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Should you restart aspirin after a brain bleed stroke?

The results of a medical trial called RESTART may be a game changer when it comes to the treatment of patients after a brain haemorrhage. More than a third of these patients take regular blood thinning medication such as aspirin after having had a heart attack or stroke in the past. And after a brain haemorrhage this leaves doctors with a dilemma. Should the antiplatelet medicines be restarted to prevent future heart attacks or could that increase the chances of another brain haemorrhage? Often doctors are reluctant to take the risk.
Researchers led by a team at the University of Edinburgh have conducted a randomised controlled trial comparing patients who were restarted on their medication after a brain haemorrhage with those that were not. The surprising results have just been published in the journal Lancet, and lead author Professor Rustam Al-Shahi Salman tells Claudia what they found.

About 12 to 15% of the world's gold comes from artisanal mining where people work with whatever tools they have to hand. In some countries, such as Kenya, mercury is used to separate the gold from the rock; workers burn the amalgam, sluice it by hand or even put it between their teeth to squeeze out the gold. But touching, inhaling or ingesting mercury has long been known to cause serious health issues such as neurological problems, cancers, miscarriage or damage to a pregnant women’s foetus. For Health Check, Hannah McNeish visited Migori County in Kenya to look at attempts to prevent poisoning from becoming a major public health problem.

Every day more than 7,000 people are bitten by snakes, and even though anti-venoms are effective, approximately 300 of those die. As well as people dying, many others are left with serious disabilities, which can leave whole families destitute. This week the World Health Organisation, or WHO, launched a new road map to try to tackle the problem once and for all. And the Wellcome Trust has also just announced that they are investing more than 100 million dollars in scientific research looking at anti-venoms. Dr Bernadette Abela-Ridder is team leader for neglected zoonotic diseases in the Department for the Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases of the WHO.

(Photo credit: Senior man taking pills at home – credit: Getty Images)

Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from BBC Health and Science correspondent, James Gallagher.

Producer: Helena Selby

Cancer screening referrals and time of doctor visit

New research from the US, just published in JAMA Network, suggests that doctors behave differently at the start of the day compared to the end. In the US patients rely on doctors alerting them to go for cancer screening, so it is important that your doctor remembers to talk to you about setting up an appointment or takes the time to discuss it.
A team at the University of Pennsylvania took 50,000 patients due for cancer screening. They found that if their doctor’s appointment was in the morning, the patient was twice as likely to be sent for screening than if the appointment was at the end of the day. Director of the Penn Medicine Nudge Unit, Dr Mitesh Patel, explains why this is the case.

The global prevalence of Type II diabetes among adults went from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014 and it is a disease that is growing in middle and lower income countries. India is currently ranked second in the world for type II diabetes and is poised to soon overtake China. People are often unaware they have it, but if left untreated it can lead to serious complications including kidney failure, heart attack, stroke, amputations of lower limbs and diabetic retinopathy, a condition in which the retina gets damaged and ultimately causes blindness. But is it preventable, and eye doctors in the Indian city of Bangalore are investigating the use of artificial intelligence to spot the signs early, as Chhavi Sachdev reports.

When it comes to personality, psychologists have tended to focus more on the negative than the positive, especially in research stemming from criminology. In the last two decades studies have been conducted on the so-called dark triad of personality traits; narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. We all fall somewhere on a continuum with more or less of these traits. But Scott Kaufman, Professor of Psychology at Columbia University in New York, has published new research outlining the opposite; the light triad of some more positive traits. And he has developed a short test where you can work out whether you fall more towards the dark or the light side. His study has recently been published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

(Photo caption: Concerned doctor – credit: Getty Images)

Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from BBC Health and Science correspondent, James Gallagher.

Producer: Helena Selby

Treating peanut allergy: Does immunotherapy work?

Over the last few years an experimental treatment for peanut allergies has been developed. It is called immunotherapy and it involves giving gradually increasing micro doses of peanut to children with the allergy for around two years, until they become accustomed to it. It uses precisely measured quantities and is not something that can be done without medical supervision.
There have been anecdotal reports of it working well for some children and making a real difference to their lives, but now a review of 12 immunotherapy studies, published in the Lancet, has found the results are less than straightforward. Although it does work for some children, others have ended up having more severe allergic reactions and the existing evidence shows that quality of life was no better in those patients who had the treatment. So what is going on? Lead author of the paper, Dr Derek Chu, is a Fellow in Allergy at McMaster University in Canada.

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) is a musical all about depression. It is a production from the UK-based theatre company Silent Uproar and is currently on tour in the UK. While it was in London, Claudia went along to talk to Alex Mitchell, Director of Uproar and Madeleine MacMahon, who plays the lead role of Sally, a character who is experiencing depression.

(Photo caption: Peanut allergy warning – credit: Getty Images)

Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from BBC Health and Science correspondent, James Gallagher.

Producer: Helena Selby

Live longer with a doctor in the family

Could having a doctor in the family help you to live longer? New research from Swedish families says it does - it means you are 10% more likely to live to the age of 80, be less likely to a heart attack, lung cancer or type 2 diabetes. Because so many people apply to study medicine in Sweden there is now a lottery system – so researchers can then study the impact on family health.

A new study of 2,000 older adults given a “smell test” has revealed a link between those with a poor sense of smell and a higher risk of dying. The test examined the ability to recognise smells like chocolate, lemon, onion and petrol. The strongest link was with deaths from degenerative brain conditions like Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Getting the right treatment for cancer is important – but it can mean spending time in buildings with few creature comforts. Maggie’s Centres are set up close to hospitals patients and their families to relax, get advice or gentle exercise. The first in Asia was built in Hong Kong and Health Check meets some of its visitors on a tour around the building and its gardens.

(Photo caption: Examining an elderly patient - credit: Getty Images)

Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond with comments from Dr Ayan Panja

Producer: Paula McGrath

How epidemics have helped to shape the city of Hong Kong

The city of Hong Kong is shaped by epidemics – from the plague of 1894 to the outbreak of SARS in 2003.

Visible signs of the lessons learned are found on the Taipingshan Medical Heritage trail, including Blake Garden, the Tung Wah Hospital and the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences, previously the first pathology lab on the island.

Faith Ho, former Professor of Pathology at the University of Hong Kong and one of the founders of the museum, explains how crowded living conditions in the 19th century helped the plague to spread quickly while we hear some of the personal stories of the staff and patients affected by the SARS epidemic which killed nearly 300 people. At that time medical scientist and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner Chris Chan took his exams wearing a face mask. He describes how in one trial Chinese medicine helps to delay kidney deterioration in his diabetic patients.

And signs of the integration of TCM and westernised medicine are discovered in a beautiful herb garden surrounding the museum. Rose Mak – a retired developmental paediatrician and now chief gardener and Chris Chan describe some of the 250 plant species and their usage including periwinkle and Chinese artmesia.

(Photo caption: Herb garden at the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Sciences)

Health Check was presented by Claudia Hammond and produced by Geraldine Fitzgerald

5 episodes