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Inside Health

Series that demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice.

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Long Covid, Vaccine queries

Most people recover rapidly after catching coronavirus. But I chat to three people who were infected almost a year ago and are still feeling the impact, both on their bodies and their minds. Doctors are having to rapidly grapple with how to treat patients with long Covid. We speak to one of them, Dr Manoj Sivan, the Research Lead for the Long Covid Service in Leeds, who warns that long Covid could be a “second pandemic”. We also have GP Dr Navjoyt Ladher answering your questions on the Covid vaccines.PRESENTER: James GallagherPRODUCER: Beth Eastwood

27mins

16 Feb 2021

Rank #1

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High Blood Pressure

Dr Mark Porter discusses High Blood Pressure , a silent threat that isn’t well managed, with only a third of those affected being diagnosed and treated as advised in the latest guidelines. Dr Margaret McCartney and Professor of Medicine, Bryan Williams help unpick areas of confusion including lifestyle and treatment with the latest thinking in the UK, on who should be offered what and when.

28mins

8 Jan 2019

Rank #2

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Stress and pregnancy, CBT for insomnia, Cluster headache, Smoking and mental health

Dr Mark Porter finds out why insomnia can often go untreated by the NHS despite there being a treatment that not only works but also doesn't involve drugs. There are nearly 11 million prescriptions for sleeping tablets in the UK every year but their effect isn't long lasting and people can find it hard to come off the tablets. Cognitive behavioural therapy has consistently been shown to be very effective at improving sleep in the long term but few people have access to it. Mark is joined by Colin Espie, professor of Sleep Medicine at the University of Oxford, and by professor Kevin Morgan, director of the Clinical Sleep Research Unit at Loughborough University, to discuss why insomnia is so neglected, and to talk about the success of methods to deliver CBT online using mobile and web technology.Also in the programme, Mark talks to Peter Goadsby, professor of neurology at King's College Hospital London, to find out what cluster headaches are, why they're so painful and why they can occur when the clocks change. He also meets Ann McNeil, professor of tobacco addiction at the Institute of Psychiatry, to bust the myth that smoking helps bust stress.

27mins

25 Mar 2014

Rank #3

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Ebola, Painkillers, Immunity (CVID), Integrated Health, Thyroid and Pregnancy

Ebola - how do they predict how it's going to spread, and why estimates have risen so rapidly.In the UK there are 22 million prescriptions a year for morphine type painkillers, costing over 300 million pounds - but do they actually work in non-cancer pain?And a simple blood test that can tell if your recurrent chest infections might be due to an immune problem.Plus thyroid problems and pregnancy.

27mins

7 Oct 2014

Rank #4

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Gender X; Diabetes diagnosis; Trigeminal Neuralgia; Oesophageal cancer

As Germany becomes the first country in Europe to pass a law allowing newborn babies to be registered as being of indeterminate sex - neither male nor female - should the UK follow suit?The incapacitating facial pain that feels like an electric shock - a world expert explains Trigeminal Neuralgia.And recurrent indigestion - should more be done to investigate the millions of people troubled with heartburn?Plus a new test for diagnosing diabetes that's causing some confusion.

27mins

5 Nov 2013

Rank #5

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Cancer of the cervix & HPV; Oral cancer & HPV; Eating late; Feedback on Sugar, Thrush, Cataracts; Scarfree operations

