Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Importance Of Vascular Screenings

Vascular screenings check for fatty deposits that build up in blood vessels. Fatty deposits in blood vessels, generally seen in people over age 40, increase a person's risk of developing vascular diseases such as kidney diseases, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Vascular screenings are important; according to the NHS, one fifth of UK hospital admissions are related to vascular diseases. (1) Screenings will help prevent heart attacks and strokes by alerting people to their risk level and allowing them to make diet and lifestyle changes, start cholesterol reducing medications or join smoking cessation programs that will reduce their risk.

Anyone with a history of high blood pressure or high cholesterol, people who smoke or people who are obese and physically inactive are at risk for developing vascular diseases. Vascular diseases are insidious, developing in a stealthy manner to eventually greatly reduce a person's quality of life and leave them with a debilitating condition that simple lifestyle changes cannot repair. Vascular screenings are highly recommended as a preventative measure, helping people to avoid a lifetime of poor health and disability. Vascular diseases are also fatal diseases. Combined, they are responsible for 36 percent of the deaths in the UK (2), making prevention vital.

The NHS defines obesity as "very overweight with a high degree of body fat." The University of Birmingham calls UK obese rates alarming, with more than 20 percent of UK citizens considered obese. (3) Smoking rates are equally alarming; the 10 million adult cigarette smokers in Great Britain are equal to one-sixth of the UK's total population. (4) If some of the UK's smokers quit smoking after having a vascular screening, not only would deaths from cardiovascular disease be reduced, deaths from respiratory illnesses and certain cancers would also drop. Smoking, obesity and a lack of regular exercise contribute to a wide variety of illnesses and chronic conditions, not just vascular diseases so vascular screenings could contribute to overall better health in the UK if the results encourage people to adopt healthier habits.

Vascular screenings are very important yet relatively simple and straightforward. Blood pressure, height and weight are checked, a family health history is taken and there is a quick blood test. GP's use the results to discuss the steps needed to reduce their patient's risk of developing one or more vascular diseases.

Whilst the vast majority of adults realize being severely overweight, smoking and having unchecked high blood pressure are dangerous to their health, there are many people who do not take the necessary steps to reduce their risk of developing a vascular disease. A vascular screening can be a wake-up call, providing personalised advice to individuals who ignore general health recommendations.


1. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2008/04April/Pages/Vascularcheck.aspx
2. http://www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice/clinical-zones/long-term-conditions/vascular-screening-programme-moves-focus-to-early-prevention/1137683.article
3. http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/mds/centres/obesity/obesity-uk/index.aspx
4. http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_93.pdf

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why PMI?

Not everyone has private medical insurance (PMI). However, it's something that while many people haven't given much thought to it, they'd in fact they'd stand to gain a lot from the benefits it provides.

And a recent Express article makes this point very well indeed - taking the topical subject of Movember, they quote figures from one PMI provider who said that in 2012, fourteen per cent of all its private medical claims involved prostate and testicular cancer.

Part of the challenge for the PMI industry is, of course, that when you're 100% healthy you may be unlikely to think about medical cover. But as one MD of a health insurance provider points out in the article, when you're in 'fine fettle' is the best time to think about a policy rather than wait until you have a problem with your health.

The price of health cover of course depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Your age - and of course the longer you leave it, the higher the cost of premiums will be
  • What cover you take out. Policies are modular so you don't need to pay for anything you don't require. This can mean that basic cover levels may surprise you with how inexpensive they can be.
  • Which provider you use. Worth shopping around and getting the policy and provider that you feel is the best for you.

Monday, November 4, 2013

PMI providers and claims stats

I was recently reading an article on the subject of whether private medical insurance providers should publish their stats for declined claims.

It's an interesting question - and in this age of big data and openness, on the face of it this seems like a decent enough idea.

According to the article, there's only one provider of PMI who currently makes these figures available - although it points out that declined stats for other areas of insurance such as protection, it's commonplace to do so.

It's an interesting area - and publishing more information on declinatures could conceivably help drive sales - especially when you look at some of the various reasons that claims don't make it. In 2012, UP reported that for the year prior, nearly a half (46%) of instances where a claim was turned down, this was due to the claim paperwork not being completed.

Why could this be a sales driver? Well one of the reasons we take out PMI is the peace of mind factor. And it's reassuring to know that claims decline instances are generally down to very simple reasons such as incomplete paperwork, as well as things like making claims for things that weren't included on the policy.

However, it's this peace of mind thing that's important - and as one broker points out - declined claims in PMI are actually pretty rare, since if the policy has been sold to the customer correctly they'll know what they are covered for.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

Heart health is important to living a quality life. However, heart disease is affecting a growing number of the population. This disease, although linked to genetics, can be prevented or reversed in its early stages. Obtaining a heart disease risk assessment could be instrumental in the prevention of arterial plaque build-up.

What are some of the contributing factors of heart disease? Smoking, certain saturated fats, high cholesterol foods, high blood pressure, and elevated sugar levels due to diabetes are some of the main contributing factors to the development of heart disease. When plaque begins to build up inside the walls of the arteries from excessive fat intake, heart damage can also occur. Over time, the effects of plaque in the arteries can be lethal. Blockages can prevent adequate flow of blood through the heart, resulting in heart attack or stroke.

