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Alcohol prescriptions soar, leg wraps cut post-stroke complications and the ‘Noma’ diet for heart health

A round-up of the health news headlines on Friday 31 May.

Much of the press reports today on new Government research showing prescriptions for alcoholism have soared over the past decade – by almost 75%. The Independent says nearly 180,000 such prescriptions were issued last year, a rise of 6% compared with the previous year.

The data also show hospital admission for alcohol problems rose 41% over the past 10 years. The paper says that although average alcohol consumption has fallen since a peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it is still more than twice as high as in the 1960s.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘It’s encouraging to see that more people are getting help for problems with alcohol. But these figures prove that alcohol is causing harm to the health of hundreds of thousands of people and we must continue to act. That is why we are already improving prevention by funding alcohol risk assessments at GPs and encouraging increased access to alcohol liaison nurses in hospitals.’

The BBC meanwhile reports on a study in The Lancet that shows compression socks, or ‘cheap, inflatable leg wraps’, can help prevent DVT in patients who have suffered stroke. In the study, 9% of patients using compression socks developed DVT compared with 12% of patients who received usual care.

Researcher Professor Martin Dennis, from University of Edinburgh, said: ‘We estimate that this treatment could potentially help about 60,000 stroke patients each year in the UK.’

And finally… move over Mediterranean, it’s time for the ‘Noma’ diet to save our hearts from stodgy western foods. The Telegraph reports on new research showing that a Scandinavian diet, already dubbed the ‘Noma’ diet after the top restaurant, can lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Finnish researchers found that obese patients who switched from their regular diet to a traditional Nordic diet had improvements in their lipid profiles and inflammatory markers compared with control patients who continued to eat their normal diet. The Nordic diet included berries such as blackcurrants and bilberries, three fish meals per week, local vegetables, whole grains and only poultry or game rather than other meats.

According to the paper, nutrition experts here have welcomed the report because such foods grow more readily in colder northern latitudes than the main foods making up the Mediterranean diet.

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