Considering Medical Treatment in the Ukraine

Many publications state the services provided by the NHS has become worse over the last few years. And it may not change for some time.

British hospitals are so overloaded that some patients sometimes wait weeks for their appointment and even months. There are some articles describing beds being located in the hospital corridors.

A high-quality health care for those who have no insurance package might become an unreachable luxury, especially if we think about dentistry or laser eye surgery.

As such, some UK patients are searching for a more affordable treatment. Medical tourism was born many years ago and has been successfully developing over the last decade not only in the UK, but in other developed countries as well.

There are numerous health tourism destinations, but in this article we would like to talk about Ukraine and the medical services which this state can propose for the British people.

Conceivably, few of our readers know much about Ukraine. Therefore, we propose some facts about this country.

  • Ukraine is the largest European country.
  • It can be surprising that the geographic centre of Europe is located in Ukraine – in the Zakarpattya region.
  • 2018 UEFA Champions League Final was held in Kyiv – Ukrainian capital. Many European tourists mentioned the beauty of the city, high level of organizing and a sincere hospitality of Ukrainians.
  • Eurovision Song Contest 2005 and 2017 took place also in Kyiv.
  • UEFA Euro 2012 was co-hosted by Ukraine and Poland.

So, there is no doubt that Ukraine is the most “European” country among all former-USSR countries. And hundreds of tourists from all over the world come to Ukraine every day.

Several low-costs operate in Ukraine. For example, a return flight London-Kyiv-London with Ryanair costs £59 / €67 only. For comparison, the price of London-Budapest-London route is around £68 / €77!

It is necessary to mention that no visa is required for the UK and Irish citizens if they come to Ukraine for up to 90 days.

A great number of medical students from Asia, Middle East and Africa are studying in many Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv and Kyiv. They choose Ukraine for graduation because of the very high quality of education and low prices.

It’s not just in the Ukraine where people are turning to for medical treatments, for instance many British citizens are seeking medical treatment as far afield as India, and Turkey has become a popular affordable choice for hair transplants (what to expect after a hair tranplant in Turkey).

The level of medical care in Ukraine is on the European level in terms of doctors’ qualification and medical equipment installed in the hospitals.

Ukrainian medical specialists regularly participate at the international medical forums and conferences enriching the world medical science and establishing new perspective trends.

The medical equipment, such as MRI and CT scanners, dental units, implants and appliances, LASIK equipment is the same supplied into the UK and Ukraine. The brands, such as Siemens, GE, Sirona, Alcon, Karl Storz are routine in medical practice of Ukrainian and European hospitals.

Based on this, we would consider Ukraine as the country which can offer the high-quality medical care, if we are talking about the medical centres and hospitals located in large cities, like Kyiv and Kharkiv.

There are some Ukrainian medical tourism agencies which care about all the aspects of health tour of the tourist who come from abroad. One of those is “Medical Ukraine” medical tourism agency

They solve all your problems when you get the treatment and/or diagnostics in the Ukrainian hospital.

Medical Ukraine:

  • Prepares and schedules the program of your diagnostics and treatment

  • Selects and books accommodation: apartment, hotel or hostel

  • Provides the escort at the medical centres and personal interpreter during all the medical appointments

  • 24 Hour support in emergency cases

  • Provides you with the certified translation of all the medical documentation which you get in Ukraine. So, you are able to use it later in the UK

  • Provides your airport transfer

  • Organizes leisure activities and cares about your diet

Just to give you the idea about the prices of medical services in Ukraine, some figures:

  • Dental implantation “all included”: implant, abutment, crown. From £363 / €410
  • Root canal treatment – from £13 / €15
  • Braces – from £133 / €150
  • Veneer Emax – from £239 / €270. Crown and installation are included

Materials used are: Straumann, Nobel Biocare, NeoBiotech, 3M, Ormco, etc.

  • Cataract treatment – from £301 / €340
  • Glaucoma surgery – £319 / €360

Equipment and materials used are: Alcon, Karl Zeiss, Tomey, etc.

  • MRI – from £49 / €55
  • CT – £27 / €30
  • Ultrasound – from £7 / €8
  • Laboratory tests – from £2.7 / €3
  • Check-up – £115 / €130


Investigation is fulfilled on the scanners Siemens, Philips, GE, Roche, etc.

More details can be found here:


So, why not come to Ukraine for an affordable check-up for just £115 / €130?

