saunas lower blood pressure, improve lipid profiles and reduce arterial stiffness and vascular resistance.
Paget’s disease of bone
A survey in Britain in the 1970s estimated the prevalence of Paget’s disease as 5% and this is now approximately 1%. How remarkable that a disease should vanish before its causes are understood. The causes are most likely infection and the reason for the reduction is reduced infection rates.
Toenails grow at a rate of only a couple of millimetres/month, therefore long toenails mean that they have not been cut for quite a while. Possible reasons include declining physical function, depression, cognitive impairment, and lack of support from care givers. Toenails in older people might be considered an indicator of how things have been going over the previous few months.
“No respite” for NHS as heatwave exacerbates pressure on services
Latest performance figures show that the NHS continues to struggle against key performance targets. NHS leaders said that this summer’s heatwave in the UK had offered “no respite” and had put added pressure on already overstretched services. For example: in July 2018 1.4 million people attended an emergency department in England, the highest number in a summer month since reporting began in 2010 and a 4.9% increase compared with July 2017.
Is life expectancy in rich countries reversing?
A retrospective observational study has identified that most of the high income countries studied experienced recent and simultaneous declines in life expectancy. Although many of these countries rebounded and experienced gains in life expectancy during 2015-16, substantial enough to offset the declines during 2014-15, the US and the United Kingdom did not, and they continue to face adverse conditions.
Royal College of Physicians: Census of consultant physicians and higher specialty trainees 2017-18
45% of advertised consultant posts went unfilled due to a lack of suitable applicants.
Comment: Do we have enough medical student training places to reverse this trend?
UK life expectancy did not improve in 2015 to 2017 and remained at 79.2 years (males) and 82.9 years (females). It fell by 0.1 years for males and females in Scotland and Wales, and for males in Northern Ireland.
Office for National Statistics
Trivalent vaccine no use against influenza B strain
Public Health England influenza vaccination programme has been disappointing this year with poor patient education and much conflicting evidence for its efficacy. Now we know that the trivalent vaccine was of no use against influenza B strain that appears to be predominantly circulating this year.
Influenza infection may raise MI risk in first seven days
The risk of myocardial infarction is six times higher in the first seven days of a laboratory confirmed influenza diagnosis, research in the New England Journal of Medicine found. The risk is highest in older adults, people with influenza B infections, and patients have a first MI. The Canadian researchers said the findings reinforce the importance of vaccination and that patients should not delay evaluation for heart symptoms, particularly in the first week of an acute respiratory infection.
Low cigarette consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
Smoking approximately one cigarette a day carries a much greater than expected risk of developing coronary heart disease and stroke, around half that for people who smoke 20 cigarettes a day.
Feeling it in your bones: association between rain and joint or back pain
- Data on millions of outpatient visits of older Americans linked to data on daily rainfall showed no clinically meaningful relation between daily rainfall and outpatient visits for joint or back pain.
- No statistically significant relation was found between the proportion of claims for joint or back pain in any given week and weekly rainfall.
Choose a female surgeon
Patients treated by female surgeons had significantly lower 30 day mortality than those treated by male surgeons and similar surgical outcomes (i.e. length of stay, complications, and readmission).
How the month of your birth can affect which diseases will afflict you
Spanish scientists mapped birth months to 27 chronic diseases to see if it made a difference and were surprised to find it has a significant impact for some conditions. Women born in November and December, and men in March, May, June, November and December were not susceptible to musculoskeletal diseases, confirming my observation that all people are susceptible to musculoskeletal diseases.
You know, the CEP. Close friend of the STP, the IFR, and the RTT.It is the capped expenditure process – another lovely phrase straight from the NHS Acronym Referral Site for England (ARSE).
It is a way of ensuring that “those geographies that are significantly out of balance now confront the difficult choices they have to take.”
It has been put on hold; but not really, NHS finances are still Full of Underlying Cost Deficits (FUC…you get the picture).
