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Health Information

For advice on healthy living, please visit the UK Public Health website for more information.

In order to comply with our pharmacy contract, Nutricia Homeward is required to provide information on healthy lifestyles within our Pharmacy service.

The health and lifestyle information on this website is designed for the general population. It is not intended to replace a direct face-to-face consultation with a health professional. If you have a specific medical condition, or have recently been unwell, then you should check with your medical professional about whether this advice is appropriate for you.

Blood Pressure

What is "Blood Pressure"?

Blood pressure refers to the pressure at which your blood is pumped around the body from the heart. It is important to know your blood pressure because too high or too low a blood pressure is damaging to your health.

Who is at risk of high blood pressure?

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is dangerous mainly because it causes the heart to pump too hard. When this happens for a long period of time, it can do severe damage to the heart. It also leads to a condition called atherosclerosis which is a hardening of the arteries. This increases the risk of heart disease or stroke. Risk factors for high blood pressure include:

  • Age
  • Those with diabetes
  • Those of African - Caribbean origin
  • Those who are overweight or obese
  • Those with a family history of high blood pressure
  • Certain lifestyle factors i.e. those who eat a lot of salt, not enough fruit and vegetables, don't take enough exercise or drink a lot of alcohol

What are the key signs?

High blood pressure is called a silent killer as there are no signs to look out for. You should make sure to have your blood pressure measured regularly if you are at risk.

Click Here for more information and signposting.

The health and lifestyle information on this website is designed for the general population. It is not intended to replace a direct face-to-face consultation with a health professional. If you have a specific medical condition, or have recently been unwell, then you should check with your medical professional about whether this advice is appropriate for you.

Diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly. Glucose comes from the digestion of starchy carbohydrate foods such as bread, rice, potatoes, chapattis, yams and plantain, from sugar and other sweet foods.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the body which helps remove glucose from the blood. In those with diabetes this process is impaired.

There are two main types of diabetes. These are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes - This is where the body does not produce insulin and is usually diagnosed before the age of 40. Type 1 diabetes is the least common of the two main types of diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes - This is where the body is unable to make efficient use of the insulin it produces. This is more commonly diagnosed over the age of 40

What are the key symptoms of diabetes?

These include thirst, extreme tiredness, poor bladder control, sudden weight loss, blurred vision, re-current thrush and slow wound healing. If you regularly have three or more of these symptoms you could be one of the one million people who have diabetes and don't realise it. Ask your doctor to test your blood glucose if you have three or more of these symptoms on a regular basis.

What are the risks of persistently high blood glucose?

If left undiagnosed or untreated high blood glucose can lead to damage of various organs of the body, particularly the heart, kidneys and eyes. It can also lead to poor circulation in the hands and feet as well as nerve damage.

Who is most at risk?

Risk factors include age, being overweight or obese (large waist circumference), Asian or African origin, family history and previous gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy).

How to reduce blood glucose and manage diabetes?

While diabetes cannot be cured it can be treated successfully. Type 1 diabetes is treated with insulin injections plus lifestyle changes as listed below. Type 2 diabetes is treated with lifestyle changes as listed below. Tablets and/or insulin may or may not be required to help achieve normal blood glucose levels.

Lifestyle changes for those living with diabetes:

  • A healthier diet
  • Increased and regular physical activity
  • A healthier weight
  • Giving up smoking
  • The main aim of treatment of both types of diabetes is to achieve blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels as near to normal as possible. This, together with a healthy lifestyle, will help to improve wellbeing and protect against long-term damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and major arteries.

    Click Here for more information and signposting.

    The health and lifestyle information on this website is designed for the general population. It is not intended to replace a direct face-to-face consultation with a health professional. If you have a specific medical condition, or have recently been unwell, then you should check with your medical professional about whether this advice is appropriate for you.

    Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

    What is CHD?

    In CHD, the arteries that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients become furry and narrowed which is referred to as atherosclerosis. This restricts the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart, particularly during exertion when there are more demands on the heart muscle.