A committee advising the Food and Drug Administration in the US has voted to change the way it tests women for cervical cancer by solely using a test that detects Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) rather than also using a standard smear test which looks for abnormal cell changes. The test is likely to become more widely used in the NHS than it is now. What advantages does it offer over smear tests and what difference will it make for women? Dr Mark Porter talks to Jack Cuzick, director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and GP Dr Margaret McCartney about the pros and cons.The HPV virus is responsible for a big increase in the number of oral cancers. Some researchers have even gone so far as to call it an epidemic. Mark talks to head and neck cancer surgeon Andrew Schache from the University of Liverpool to find out more about the reason for the rise in numbers.Also in the programme. You are when you eat. According to some diets, not eating in the evening can help you lose weight. But does the timing of when you eat really make a difference? Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford, explains why the time you eat doesn't make a difference to whether you put on weight.Scar free surgery. Mark talks to Mikael Sodergren from Imperial College London, about the latest surgical innovation - natural orifice surgery. Surgery via natural orifices like the stomach and vagina can dramatically improve people's recovery after an operation reducing their pain and time in hospital. Currently only used in women, in the future it could be available for everyone with a robotic surgical device going in through the mouth and then being used to perform operations like an appendectomy via the stomach.

27mins

18 Mar 2014

Rank #6

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Glucosamine for osteoarthritis; Alcohol addiction; Gut instinct

As NICE issues its latest guidelines for treating osteoarthritis, Inside Health looks at the use of paracetamol to relieve pain and is glucosamine a recommended supplement? Also in the programme, Dr Mark Porter investigates how the latest drug treatments for problem drinking work. And how much do doctors use their gut instinct when it comes to diagnosing patients?

27mins

11 Feb 2014

Rank #7

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Braintraining and dementia; Cluster headaches; Cancer rehab; #hellomynameis

Every three minutes somebody in the UK develops dementia, so when it's claimed that tailored computer brain training can reduce cases of dementia and cognitive decline by a third over a decade, people sit up and take notice. The research claiming the 33% reduction for the group of people whose "processing function" was targeted for brain training, hasn't yet been published - so isn't peer-reviewed - but the preliminary data by a US team was presented to the Alzheimer's Association International Conference in Toronto this week. Dr Doug Brown, Director of R&D at the UK's Alzheimer's Society speaks from the Canadian conference to Dr Mark Porter and says there's widespread excitement about the potential of brain training to protect against dementia. Dr Margaret McCartney urges caution, warning it's too early to make claims before the full data is available.James is a young man with a high pressure sales job, but every year in the summer months he is crippled by agonising headaches. He's one of the 100,000 people in the UK who suffers from cluster headaches, so called because they come in disabling bouts, lasting for 4-6 weeks at a time. Inside Health visits a new one-stop multidisciplinary rapid-access headache clinic at St Thomas's Hospital in London, where James is getting treatment. Dr Giorgio Lambru, who heads the new service, tells Mark why it's so vital that patients with cluster headaches have to be seen, diagnosed and treated quickly.Years after cardiac rehabilitation became a standard part of therapy for heart attacks, the same post-treatment care still isn't routinely available for people who've had cancer, despite decade-old guidance from NICE suggesting that it should be. The UK's first clinical trial to measure holistic cancer care is hoping to provide the evidence that will demonstrate the type of support and rehabilitation that really works. Professor of Nursing Annie Young from Warwick Medical School and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust tells Mark that after treatment, patients can feel abandoned and vulnerable.#hellomynameis is a hugely successful social media campaign which highlights the importance of healthcare staff introducing themselves to patients. It was launched by Dr Kate Granger after her experience of being in hospital. Kate died at the weekend from cancer, aged just 34. Dr Margaret McCartney describes the enormous impact of Kate's campaign throughout the NHS.

28mins

26 Jul 2016

Rank #8

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Statins, Cholesterol-lowering spreads, Olive oil, Diet and inflammatory bowel disease, Singers' nodules

Some media coverage has suggested that there is a link between eating junk food and the rise of conditions like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis which involve inflammation of the digestive system. Mark Porter questions the evidence. As school's out for summer Mark finds out why teachers' voices need a rest. He also examines whether cholesterol lowering spreads and drinks do what they suggest. Also in the programme: is frying with olive oil harmful or the healthy choice?

28mins

22 Jul 2014

Rank #9

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Dementia, Sleep, Thyroxine

Dr Mark Porter explores Dementia Challenge - the Department of Health's much publicised campaign to improve dementia care, including a new scheme to test everyone over 75 who's admitted to hospital for signs of the condition. Will this lead to overdiagnosis or will it get people treated early? And prescribing sleeping tablets for those unable to rest on a noisy hospital ward may seem like a quick fix but there is strong evidence that they are linked to side effects including an increase in falls. Mark Porter investigates and finds some simple solutions to getting a good night's kip in hospital. Plus a leading expert on the thyroid gland answers a listener's concerns about the use of the hormone thyroxine.

27mins

8 Jan 2013

Rank #10

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Health checks, Fertility, Adjustment

NHS health checks or 'mid-life MOTs' have hit the headlines as new research claims they are a success. The aim is prevention - of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes - but their introduction has been controversial amid criticism they are not evidence based or cost effective. Resident sceptic Dr Margaret McCartney debates the issues with National Clinical Advisor Dr Matt Kearney.And putting the family back into planning. As more couples leave it later before starting a family there is growing concern from fertility experts that many people don't know enough about when female fertility starts to decline. Professor Adam Balen and Professor Joyce Harper discuss the issues. And how accurate is the perception, often reported in the media, that fertility 'drops off a cliff' in the mid to late thirties? Professor Richard Anderson reviews the so called 'broken stick' study, a mathematical model which first defined the sharp drop off of female fertility.And another instalment of Inside Language where Dr Margaret McCartney and Professor Carl Heneghan examine the terms used in evidence based medicine and why they matter. This week, adjustment and how researchers allow for factors that might skew their findings.

28mins

29 Mar 2016

Rank #11

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NHS bill, tinnitus, pedestrians, teenage info, Vitamin D, cough mix

Inside Health covers the ongoing debate about proposed reforms to the NHS in England. This week Colleges representing nurses, midwives and physios have joined sceptical GPs and hospital specialists by announcing their opposition to the reforms. And, just out, a report by a cross party select committee on health questions whether current financial pressures make it too risky to implement the most radical changes in the Service's history.Health Minister Lord Howe talks to Dr Mark Porter in response to the criticisms from Professor Martin McKee and Dr Clare Gerada in last week's programme..And an Inside Health listener emailed to ask why Tinnitus confuses patients as well as doctors. Dr Max Pemberton investigates.Plus why are teenagers - the most internet savvy generation of all - finding it difficult to access good health information in the internet? Psychologist Ellen Henderson at the University of Bath is one of the authors behind a new study looking at websites aimed at young people and offering advice on treating pain like headaches and period cramps.Vitamin D supplementation is currently recommended for all groups at particular risk of deficiency - such as pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children - but three quarters of parents, and more than half of doctors, midwives and health visitors are not up to speed with the latest guidance, so don't follow it. As Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies, writes to healthcare professionals highlighting the importance of vitamin D supplements Inside Health talks to Nick Bishop Professor of Paediatric bone disease at The University of Sheffield.Finally, our resident sceptic Dr Margaret McCartney explains why she doesn't rate over the counter cough mixtures.Producer: Erika Wright.

27mins

24 Jan 2012

Rank #12

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Heart and Exercise, Smoking and Alcohol, Weight Management, Hepatitis C

After recent headlines that running too much can be bad for your heart, Mark Porter talks to the Medical Director for the London Marathon to get an insider's perspective. A novel psychological approach to weight loss that asks why people are eating too much rather than just giving dietary advice. Plus new treatments for Hepatitis C and statistics showing a reduction in binge drinking in young adults.

27mins

17 Feb 2015

Rank #13

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Breast cancer, Alcoholism, CRPS, Generics

Breast Cancer and Bisphosphonates; an old drug for treating weak bones can reduce the risk of breast cancer spreading, but many post menopausal women are missing out. Why? Alcoholism and Baclofen; another old drug with a new use, this time a muscle relaxant to help people with an alcohol problem and news of three new trials recently presented in Germany. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a rare condition that often occurs after an injury or surgery and results in life changing pain. And why are some generic, non-branded medicines so expensive?