Pass me an anti-boredom pill, please doctor
Evidence suggests that almost half our time is spend mind-wandering and that negative mind-wandering is associated with unhappiness. One patient suggested, “Boredom has probably been my biggest problem and enemy.” Surprisingly, patient boredom is missed entirely in NICE’s report on the patient experience.
Ennui is associated with time passing slowly; a lack of meaning, challenge, and focus; and even higher mortality rates.
Could boredom affect recovery, pain, fatigue, and relationships with staff?
The time has come to make the most of precious time in hospital.
BMJ Opinion July 2017;358:77
Increase in life expectancy in England has halted
The increase in life expectancy in England has almost “ground to a halt” since 2010 and austerity measures are likely to be a contributor, a leading expert on public health has said. The warning came from Michael Marmot, director at University College London’s Institute of Health Equity, after new indicators showed that the rate of increase in life expectancy in England has almost halved since 2010 and it close to stalling.
Medicolegal negligence claims rise 14%
The NHS paid out more than £1.08 billion in damages to claimants in 2016-17, up £132 million (14%) on the previous year, a report by NHS Resolution (formerly the NHS Litigation Authority) showed. This was despite a 2.5% fall in new clinical negligence claims, to 10,686.
BMJ July 2017: page 128
Keeping up with the Johanssons:
How the UK’s health spending tallies with the rest of Europe
- The UK spends roughly the same on health as the average of other EU-15 countries.
- Its spending on different areas of care is also in line with EU averages.
- Decisions about the appropriate amount to spend on health require more than a simple comparison with other countries.
Noisy knees may be early sign of osteoarthritis
During a four year US study, 75% of the 646 patients who developed symptomatic osteoarthritis had signs of osteoarthritis on x-ray but no knee pain at the start of the study. The odds of developing symptomatic osteoarthrosis were higher with greater frequency of self-reported crepitus.
The World Happiness Report 2017 says that Norway is the happiest country in the world. The USA ranks 14th of 155 countries, the UK is 19th, and France is 31st. The Central African Republic is last.
Migraine and risk of perioperative ischaemic stroke and hospital readmission
Patients with migraine, and in particular migraine with aura, are at increased risk of perioperative ischaemic stroke and 30-day hospital readmission after surgery. Migraine should be incorporated in the perioperative stroke risk assessment.
More talk, less action
The Choosing Wisely campaign in the UK, launched by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges in October 2016, lists 40 tests and treatments that are unlikely to benefit patients. The campaign aims to encourage doctors and patients to have a conversation about the risks and benefits of interventions.
Five questions patients should ask their doctor or nurse to make better decisions together:
1. Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
2. What are the risks or downsides?
3. What are the possible side effects?
4. Are there simpler, safer options?
5. What will happen if I do nothing?
Keeping pace with society
The UK has an ageing population – the median age rose from 33.9 years in 1974 to 40 years in 2014, a rise of 6.1 years. By 2024, there are predicted to be more people aged over 65 than aged 0-15. The number of people living with multiple chronic conditions is also growing rapidly. In England, this is forecast to have increased from 1.9 million in 2008 to 2.9 million by 2018.
Cost of smoking
Smoking consumes almost 6% of the world’s healthcare spending, and nearly 2% of global GDP, and nearly 40% of the £1156 billion cost is borne by developing countries. Would you believe it, but in Norway and Sweden, SNUS is a form of tobacco that is sold in pouches and stuck under the top lip, and some people claim to find this sexy! The author is not sure that whiffy breath and lots of pouch litter are ever going to be sexy outside Sweden, but stranger things have happened such as self-assembly furniture!
Dutch and Swiss top Euro health index, with UK languishing mid-table
For the third year running, the Netherlands and Switzerland lead the way in providing good consumer friendly healthcare, as judged by the 2016 Euro Health Consumer Index. For your information – the UK came 15th.