It is impossible to find prices for such a set of diagnostic procedures in the UK!!!

More details can be found here:

and here:


Or, maybe, it is time to get rid of your glasses with LASIK for £261 / €295?

Medical Ukraine will thoroughly evaluate your clinical case and schedule the appointment with the best doctors, PhD and MD. Many of them have the experience of practicing in the USA and Europe.

Please contact us via e-mail:

or Tel./Viber/WahtsApp: +380687430487

We are sure that after your first visit you will return to us again and again, like many of our patients have done!

Ways To Keep Fit In Later Life

Without actively maintaining fitness and strength, day to day tasks can become increasingly difficult to carry out. A sedentary lifestyle in later life can produce major health implications, affecting everything from our bones, mobility and even eyesight.

It’s recommended that people over 65 should aim to spend 150 minutes on exercise each week, there are ways to stay fit no matter your age or ability. We have noted fun and different ways stay active as you age.

The Importance Of Diet

A healthy and balanced diet goes hand in hand with keeping fit. Food is what we use to fuel our bodies so eating the right types will give us with the energy needed to be active.

A poor diet can have emotional effects as well as physical, with studies highlighting a link between improvements in depression and anxiety when better eating habits are introduced. Changing the way you eat, opting for a more balanced and nutritional menu can help you avoid bad moods, lethargy, aches, pains and low energy levels.

Eating healthy simply begins with being more mindful,  this can mean taking a little more time to consider the types of foods you are purchasing, the size of your portions and keeping an eye out for consuming too much of a particular food group.

Types of Exercises

To get the most out of your exercise, you’ll want to stick to activities which increase your heart rate but are also low impact. High impact sports and exercise require some recovery time, therefore, a person may not be able to consistently do them. As consistency is key for fitness in later life, it is recommended that people over the age of 65 do activities which are considered low – moderate intensity, these types of exercises can be completed regularly and safely.

As you build your strength you can slowly work your way up to more intense exercises for a longer duration of time, challenging yourself as your body gradually adjusts to the change. Many people are surprised at how quickly activities they once struggled with now require little effort and energy, however, it’s always best to consult your GP before increasing your activity levels.


Increasing the number of steps you take in a day is a great way to improve your fitness levels without much planning or the need for any specialist equipment. Brisk walking is the best way to get your heart rate going, it involves walking at a faster pace than you typically would.

Walking exercise can be completed in a number of locations, a 15 minute brisk walking around your garden in the morning can help get your muscles warmed up for the day ahead, combine exercise and leisure by walking around and taking in the beauty of your local parks.Community walking clubs are also a superb way to socialise while you exercise, group exercise can help encourage and motivate you.

At-home Exercises
Exercises you can complete in your home are excellent as they allow you to keep active whilst remaining comfortable. Regular at-home exercises can improve your strength, flexibility, and stamina. Pieces of the furniture in your home can be utilised as tools to aid your activity and the weight of your body for resistance.

Exercises completed from sitting positions improve many aspects of your fitness including posture and back strength. Sitting exercises use the muscles in your upper body and work wonderfully for people with existing mobility issues.

An example of a sitting exercise :

Upper Body Twist

  1. Seated on upright on a 4 legged chair, place your feet flat on the floor, cross your arms and place your hands on your shoulde
  2. Using your upper body turn your torso left as far is can go, never twist so far it becomes uncomfortable.
  3. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat.

The upper body twist can help you build and maintain strength in your back and shoulders.

Standing is important for health, it encourages good circulation in the lower half of your body, with some studies indicating that standing for periods of the day can reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, and metabolic conditions.

An example of a standing exercise  that can improve your fitness levels :

Sideways bends

  1. Standing up, position your feet hip-width apart, placing your arms on either side of you.
  2. Slide your left arm downwards towards the floor. Never slide so far it becomes uncomfortable.
  3. Repeat this move using your right arm on the opposite side of your body.

Heavy Gardening – This is an enjoyable at home activity that can also be counted towards your daily activity. Heavy gardening can be used as a form of resistance training without the need for high spec gym equipment.

Moderately large and heavy pots can be used as a substitute for weights, helping you build strength as you pretty your garden.

