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Three Key Medical News Stories: 5th September 2019

Current healthcare issues

Welcome to this week’s medical news round up of the! In our latest edition, we bring you current healthcare issues that have been under the microscope over the past week, just in time for your med school applications.

The healthcare topics joining us this week are: organ transplant, cancer and, heart checks.

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Organ Transplant

Patients missing life-saving organ transplant opportunities

The NHS Blood and Transplant organisation reveals that 2,500 more organs could be available if families spoke more openly about donation.

Six thousand people in the UK are currently waiting for a transplant, but 400 will sadly pass away before a transplant operation can take place.

Organ donation has hit the headlines over the past few years due to changes in the law. Now, in England, Wales and Scotland there is an opt-out system to increase donor numbers. Last year the number of organ donors hit record numbers of 1,600.

However, about a third of bereaved families decided against organ donation, mainly because they were unclear of their loved ones wishes.

Open discussion about organ donation allows families to be clear about the wishes of their loved ones and it may save hundreds of lives.

What can we learn from this?

The opt-out system is widely welcomes and aims to make organ donation clearer and more accessible.

Despite this, families still have the final say on whether donation goes ahead, even if the patient has expressed their wishes to donate.

835 families asked about organ donation did not consent to it because they had not discussed the issue with their loved one, highlighting the importance of these difficult but potentially life-saving discussions.

Question to think about: How would you encourage the public to talk to their families about organ donation?

Read NHS Hot Topics – Organ Donation

Cancer

Cancer is now the largest cause of death among middle-aged people in wealthy countries

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally for middle-aged people. However, recent research shows that those in wealthier nations are 2.5 times more likely to die of cancer, making this a prevalent current healthcare issue.

In contrast, those in poorer nations are three times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease.

The figures come from a global study, following 160,000 people across 21 countries. Cardiovascular disease caused over 40% of deaths in low-income countries, compared to less than a quarter in high-income countries.

Researchers explain the reason for this may be due to better medication and healthcare for patients in wealthier countries.

What can we learn from this?

Advances in medicine mean many more people are surviving heart attacks and strokes, especially in countries with well-resources healthcare systems. However, survival is not the end of the story of this current healthcare issue. There are now increasing numbers of people living with the consequences of cardiovascular disease, including disability and lower qualities of life.

Question to think about: How do you think cardiovascular disease can affect patients and their families?

Read Empathy Questions

Heart checks

More pharmacies to offer free, on the sport heart check-ups 

Recent medical news highlights the government’s plan to improve healthcare in the community, aiming to ease the pressure on hospitals and GP surgeries. This is a fantastic development for a current healthcare issue.

The new programme, funded as part of a £13bn contract for community pharmacies, aims to prevent up to £150,000 heart attacks and strokes within a decade.

Hundreds of pharmacies will be offering checks to identify people with high blood pressure or an irregular heart rhythm. This is particularly important, as many people living with high blood pressure are not aware that they have the condition.

What can we learn from this?

This new programme is building into preventative medicine, a field in which the government and NHS are investing heavily. This is a current healthcare issue that is particularly important.

Heart attacks and strokes can be fatal or leave patients with life-changing disabilities. Early detection and management of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, raised cholesterol and irregular heart rhythms, reduces the risk and can save lives.

Question to think about: Does preventative medicine play a role within the NHS? Explain your answer with examples.

Read Challenges facing the NHS 

Words: Katie Burrell

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