Explaining laboratory test results to patients: what the clinician needs to know
Minor test abnormalities in well people may have no clinical relevance. By definition, 5% of healthy people will have test results that fall just outside the 95% healthy population reference interval.
Outside of formal screening programmes, speculative screening tests in well asymptomatic people have little value and may result in over-investigation and unnecessary treatment.
GP job satisfaction
GPs become less positive about their job prospects the further they progress in their careers, while surgeons become more positive, researchers from the University of Oxford have found.
The researchers surveyed 37,332 doctors in nine cohorts of medical graduates from 1974, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2008. Questionnaires were sent to the doctors at different times after graduation ranging from 3-24 years and received responses from 20,940 doctors.
There are many theories; mine is that surgeons are just late developers.
BMJ Careers 24/09/16 (page 458)
The Royal College of Physicians – five point plan for the next government
Jane Dacre, the new President of the Royal College of Physicians and Rheumatologists, is spearheading the RCP’s five-point plan for the next government. These are as follows:
- Remove the financial and structural barriers to joined-up care.
- Invest now to deliver good care in the future.
- Prioritise what works in the NHS and improve what doesn’t.
- Promote public health through evidence-based legislation.
- Adopt the Future Hospital model as a template for service redesign.
Membership magazine of the Royal College of Physicians (June 2015;issue 3:4)
And finally for your amusement – Darwin Awards: sex differences in idiotic behaviour
A review of the winners of the Darwin Award over a 20 year period has recently been published. Winners of the Darwin Award must eliminate themselves from the gene pool in such an idiotic manner that their action ensures one less idiot will survive. The paper reported a marked sex difference in Darwin Award winners: males are significantly more likely to receive the award than females. This finding is entirely consistent with “male idiot theory” (MIT) and supports the hypothesis that men are idiots and idiots do stupid things. Examples of male idiot theory are the man who attempted to get home by hitching a shopping trolley to the back of a train, and a terrorist who posted a letter bomb with insufficient postage stamps and who, when it was returned, unthinkingly opened his own letter.
The Darwin Awards: sex differences in idiotic behaviour (BMJ 2014;349:g7094)
No holds barred – what I have learnt over the years
• If it is not evidence based it might as well be homeopathy.
• Doctors should call out bollocksology when they see it.
Two of 31 observations made by Mary McCartney on her retirement from the BMJ.
Alf Collins, Clinical Director for Personalised Care, NHS England
- What do you wish that you had known when you were younger?
Answer: If you try too hard to please people you often end up both compromising yourself and disappointing them.
Martin Griffiths, Meritorian soul boy
- What personal ambition do you still have?
Answer: To make all of my colleagues laugh on the same day.
Vladimir Hachinski, Stroke prevention polymath
- Is the thought of retirement a dream or a nightmare?
Answer: A nightmare for my wife.
Ann Louise Kinmonth
It is hard to better Donald Winnicott’s prayer, “May I be alive when I die.”
Prof Timothy Evans
- What is your pet hate?
Physicians who tell patients, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but it’s not your (insert organ of specialisation),” before sending them back to their GP.
No Holds Barred: Margaret McCarthy
The NHS is being allowed to fail. This is not simply a matter of underfunding but also of what we spend our money on. The time for short term political populism must be over. It’s either evidence based policy making, starting with how we treat the staff, or no more NHS.
Mr Paul Marks (neurosurgeon)
- Where does alcohol fit into your life?
I adhere to the old adage that a person doesn’t have a problem with alcohol if he drinks less than his doctor.
- What is your pet hate?
Colleagues whose confidence is inversely proportional to their ability.
Voltaire (1694 – 1778)
“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”
What was the worst mistake in your career?
Answer: I have made so many bad mistakes that I am not sure of the worst. Once you have made a few, however, you begin to recognize that each brings a learning opportunity.
Do you support doctor assisted suicide?
Answer: I prefer to live (and die) with the ambiguity of the principle of double effect, namely, that it’s defensible to give treatment with the intention of alleviating suffering, even if the treatment hastens death.