One in five adults over 40 impaired by Alzheimer’s

As Appeared in the Herald March 29 2012

The brains of half a million Scottish adults are being damaged by the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a leading expert has warned.

One in five over the age of 40 has suffered from a “significant degree of mental impairment” which is caused by the disease but undiagnosed, said Professor Claude Wischik, chairman in mental health at Aberdeen University. Official statistics show there are 84,000 diagnosed sufferers in Scotland.

Last night the charity Alzheimers Scotland said it would like to compare Mr Wischik’s evidence to its current methodology.

The professor said his research estimates around one-third – 170,000 people – will get full-blown Alzheimer’s in the next decade.

The degenerative brain condition causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour which gradually become worse. Sufferers usually die from multiple organ failure.

Mr Wischik, who spent 10 years researching the subject, said: “We calculate about 500,000 of the five million population in Scotland have a combination of a significant degree of mental impairment and significant brain pathology.

“Of these, only 50,000 to 80,000 appear as Alzheimer’s statistics. The rest are at early stages that are likely to progress over the next 10 years to full-blown dementia.”

Mr Wischik, who said his statistics applied to those aged 40 and over, warned that NHS bosses faced a “progressively greater” financial strain when it comes to tackling the disease.

He said: “Half of acute hospital patients are basically dementia patients. In acute-care hospitals they present a social and management problem that the acute-care system is poorly equipped to deal with.

“Systems need to be in place to intervene before these patients get into the acute-care system.”

The findings come after one of the largest post-mortem studies ever carried out, in which 847 bodies were studied by the Braak’s research group.

The study looked at the brains of 17 people per age bracket from aged 40-plus, and classified the evidence of Alzheimers disease.

From this evidence, Mr Wischik calculated the number of Scots likely to be suffering early symptoms of the disease.

He added: “The system can’t cope the way it is. There has to be a radical overhaul.

“There will be a premium on early diagnosis and intervention that is way outside the scope of what the NHS is currently able to deliver.

A spokeswoman for Alzheimer’s Scotland said it would have to take on board the findings.

She said: “Currently the best available statistics show that about 84,000 people in Scotland are likely to have dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease or other conditions.

“As Mr Wishik’s figures are significantly different, we would very much like to review his evidence base in relation to our current methodology and wider policy implications.

“We greatly welcome further research to improve our understanding of how and why people develop dementia, so that we might ultimately find ways to prevent or cure the illness.”

Prime Minister David Cameron this week announced that funding for dementia research would be doubled to £66 million to tackle what he called a “national crisis”.

There is no known cause of Alzheimer’s, but risk factors include age, genetics and a family history of the disease.

Complications include heart attacks, thromboembolisms, strokes, kidney failure and lung infections.

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Dyslexic Dunc spells it out to Twitter ‘bullies’

As appeared Scottish Daily Record March 8 2012

DYSLEXIC Dragons’ Den star Duncan Bannatyne has blasted back at “bullies” who pulled him up for spelling mistakes on Twitter.

The 62-year-old Scots multi-millionaire, who left school with no qualifications, got involved in an online argument with some of his 495,508 followers, calling one an “idiot”.

The row started when he tweeted: “What is Obama saying? What kind of speach is this? He is on BBC news talking around in circles.”

One follower, Matthew Steeples, wrote: “Spelling is very important Duncan. Don’t make mistakes.”

Another, Christian Egan, tweeted: “Spelling and grammar: the difference between knowing your s*** and knowing you’re s***!” But Bannatyne hit back: “Anyone picking up my spelling rather than debating the issue is an idiot. You know who you are.”

To one of his followers, who said: “DuncanBannatyne pounds badspellingisapethateofmine…”, he replied: “Spelling bullies who think they are superior because they were educated are silly people.”

To another who asked, “u had a bad day duncan? pounds grumpy”, he said, “Nope I just don’t like bullies.”

And when the tweeter wrote, “a life lesson: wealth doesn’t correlate with ability to spell!”, Bannatyne responded, “Exactly the opposite, most successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic Never met a rich spelling snob.”

A Dyslexia Scotland spokeswoman said: “There are many respected entrepreneurs, musicians, actors, entertainers and scientists who are dyslexic.”

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As appeared in Scottish Daily Record March 8 2012

BOSSES of Edinburgh’s troubled trams project probably wish they could turn back time… but surely this is taking things too far.

Bungling workers sliced through a cable yesterday, stopping the five-star Balmoral Hotel’s famous clock and leaving shops and offices without power.

As well as the disruption at the £500-a-night hotel, the rush-hour power cut at the east end of Princes Street affected the Scottish Government’s St Andrews House.

And Register House, which holds records of Scotland’s births, marriages and deaths, was closed down for two hours, according to staff.

A worker said: “The power cut caused major disruptions and all members of the public had to leave the building because of fire safety. All the power went down and we had to get electricians in.”

ScottishPower confirmed the problem was caused by tram workers damaging a cable.

A council spokesman said a worker had cut through the cable with an electric saw and had suffered minor injuries in the incident.

The tram project has been dogged by problems. It is years behind schedule and the budget has soared from its original £375million to an estimated £1billion.

The planned route has also been cut and trams will run from the airport to St Andrew Square. The line is now due to open in the summer of 2014.

And the Record revealed last week that main contractors Bilfinger Berger were under fire for dumping toxic waste at the wrong site to save cash.


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As appeared in Mail on Sunday February 26 2012

A woman declared dead after she suffered a massive heart attack astonished doctors and her grieving family when she suddenly came back to life.

Relatives of Lorna Baillie were devastated when a team of medics withdrew treatment after spending three hours trying to revive her.

The family gathered around her hospital bed to say their goodbyes after doctors told them the 49-year-old grandmother was ‘technically dead’, being kept artificially alive only by a combination of adrenaline, electric shocks and CPR.

It was then, 45 minutes later, that Mrs Baillie’s disabled husband John, 58, whispered ‘I love you’ to his wife. As John, his son and three daughters sat beside Mrs Baillie, they were surprised to see her colour gradually improve. A nurse present in the room assured them this was a normal side effect of prolonged emergency treatment.

And when Mrs Baillie’s eyelids flickered and she appeared to squeeze her eldest daughter Leanne’s hand, the nurse again assured the family that ‘involuntary movements’ were to be expected.

Unconvinced, the family demanded the nurse call in a doctor, who found a pulse and rushed Mrs Baillie to intensive care.

Daughter Leanne Porteous, 31, said: ‘I asked the nurse if it was normal that she squeezed my hand and that she had opened her eyes and she said it was.

‘We are so close as a family and we are not the kind of people to just give up. We were telling my mum to be strong. I kept saying to her, “Come back, Mum, come back.”’

‘At one point my dad said, “Lorna come back, I love you,” and then –just like that – she was there again.’

Two weeks later, the former auxiliary nurse from Prestonpans, East Lothian, has even managed some ‘high-fives’ after sitting up in bed and communicating with her family. Mrs Baillie, a keen gardener and dog walker, collapsed at her home at 4.30pm on February 10.

Paramedics battled to resuscitate her before taking her to Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary where, at 8.45pm, a doctor told the family she had died.

Leanne said: ‘His words were that she was technically dead, but they had to wait until she had stopped breathing before they could pronounce her medically dead.’ Mrs Baillie’s miraculous signs of recovery followed, but medics warned that her chances of survival remained slim because her kidneys had failed and she was in a coma.

The family were still so worried that her daughter Charlene, 23, asked the hospital chaplain to obtain a special licence to allow her to get married by her mother’s bedside. But Mrs Baillie’s condition continued to improve and last week she was moved from intensive care to a medical ward.

An MRI scan yesterday revealed no obvious brain damage.

The family are now seeking an explanation from NHS Lothian and senior doctors have assured them staff will receive ‘extra training’ as a result of the incident.

Dr David Farquharson, medical director of NHS Lothian, said: ‘Mrs Baillie’s family were told to prepare for the worst but when she was checked again her vital signs had returned. This type of recovery is extremely rare and she is continuing to make progress.’


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Multiple births rise among over-40s

As appeared in The Herald February 25 2012

The number of women over 40 giving birth to twins and triplets in Scotland has nearly doubled in the past five years.

Figures from the General Register of Scotland also show an increase in the numbers of single children being born to older mothers since 2006.

In 2010, 73 Scots women over 40 gave birth to twins or triplets, compared with 41 in 2006.

The recently published figures also reveal the numbers of babies being born to mothers aged over 40 is on the rise, from 1804 in 2006 to 1918 in 2010.

The number of unmarried women in Scotland having a baby has also increased, from 658 in 2006 to 782 in 2010. A-list mothers over 40 who have given birth to twins include Geena Davies, Jane Seymour and Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross.

But senior doctors are increasingly concerned by the surge in the number of older women giving birth in multiples.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has warned that older women giving birth to twins and triplets are putting themselves at an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and pre-eclampsia. There is also an increased risk of twins and triplets being born prematurely or suffering chromosomal abnormalities, such as Down’s syndrome.

Consultant Obstetrician, Dr Daghni Rajasingam, said women over the age of 40 having twins or triplets were considered “high risk” by the NHS.

She said: “Women are having their children at an older age, and older women have an increased need for assistant techniques, such as IVF, which leads to an increased number of women having multiple pregnancies.

“Almost all pregnancy risks are increased when you are over the age of 40 and are increased even further when you are carrying twins or triplets”.

Dr Rajasingham said risks included babies being born early and more women needing C-sections.

Ros Altmann, of over-50s group Saga, said growing numbers of older women giving birth in Scotland was a positive matter.

She said: “This is tremendous news. Women are increasingly proving chronological age is not a barrier to many things, and what greater proof can there be than the rising numbers of over-40s having children?”


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Two-hour hospital loo ordeal

As appeared in Scottish Daily Record February 24 2012

A ONE-LEGGED, elderly heart surgery patient was abandoned in a hospital toilet for two hours – after staff apparently forgot about him.

It comes just weeks after a mum was forced to give birth on a frozen pavement outside the same hospital in Fife.

David Campbell, 78, was found sitting on a bin in the toilet after fellow patients at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy raised the alarm.

His daughter Lorraine Martin slammed staff for his “degrading and unforgivable” treatment.

She claimed her elderly dad soiled himself after he was “neglected” by staff and had to drag himself to the toilet.

The nurse, from Dunfermline, also alleged her dad was left on a porter’s trolley for eight hours when he was first admitted to hospital.

Earlier this month, we reported how Lisa McNeil, 25, from Glenrothes, had baby Jackson outside the door of a new wing of the hospital in the middle of the night – after nurses failed to answer a door buzzer for six minutes.

Martin said: “In my opinion, the new wing of the hospital opened too soon. There is a lack of dignity, a lack of equipment and a lack of staff.”

John Wilson, chief executive of NHS Fife’s operational division, said their patient relations department were investigating her concerns.


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As appeared in The Sun February 18 2012

SMOKERS at one of Scotland’s biggest companies have been banned from using electronic cigarettes at their desks.

Finance firm Standard Life say the e-cigs — which contain a nicotine solution but produce no smoke — break their strict rules against lighting up.

The company — which employs 9,000 people in Edinburgh — said users will have to go outside to get their fix like regular smokers.

A spokeswoman said: “Standard Life has been a no-smoking company for over 20 years and we have no plans to introduce e-cigarettes.”

The battery-powered cigs, which cost around £25, heat up the nicotine solution, giving users a hit and producing steam.

They have been used by A-list celebs like Kate Moss and Johnny Depp.

Other major employers including Glasgow and Edinburgh city councils allow their use within buildings.

Simon Clark of pro-smoking group Forest branded the ban “crazy”. But Sheila Duffy, of anti-tobacco charity ASH, said it “may help avoid the impression smoking is normal”.


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