Exercising in water is a fantastic way to keep fit as you age, water provides relief during exercise, as less stress will be placed on your joints. People will often find that they are able to complete more activities in water for longer durations -so much so, water exercise provide pain relief for people with arthritis

We’ve listed some water exercises that are enjoyable and help you maintain fitness:

Swimming – Swimming laps raises heart rate and provides an overall work out for your body, strengthening your lungs and heart in the process. Your local leisure centre will likely have swimming sessions for different ability levels.

Water Aerobics – Water aerobics uses dancing to get your heart pumping, these sessions typically last between 45-60 minutes, 2 water aerobic sessions a week would put you well on track to hit the goal of 150 minutes of exercise.

Water Balance Exercises – A high number of people over the age of 65 have falls and accidentsmany falls are due to poor balance, the injuries sustained from falls can greatly affect mobility for years to come. Water balance exercise such as water Yoga and Tai Chi can help you improve your balance, the water will provide support whilst you build strength and control. These types of classes are very useful in helping older people maintain independence and are also brilliant for well-being and relaxation.

Adding simple exercises to your daily routine can have a lasting impact on your health as you age.Once the change is adopted, increased physical activity will just become a normal thing to do. Many people are motivated to keep up their fitness routine as they recognise the change in themselves – better moods, and increased physical strength can give a person confidence and a new vivaciousness for life. The long-term benefits of fitness for older people are extensive, exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way in warding off degenerative diseases such as dementia, reduces the risk of medical conditions that lead to stroke such as hypertension, and limits the risk of falls and subsequent mobility issues.


The Good Care Group is a Live-in care provider rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission. We provide excellent care, support and companionship to help you continue to live safely and comfortably in your home. Find out more about live-in care by The Good Care Group by visiting or contact us on 020 3728 7575

Newman to feature at Birmingham ‘City Drive’ Social Enterprise Event

On Friday 27th April Newman University’s Enterprise team will be attending the flagship social enterprise event and celebration of Birmingham as a Social Enterprise City.

The event is part of a week long programme run by iSE, the social enterprise experts who aim to provide development opportunities for social enterprises, community organisations and not for profits in Birmingham and beyond. The event, named City Drive will showcase the social enterprises which exist within Birmingham and aims to raise awareness, create market opportunities, promote volunteering opportunities, work experience and employment within the sector.

City Drive has 5 calls to action: buy from a Social Enterprise; start a social enterprise; work in a social enterprise; volunteer in a social enterprise; and invest in a social enterprise.

Kevin Griffiths, Enterprise and Employer Engagement Manager at Newman University commented “Birmingham has more social enterprises than any other UK city outside of London.  Here at Newman we recognise the value of this sector and actively seek to partner with and support new, established and aspirant enterprises. Our expertise in the field makes us the partner of choice for a growing number of social enterprises.  We are proud of our contribution to the success of the sector.”

Newman will be promoting our services as a working partner and provider of consultancy services at our stall on the day.

The event is open to anyone with an interest in this sector and will take place at The Council House in Birmingham between 10:30am and 12:30pm.

For further information visit the iSE website.

Health Mentors receive recognition from Vice Chancellor

Newman University, Birmingham provides a short course for Health Mentors at its campus in Bartley Green.

The one year part-time course was developed with social impact company, Evolve and prides itself on being an innovative staff training programme. The level 4 course provides bespoke training for Health Mentors deployed into schools by Evolve, providing opportunities to study in groups, complete work shadowing and to partake in independent work placements.

The course aims to promote the development of students’ intellectual and key skills to enable them to progress with their studies and provide them with the necessary preparation for employment, further professional training and academic study.

This year a cohort of six students successfully completed the course which was celebrated on Thursday 12th April at the university campus with an awards evening.

The students celebrated their achievements along with their tutor Dr Simon Bicknell and Vice Chancellor of Newman University, Professor Scott Davidson.

Dr Simon Bicknell commented, “The short course for Health Mentors is an exciting and innovative development for Newman University. This course not only provides us with the opportunity to work closely with our colleagues from Evolve, but also, by training the next generation of Health Mentors, to make an impact on the lives of school children across the country.”

For further information on the Health Mentors course, you can visit the Newman University website.

Local patients using innovative NHS app to get advice on healthcare

An innovative app is proving very popular with patients across the West Midlands who need advice on where to go and what to do if they have an urgent healthcare concern.

Launched a year ago, Ask NHS is a free smartphone app giving patients more flexibility in accessing healthcare advice and support. The app is very user-friendly and patients can get confidential advice based on their symptoms from Olivia, a virtual nurse. They can also search for health services and book GP appointments.