27mins

27 Sep 2016

Rank #14

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Flu vaccine and narcolepsy, Stoptober, Herbal medicines, Calcium supplements

New research has found an association between Pandemrix, a swine flu vaccine, and a rare sleep disorder in children. Fears about a pandemic of H1N1 flu, so called "swine flu", over the winter of 2009/2010 led to millions of vulnerable people across the UK, including every child under five, being offered a new vaccine. There has since been a dramatic rise in the number of children diagnosed with narcolepsy. Paul Gringras, Professor of Children's sleep medicine and neurodisability at the Evelina Children's Hospital in London, is one of the researchers investigating this link. October 1st marks the start of a mass stop smoking campaign called Stoptober. Last year, 160,000 people gave up for the month, saving themselves £25 million from not buying cigarettes. Inside Health spoke to two of them, Adrian Osborne and Donna Horton. The Traditional Herbal Medicines Registration Scheme was brought in by the Medicines Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in 2005. But there are concerns that the threshold for this type of licensing is set too low, and is misleading consumers. To debate the issue, Mark Porter is joined by resident sceptic Margaret McCartney and Dr Linda Anderson from the licensing division at the MHRA. It is thought that around five million people in the UK, most of them women, take some form of high dose calcium supplement to keep their bones healthy. But there have been a number of reports linking them to heart attacks and stroke. So what is the latest thinking on their use? Juliet Compston is Emeritus Professor of Bone Medicine at the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine.

28mins

1 Oct 2013

Rank #15

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Sickness Absence, Ankle Arthritis, Hot Flushes, Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Inside Health examines advice for when parents should and shouldn't send their sick children to school. Is this another example of the nanny state, or a useful guide?Hip replacements and knee replacements are well known treatments but now a new trial is looking into the effectiveness of ankle surgery for arthritis.Margaret McCartney reveals the origin of the word hypochondria.Plus, how effective is HRT for the commonest symptom of the menopause, hot flushes?And Inside Health answers listeners' questions on Guillain-Barré syndrome, what are the causes and treatments.

28mins

14 Oct 2014

Rank #16

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Over-diagnosis: High Blood Pressure

Dr Mark Porter asks whether doctors can try too hard in the early detection of disease and investigates the overdiagnosis of hypertension. This week he discovers that as many as 3 million people who have been told they have high blood pressure may not actually have it - could you be one of them?

27mins

21 Aug 2012

Rank #17

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Obesity and smoking, Blood pressure, ADHD

Is it useful as a public health message to compare obesity and smoking? Controversy in Rome behind a new trial that suggested Blood Pressure targets should get lower. And after a rise of medicating for ADHD over 25 years, the numbers of prescriptions for children has now plateaued. Is this a good news story or is there something more complicated behind the change in trend?

28mins

13 Sep 2016

Rank #18

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Deprescribing long-term opioids, Diagnosing concussion

Research suggests opioids don't work in long-term chronic pain but dispensing in the UK has risen four-fold since the nineties, and we consume more than any other country in Europe. There is a dearth of good evidence for how best to help people come off these drugs. Mark Porter meets the team trying to change that. And an objective pitch-side test that takes the guesswork out of diagnosing concussion.

27mins

5 Mar 2019

Rank #19

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Mutant Flu, Weight-Loss Surgery, Young Men and Body Image, CVID, Dental Check-ups, Doctors' Example, Dry January Findings

Mark investigates reports that the UK faces an epidemic of "mutant flu".Just a month after NICE calls for more weight loss operations to be done, there are proposals to slash the amount hospitals are paid to do the procedures - a move that could see many hospitals stop offering the operation.Six packs and big guns - there is growing concern about steroid abuse by young men on a quest for the perfect body.And Dry January - Mark looks at the science behind going on the wagon for a month.

27mins

20 Jan 2015

Rank #20