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This week’s Friday Five: 16/9/22

Air pollution is putting healthy teenagers at risk of irregular heartbeats, study finds

In the first major study of the impact of air pollution on otherwise healthy young people, research finds that healthy teenagers are more prone to irregular heartbeats after breathing in fine particulate air pollution.

Researchers highlighted that the results were striking given that healthy teenagers are usually considered low risk for cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, the research uncovered that heart arrhythmias, which can increase the risk of heart disease and sudden cardiac death, appear to be triggered even when air pollution is within common air quality limits.

Dr Fan He, the lead author on the study at Penn State College of Medicine, said “Our findings suggest air pollution could trigger arrhythmias and contribute to sudden cardiac death among youth, which are devastating events for their families and larger communities.”

Read the full story in The Guardian.

Trust staff have been warned of 'harrowing' care standards review

Trust staff have been warned that an independent investigation into maternity services will be 'a harrowing read' with a profound and significant impact.

The report, originally due to be published on Wednesday 21 September but now postponed to October, looks into services at East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust between 2009 and 2020. The investigation was prompted by the death of week-old Harry Richford after a traumatic birth at the trust’s Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Hospital in Thanet in 2017. Around 200 families are thought to have contacted the investigation team sharing their concerns and experiences around maternity care.

Sarah Shingler, chief nursing and midwifery officer at East Kent, said: “We have worked hard to improve our service and invested to increase the numbers of midwives and consultants to extend the hours consultants are on site and one-to-one care in labour.

Read the full story in Health Service Journal.

Research has uncovered link between aspirin and higher rates of survival for cancer patients

Cardiff University researchers have found that taking aspirin can boost the survival chances of cancer patients and slow the spread of tumours.

They found direct evidence of patients who took aspirin surviving longer as well as evidence of biological mechanisms that might explain the effect including 'reductions by aspirin in cancer-related inflammation, abnormal clotting and abnormal blood vessel growth, and enhancement in cellular repair.'

Whilst the researchers stressed that further evidence was needed, they said that nonetheless there “appears to be an impressive harmony between the biological effects of aspirin on mechanisms relevant to cancer, and the effects of aspirin on clinical outcomes in cancer”.

Read the full story in The Times.

Research suggests vaping could trigger wave of disease in a decade

According to scientists, vaping could be on track to cause a wave of cancer in ten year's time, as around 3.6 million people in Britain smoke e-cigarettes and the long-term health risks are unclear.

Researchers at the Francis Crick Institute (FCI) have highlighted that whilst vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes, the long-term risks are unclear. They conducted studies to understand why those who are non-smokers develop lung cancer; their findings suggested that irritants such as air pollution cause inflammation, which is then followed by a healing process that “wakes up” dormant cells that can cause cancerous mutations and researchers worry that vaping may trigger the same process.

Professor Charles Swanton, clinical scientist at the FCI and chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, said: “I don’t think we can say vaping is necessarily a safe option to quit smoking. It may be safer but that doesn’t mean it’s safe… We don’t know for certain that vaping won’t cause lung cancer ten years from now.”

Read the full story in The Independent.

A global study has found that doctors suffering from burnout are far more likely to be involved in incidents where patients' safety is compromised.

Dr Rob Hendry, the medical director of the Medical Protection Society said: “When doctors are exhausted and burnt out, it is not only damaging for their personal wellbeing but also jeopardises patient care… If we don’t act now sadly many more passionate and committed doctors will become burnt out and disillusioned. Others will choose to leave the medical profession, resulting in a loss of expertise for patients and even more pressure on stretched resources.”

Read more at The Guardian.

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