It is important to remain optimistic about treatment. Heart disease has been found to be reversible in its early stages. Adopting healthier eating habits, an active lifestyle, and habits by which to manage stress are three main methods for reversing your heart disease.

So we have prepared a utility list of items that can reduce and even reverse the risk of heart related illnesses so without further ado:

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

This type of fat is founding fish and has been proven to reduce the risk of sudden death without evidence of pre-existing cardiovascular issues.  Doctors recommend that oily fish should be eaten twice a week to help reduce the risk of heart issues.

Vitamin D

It has been proposed that doubling your intake of vitamin D can significantly reduce risk of mortality not only for cardio issues but for all medical causes.  However, the Journal of American Geriatric Society found in 2010 that is more pronounced when dealing with heart issues.


Magnesium has a major role in helping to protect the heart from disease.  In 2010, the Journal of Biomedical Sciences published people who excrete higher levels of magnesium were less likely to have cardiovascular problems, which clearly indicates its protective role.

Natural Compounds Which May Unclog Your Arteries


Pomegranate has been found to have reversed artery thickness by up to 29% in one year in some cases.  Additionally, this fruit reduces blood pressure, reduces infection and reduces inflammation.


This amino acid not not only halts the progression of athersclerosis but can also have a reversal effect on pathologies associated with the process - essentially declogging arteries.


Garlic is a wonderful herb with many healthy properties including reducing risk factors which are associated with arteriosclerosis, which is a thickening and hardening of the arteries, which in turn reduces the risk of a heart attack or a stroke.  There are 150 diseases which garlic is known to have potential in treating and preventing health issues.

If you are ever in any doubt about your heart health contact your GP who will arrange a heart disease risk assessment for you to find out what the problem is.  There are lots of articles like this online for help and advice so get as much information as you possibly can, it will take a load of your mind.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Health in an ageing society

When we hit milestone birthdays, for many of us it's often a reminder of how, when we were younger, we just kind of thought we'd be young forever. Over time though, the inevitability of getting older becomes more and more apparent - it could be the appearance of grey hairs, wrinkles where once there was smoothness. Getting older is just part of life, and healthy living is a priority - no matter how many years we've been around for.

As a society, though, we're ageing. A lot of this is down to very positive things - better understanding of nutrition, greater wealth, and advances in medical and drug technology have meant that life expectancy is on the increase. For governments this will be a challenge as time progresses - and changes are already in place to help make sure people have more in older age. One example of this is the alteration to the retirement age - so while retirement was hitherto compulsory, there's now no fixed retirement age, although in certain jobs there may be one for health and safety reasons.

And as time passes there are bound to be big changes in the way that health in the UK is managed - specifically as regards care for the elderly. As this UK parliament page on the ageing population indicates, the number of centenarians - of projections prove accurate - is going to increase fast enough to make them quickest growing age group in the country. And to think that just a few short decades ago reaching triple figures was an unusual enough birthday that you'd get a personal message from the monarch.

The issue of ageing made the headlines again this week click here for a BBC news story on the topic, which quotes a survey result showing over three quarters of respondents believe that government 'isn't ready to cope with changing demographics'.

For more on health and wellbeing in this topic area, check out the Age UK charity's site.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dental phobia - it's not unusual

Pardon the pun - but does the thought of the dentist chair set your teeth on edge? If it does, you're definitely not alone. In fact the most recent UK adult dental health survey shows that nearly half of all people over the age of 18 in the UK have a moderate to strong fear of dental treatment. Which in many ways isn't surprising. Think especially of older adults (yes, that'll probably be me, then!) who were brought up in the old days when patient centred treatment hadn't yet been invented Things are much more seren now, I can promise you that. And much less daunting. Yes, in the old days many of the tools and machines used in the dental surgery were whizzy, buzzy, and not a little scary. And all this before the days of dental care being associated with the glamorous white-toothed Kanye Wests of this era and more to do with disconcerting pictures shown in the school classroom showing the unspeakable horror of what not caring for your teeth could end up doing to your mouth.

 One such story still gives me the jitters. Possible urban myth - but still definitely a dental (ahem) parable. Yep, it pains me to even type this. The boy who brushed his teeth too much, so much he wore the enamel off them. I mean, yikes. Just ... yikes. Anyway the survey also indicated that women with dental phobia were six times more likely to be disturbed by pictures of dental treatment scenes than women who didn't have dental phobia. Which makes sense, really. Not being dental phobic myself, I'd have to admit that dental treatment pictures wouldn't delight my inner aesthete either. Or make me smile.

 How do you manage a dental phobia though? Luckily these days there are various ways - and there are many dentists with a 'gentle dentistry' focus - professionals who have a lot of experience and can help patients through treatment.

Then there's also the cost of treatment which can be managed by getting dental health insurance - UK provider AXA PPP healthcare also have a lot of dental health info on their site, and NHS Choices also has info on dental phobia. Luckily, despite the prevalance of discomfort at the thought of dental work, there's a lot of information and support available these days.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Healthcare Pathway Member Journey

This clip shows the Healthcare Pathway, which is an innovative approach that combines healthcare with healthy living. See for yourself here: