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The Increased Risk of Falls with Blood Pressure Medication

29 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 12 March 2014

At least 60% of adults over the age of 65 in industrialised countries are taking medication to lower their high blood pressure. The idea is to protect them against heart attacks and stroke, but for the average elderly person, new research has found that taking these pills increases your risk of having a serious fall. Although the benefits of low blood pressure outweigh the risks of a fall if people are otherwise healthy, it has been discovered that for those with other diseases, blood pressure pills do not actually reduce the risk of having a cardiovascular event. Mary Tinetti, Professor of Geriatric Medicine at Yale Medical School is the author of this new research, which has just been published in the American journal Internal Medicine and PLOS ONE.

Mobile Phone Autopsies
As many as two thirds of deaths that occur in the world go unrecorded. In Malawi, there is no official record of deaths that occur outside a medical facility, making it difficult to plan and budget for health services. But a new system of using mobile phones to conduct what are known as 'verbal autopsies' is going to create the country’s first database of deaths and causes. The BBC’s Anne Soy reports from the district of Mchinji in central Malawi.

Systematic Mammography
In most high income countries, women between 50-70 years old are invited to go for screening for breast cancer every two to three years. Over the years, eight large randomised controlled trials have reviewed the data and tried to work out how many lives this screening saves. The Swiss Medical Board has just reviewed these trials and is recommending that no new screening programmes be set up in Switzerland. And a large Canadian study has recently been published in the British Medical Journal and finds that mammography makes little difference to breast cancer mortality.

But Professor Stephen Duffy, from Queen Mary University of London, has published his own review of the reviews - and along with other reviews of the trials they come to a rather different conclusion. So what are women to think? Is it worth going for breast screening? Health Check brought together Professor Duffy with Dr Christian Weber, one of the authors of the Swiss Medical Board’s report.

(Photo: Elderly couple. Credit: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)


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    Health Check

    The BBC World Service's weekly round up of global health stories and topical issues in medicine.

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