The Ask NHS app now has around 85,000 users across the 22 CCGs in the West Midlands, covering approximately 800 GP practices and a population of 5.5 million. More women (64%) use the app than men and as expected, the app is most popular with younger people (70%+ under the age of 45).

There have been 165,000 digital interactions with the Ask NHS app over the past year. This means that patients have used the app 165,000 times instead of accessing other NHS services like NHS 111 and GP services, which reduces pressure on these services.

The Ask NHS app’s symptom checker is proving to be particularly popular and can advise patients on how to take care of themselves as well as signposting them to their GP or another service if necessary. Over 50,000 symptom checker assessments have been completed through the app.

Rachael Ellis, Chief Officer of the transformation team at Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG and lead on the West Midlands Integrated Urgent Care Alliance says:

“The Ask NHS app is a really useful alternative for patients who need to obtain urgent advice on their health. They can receive advice 24 hours a day wherever they are and without them having to wait for or attend a GP appointment or going to A&E unless this is really necessary. This reduces the demand on GPs and on A&E departments so that they can concentrate on helping people with more complex needs and saves patients time and money.”

“Feedback on the app has been extremely positive, with the majority of users finding it easy or extremely easy to download and register, the symptom checker easy or extremely easy to use and GP appointment booking or cancelling extremely easy.”

Feedback from patients has included:

“I really do like your Ask NHS app. It helped me when I was having an asthma attack and i could not talk and it rang 111 for me and they got the ambulance for me as well. This app can save people lives when they need it. Thank you for doing the app.” Vicky Barnsley from Erdington

“This is REALLY useful app as it helps you to minimise a trip to A&E or even more helpful is that the app can arrange a call back from an actual LIVE clinician!!” Tia Emerson from Walsall

“I found it quite useful and in my view it will help the NHS organise and prioritise who should be called first. Instead of waiting on the phone and putting pressure on the line they will call you back whenever they can. Perfect for me.” Nour Morjan from Telford

The app is free to download from both Google and iOS App Store (4 out 5 rating) and is in the Top 10 – Mobile Apps in UK under Medical Category.

The Ask NHS app has been commissioned by the West Midlands Integrated Urgent Care Alliance on behalf of all of the clinical commissioning groups in the West Midlands.

The Low Down on Nerve Agents by Natasha Osborn Patel

nerve agents

nerve agents

Introduction to the Salisbury attack?

Nerve agents have made many news headlines following the poisoning of Russian spy Sergei Skripal,66, and his 33-Year old daughter Yulia in Salisbury on the 4th March. Whilst there is no doubt this attack will have political implications for Russia’s relationship with the West there are still questions surrounding the short and long-term effects of nerve agents on the body, their previous use and the risk they pose to the public.

What are nerve agents?

Nerve agents are chemicals usually liquid at room temperature with little or no smell that act on the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system(nerves and ganglia) disrupting nerve transmissions to organs. Exposure to nerve agents is most likely to occur through inhalation or exposure to eyes or upper respiratory tract tissue. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine stimulates muscles and is then broken down by the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Some nerve agents stop acetylcholinesterase from breaking down acetylcholine causing excessive amounts of acetylcholine to build up at muscles resulting in muscle paralysis which can cause loss of movement resulting in death from respiratory failure.

What Short effects do they have on the body?

Immediate effects to nerve agent exposure after high or intermediate level include:

  • miosis (constriction of the pupils)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • seizures
  • nose and mouth secretions

Effects after 30 minutes of exposure include:

  • paralysis

What Long term effects do they have on the body?

The long-term effects of exposure to nerve agents at a high and possibly intermediate-level can cause significant long-term neurological and neuropsychological outcomes that include delayed neuropathy. Neuropathy is defined as the disease or dysfunction of nerves which can result in weakness and numbness.

When have nerve agents been used before?

Nerve agents are considered a type of chemical warfare and banned in the Chemical Weapons Conventions in 1997 which banned the stockpiling, development and use of nerve agents. This was signed by Russia, USA and 163 other countries. They have previously been used in terrorist attacks in Japan in 1994 and 1995 where the nerve agent Sarin was released resulting in the deaths of 19 people and putting over 6,000 in the hospital.

What is the antidote?

After high or intermediate level exposure to a nerve agent an antidote must be administered as soon as possible. Antidotes to nerve agents include atropine and pralidoxime which work by clearing the nerve agent, reversing the amount of acetylcholine and reactivating the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Additionally, drugs such as diazepam are often needed as well as artificial respiration and supportive therapy.