    What are the key symptoms of CHD?

    The main symptom is a feeling of heaviness, tightness or pain in the middle of your chest that may extend to, or just affect, your arms (especially the left), neck, jaw, face, back or abdomen. This is referred to as angina, and is caused by insufficient oxygen reaching the heart muscle because of reduced blood flow.

    What about a heart attack?

    Unfortunately, for many people the first indication that something is wrong is a heart attack. This happens when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is completely interrupted or stops, usually when a blood clot forms in a diseased coronary artery that’s already become narrowed by atherosclerosis.

    Who is most at risk?

    Scientists have yet to unravel all of the causes of heart disease. However, some people are particularly predisposed towards developing atherosclerosis, due to inherited genetic factors. They may have a family history of people dying at a young age from CHD. However, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking all increase the risk of CHD and all of these can be addressed.

    How can it be prevented?

    Becoming more active, eating a healthy diet and stopping smoking can make a tremendous difference to the health of your heart.

    Lifestyle tips for a healthier heart:

    • A healthy diet contains plenty of fruit and vegetables (see www.5aday.nhs.uk) and starchy foods such as wholegrain bread, pasta and rice; and is low in fat (especially the saturated hard fats from butter and meat), salt and sugar.
    • Watch your salt intake. Try to avoid adding salt in cooking or at the table.
    • Take regular moderate exercise for half an hour each day about five times a week.
    • Enjoy alcohol sensibly. Avoid excessive amounts having no more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day (women) or 3-4 units per day (men).
    • Aim for a healthy body weight.
    • If you smoke work on giving up and at least cut down initially.

    How can it be treated?

    There are many different drugs prescribed to treat heart conditions. There are also various procedures for treating heart conditions - including heart bypass, heart transplant, angioplasty (a procedure to widen the arteries), pacemakers and much more.

    Click Here for more information and signposting.

    The health and lifestyle information on this website is designed for the general population. It is not intended to replace a direct face-to-face consultation with a health professional. If you have a specific medical condition, or have recently been unwell, then you should check with your medical professional about whether this advice is appropriate for you.

    Smoking

    Benefits of going smoke free

    Going smoke free isn't easy, but when you see the drastic improvements to your life and health, you'll want to set your action plan going as quickly as you can.

    Will my health benefit?

    • You will reduce your risk of developing illness, disability or death caused by cancer, heart or lung disease
    • You will reduce your risk of gangrene or amputation caused by circulatory problems
    • You will protect the health of those around you by not exposing them to second-hand smoke
    • You will reduce the chances of your children suffering from asthma or glue ear
    • You will improve your fertility levels and your chance of a healthy pregnancy and baby
    • You will improve your breathing and general fitness

    How to go smoke free

    When you go smoke free, you are up to four times more likely to succeed if you use NHS support and stop smoking medicines such as patches or gum to manage your cravings. NHS support is free and most nicotine replacement products are also available on prescription.

    Free group and individual support services with trained advisers are available for you to join. A trained adviser will help you to put your plan to stop smoking into action. If you are not sure if group or individual support sessions would suit you call the NHS Smoking Helpline and speak to one of the trained advisers to find out more about the options. Call the NHS Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 0169. The NHS also offers support packs with plenty of tools to help you give up such as inspirational DVDs.

    Nicotine Replacement Therapy (or NRT)

    Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) works differently to cigarettes. It does not contain toxic chemicals like tar or carbon monoxide, and does not cause cancer. NRT is suitable for most people, however you should check with your doctor if you are pregnant, have a heart or circulatory condition or if you take regular medication.

    There are lots of different products to choose from, for a full list of NRT products please visit http://gosmokefree.nhs.uk/

    Click Here for more information and signposting.

    The health and lifestyle information on this website is designed for the general population. It is not intended to replace a direct face-to-face consultation with a health professional. If you have a specific medical condition, or have recently been unwell, then you should check with your medical professional about whether this advice is appropriate for you.