Inside Health

BBC Radio 4


Dr Mark Porter demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice, with the help of regular contributor GP Margaret McCartney


Aspirin and heart attacks, BPPV vertigo, Patronising language, Carpal tunnel sydrome, Osteoporosis treatment

September 8th, 2015

Episode 291 of 329 episodes

Dr Mark Porter presents a programme devoted to questions from the listeners. Dr Mike Knapton from the British Heart Foundation answers a question about whether aspirin can protect against a second heart attack. A number of people asked about the treatment of vertigo. Vertigo is a symptom of a variety of conditions ranging from migraine and Meniere's, to strokes and tumours, but by far the most common is a condition called BPPV - benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It is caused by debris floating around in the fluid in the balance sensors of the inner ear and typically affects people over 40. And there is a relatively simple way to treat it called the Epley movement, which is much underused. Dr Louisa Murdin, consultant in vestibular and balance disorders at Guy's and St Thomas's hospitals in London, explained how she uses the technique. Dr Margaret McCartney and Mark discuss why doctors sometimes use patronising language when talking to patients. Carpal tunnel syndrome - which normally eventually affects both hands - is caused by pressure on the median nerve as it passes under the flexor retinaculum ligament at the wrist - close to where the clasp or buckle on your watch would sit. The classic story is pins and needles affecting the thumb side of the hand and sparing the little finger, and often worse during the early hours of the morning. Dr Jeremy Bland, consultant in clinical neurophysiology at King's College Hospital London, and Kent and Canterbury Hospital, where he runs one of the few NHS clinics dedicated solely to carpal tunnel syndrome, explains why people wake up with symptoms and why wearing a splint can be helpful. Osteoporosis features regularly in our in-box - particularly concerns about bisphosphonates, the gold standard treatment for the bone thinning condition. Every year in the UK around 300,000 people break a bone - such as a hip or wrist - following a relatively trivial injury because their bones are weaker than they should be. Most are middle aged and elderly. Drugs like alendronate and etidronate are prescribed to make bones stronger after a fracture. Peter Selby, Professor of metabolic bone disease at the University of Manchester and a consultant at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, answers queries about how long these drugs should be taken.

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