What Nerve agent was used in the Salisbury attack?

Personnel from the Defence Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Centre at Porton Down in Wiltshire identified the nerve agent as Novichok.Novichok is a choline esterase inhibitor which effects are very rapid, believed to be 5-10 times more toxic than the nerve agent VX and very difficult to treat.

Danger of Novichok to the Public?

As well as Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal police officer Det Sgt Nick Bailey was also treated in hospital after exposure to the nerve agent but was released on the 22 March. A futher 48 people were assessed in hospital after the Salisbury attack and up to 500 people who went to the Mill pub or Zizzi restaurant in Salisbury on Sunday 4th March or Monday 5th have been told to wash their clothes and possessions. Futhermore 180 military personal have been sent to remove vehicles and objects that may have been contaminated.However Terrorism Police UK have urged that the threat to them is minimal and “the public should not be alarmed and the public health advice remains the same” and Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies has reassured the public that “health risk to the residents of Salisbury remains low”.

Political Consequences?

Following the incident, The UK have expelled 23 Russian diplomats. The European Council have supported this decision issuing a statement agreeing with the UK that it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the attacks. Internationally 27 countries both in and outside Europe are set to expel Russian diplomats. Theresa May stated “This will be the single biggest expulsion for over thirty years and it reflects the fact that this is not the first time that the Russian State has acted against our country.” The UK claims that not only do they have evidence that Russia have violated the chemical weapons convention, but they have also been behind several other assassinations in the UK such as the murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Russia deny these allegations are set to expel over 60 diplomats from different countries and have issued 14 questions to the UK following the Salisbury attack.


Article by University of Birmingham intern Natasha Osborn Patel

University of Derby postgraduate healthcare students receive funding fees boost

Students applying for postgraduate pre-registration nursing and healthcare courses at the University of Derby will now have access to the same funding as undergraduate students following the announcement of new government legislation.

Postgraduate pre-registration students starting courses in the 2018/19 academic year, can access a tuition fee loan of up to £8,430 and a maintenance loan of up to £8,700 per academic year to help meet tuition fees and support living costs.

Like undergraduates, postgraduate pre-registration students will also be eligible for additional support from the Learning Support Fund, including a £1,000 Child Dependants Allowance, up to £3,000 for exceptional hardship, and support for placement costs.

Applicants can choose from four postgraduate pre-registration courses at the University, including for the MSc Nursing (Adult), MSc Nursing (Mental Health), MSc Occupational Therapy and MSc Diagnostic Radiography. To be eligible for the two year courses, applicants must have some healthcare experience and hold an undergraduate degree, not necessarily in healthcare.

Dr Paula Holt, Pro Vice-Chancellor Dean of the College of Health and Social Care, said: “This new access to student loan funding is great news for postgraduate students and the NHS. As demand on the NHS grows, so does the need for a skilled, competent and caring professional workforce. We know we have a workforce shortfall in health and social care to meet future needs, and this is not because there are insufficient people wanting to come into health professions.

“The availability of funding for those who want to become a nurse or health care professional and already have a degree is very welcome, allowing them to become registered professionals in two years at Masters level.”

Dr Wendy Wesson, Head of School for Nursing and Professional Practice, added: “The changes to funding will provide the opportunity for graduates from a wide variety of backgrounds to achieve a registered professional qualification that will open up a plethora of opportunities, and set them up for a rewarding career for life.”

The new legislation brings funding support in line with changes made in August 2017, which meant new students were now funded through the standard loans system rather than through the NHS bursary scheme.

The aim of the reform is to provide a more sustainable model for universities while increasing the supply of nurses, midwives and allied health professionals to the NHS.

For more information about studying pre-registration nursing and allied health profession courses at the University of Derby, click here.

Smart Cells supports Rare Disease Day 2018 with social campaign

There are more than 6000 known rare diseases and over 30 million people living daily with them. 28th February marks Rare Disease Day 2018, a date that highlights awareness around these conditions and the need for more research into them. Private cord blood company, Smart Cells, has chosen to support Rare Disease Day this year by running a social media campaign across their platforms.

If you’re living with a rare disease, which is defined by the European Union as one which affects less than 1 in 2000 people, you might feel alone with your condition. Treatments and cures can be few and far between; misdiagnoses and delayed treatment for rare diseases are common. This is due to the rarity of the conditions meaning that the opportunity to research them is so small, and scientific knowledge surrounding them is lacking.

The theme for this year’s Rare Disease Day is research and patient participation. Encouraging healthcare professionals, policy makers and researchers to seize the opportunity for research with current patients can make a world of difference to developments for those being diagnosed or treated currently and in the future.

This is why Smart Cells have chosen to show their support for Rare Disease Day 2018. Thanks to occasions like this, awareness has increased significantly. The first Rare Disease Day events took place in 2008 in just 18 countries; in 2017, 94 countries participated. Several conditions that Smart Cells’ audience live with can be categorised as rare diseases, and so their campaign aims to increase their awareness of what is being done to support them as well as encouraging them to participate in research that could potentially help future patients with these conditions.

Smart Cells’ social media campaign aims to cover the following four bases:

·         What is Rare Disease Day?

·         What can you do to help for Rare Disease Day?

·         What is a rare disease?

·         Two examples of rare diseases: Thalassemia Major and Severe Combined Immunodeficiency.

The imagery will be shared on Smart Cells’ blog and social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – in the run up to Rare Disease Day 2018 and on the day itself.

The complications of smoking long term on your health

Dangers of Smoking

Dangers of Smoking

10 million people smoke in the UK however although it is commonly acknowledged that smoking is bad for your health many people do not know the extent of damage with the UK society of Psychiatrists describing it as the “the biggest and most avoidable cause of death in the UK.” As 100,000 people die from smoking every year in the UK. Futhermore smoking is costly for the individual and society a someone who smokes in the UK spends on average £3000 a year on cigarettes and smoking is estimated to cost the NHS £2 billion a year.

Although smoking has generally declined among the population in recent years there has been an increased interest in Electronic cigarettes among the younger generation. With the amount of young people vaping doubling between 2011 and 2012 in the US. Although manufacturers have been criticised for trying to encourage younger people to smoke by adding a variety of different flavours to their products such as grape, lime and orange to name a few the health effects of vaping are described by the NHS website as being “only a fraction” of the risk of cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes do not contain tar or carbon monoxide. Nevertheless, the vapour still contains propylene glycol, glycerin, water, nicotine, flavourings and potentially toxic carbonyls.


Smoking increases the likelihood of developing many different types of cancer with one of three cancer related death linked to smoking. Theese includes Kidney, Stomach, Mouth and Lungs. This is due to cigarettes containing over 70 cariogenic ingredients which damage DNA and lead to mutation and growth which can result in cancer. Lung cancer is strongly related with smoking with nine out of ten lung cancers being attributed to smoking. Smoking also affects the lungs by it causes 84% of deaths from obstructive pulmonary disease. The risk of developing kidney cancer from smoking is great as the more cigarettes smoked the greater the risk as the risk of developing cancer is doubled if smoke twenty cigarettes a day compared to ten. Nevertheless, this risk can be reduced if smoking is stopped. In five years smokers who stop completely half this risk of cancer and after twenty years the risk of head and neck cancer is the same as non-smokers.

Cardiovascular related diseases

Heart related conditions are also strongly related to smoking as the tar and nicotine in cigarettes thickens blood and increases blood pressure increasing the risk of damage to artery walls and blood clotting which can lead to atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a self-perpetuating cycle where clots form in the arteries reducing blood flow to organs and can cause heart attacks and strokes and organ failure. The carbon monoxide in cigarettes makes the heart work faster which also contributes to atherosclerosis. Carbon monoxide also reduces the amount of oxygenated blood in the body by displacing oxygen by binding to haemoglobin to form bind to oxygen. Therefore, there is less oxygen available for organs which can result in organ failure. Similarly, to cancer the risk of CHD other heart related conditions increases with the amount of cigarettes consumed and reduces if smoking stops as after one year of not smoking the risk is reduced by half.

Other health effects on the Body

Other physical conditions associated with smoking include reduced fertility in men and women as the fertility of women who smoke is only 72% of women who don’t smoke. As smoking can affect egg production, fertilization and growth of the baby. Futhermore the sperm count of men who smoke is significantly reduced as smoking can cause less motile sperm, a smaller amount of sperm and sperm that is abnormally shaped. Long term smoking can cause further health effects that interfere with the smokers quality of life these include chronic bronchitis and persistent coughing as well as threatening conditions such as emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mental health effects

As well having physical effect smoking can also result in mental health problems as there has been shown to be a link between smoking and the onset of anxiety and depression. Also, Nicotine withdrawal from people trying to stop smoking can worsen depression. Futhermore smoking is also associated with increased risk of dementia. As four studies by the royal college of physicians with an overall sample size of almost 10,000 found a positive correlation between smoking and dementia.

Stopping Smoking

Many of the treatments for stopping smoking can be obtained through visiting your GP and the NHS stop service. Theese treatments include Nicotine replacement therapy which can be in the form of skin patches, chewing gum, inhalants, tablets and nasal or mouth spray. Theese act in different ways as patches slowly diffuse nicotine into the blood stream whereas chewing gum and nasal and mouth sprays work instantly although the NHS advise using more than one method at the same time for the best results. A GP can also prescribe drugs such as Varenicline and Bupropion to help with Nicotine craving.

Reference list:

  1. Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists. Smoking and mental health. London: RCP, 2013. Royal College of Psychiatrists Council Report CR178 available at:

Article by University of Birmingham intern Natasha Osborn Patel

Australian flu from a UK perspective

Aussie flu

Aussie flu

Flu season this year has been especially bad with Strain H3N2 of Influenza A dubbed the ‘Aussie flu’ has been said to be taking over the UK. Last year it caused havoc in Australia with an estimated 29,000 admissions of confirmed influenza since April 2017. Figures from Public Health England show that so far this season there have been 1,850 influenza-associated hospitalizations and 83% of them have been associated with influenza A. The Chief medical officer for England Dame Sally Davies warns “flu can kill and it is important we all take it seriously”. with GP rate of Influenza like Illnesses remaining very high throughout the country with areas including Lincolnshire, west midlands, and Cornwell affected. But how many cases of influenza can Aussie flu account for? how is Aussie flu different to normal flu? And is it deadlier? Well the symptoms are very similar to other influenza strains:

  •  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

It has been reported that H3N2 killed 300 people in Australia however an investigation by the Australian Government Department of health found that mortality rates are consistent with previous years with the largest number of deaths among the elderly, With death rates highest among the over eighties. A similar pattern can be seen in the UK as out of the two hundred and sixteen acute respiratory outbreaks one hundred and sixty-nine were from care homes. Professor Paul Cosford, Medical Director says “We are currently seeing a mix of flu types, including the A(H3N2) strain that circulated last winter in the UK and then in Australia. The A(H3N2) strain particularly affects older, more vulnerable age groups”. However out of 598 hospitalised confirmed influenza cases 26 were influenza A(H1N1),48 influenza A(H3N2), 158 influenza A(unknown subtype) and 366 influenza B). As with other flu strands the Elderly, young, pregnant women and those with prexisiting conditions are the most vulnerable. With statistically significant excess all-cause mortality by week of death was seen through the EuroMOMO algorithm in the 65+ year olds in England.

to protect yourself from H3N2 and other strains of flu this year the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Studies in the UK from 2017 show that the vaccine is was 40.6% in 18-64 year olds, with no significant effectiveness in ≥65 year olds and 83% of which were associated with influenza A, and 1,254 cases (68%) were in adults 65 years of age or older.VE was 57% for A(H3N2) for 2-17 year olds receiving quadrivalent live attenuated influenza vaccine and 78.6% for influenza B. East Kent Hospitals warns of the “tragic effects” of influenza and encourages people to get the jab. “30% of infections being asymptomatic and a similar proportion with only mild respiratory symptoms. Such individuals, with mild or no symptoms, can still pass on the virus to vulnerable people” so it seems well worth getting the Jab which is free for over 65s, adults over 18 at risk of flu, pregnant women and children ages 6 months to 2 years at risk of flu. The shot is available at GP surgeries, Pharmacies and Midwifery services for pregnant women. Dame Sally Davies states “the best way to protect yourself and those around you is to get the flu jab.” Of course all the normal NHS guidelines to influenza still apply with the NHS relaunching the campaign “Catch it, Kill it, Bin it” NHS choices states “Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and your family from getting ill” and suggests these simple tips for staying well:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  2. Stay home when you are sick.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
  5. Clean your hands.
  6. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  7. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  8. Practice other good health habits.
  9. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
  10. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.$File/2017-season-summary-22112017.pdf

Article by University of Birmingham intern Natasha Osborn Patel