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Science
AM I NORMAL?
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PROGRAMME INFO
Tuesdays 30 September - 21 October 2008, 21.00-21.30
(Repeated Wednesdays 1 October - 22 October at 16.30)

We expect health professionals to tell us if we’re 'normal' or not, but how do they decide where to draw the line between someone who’s OK and someone who isn't? Vivienne Parry investigates.

Cartoon with phrase "Are you normal? No!"

Programme 1 - Anger

Vivienne Parry investigates a claim earlier this year that anger should be seen and treated as a mental health problem.

Anger can be a real problem, not only for our relationships but also for our health. New research shows, getting angry frequently is bad for your heart: the risk it presents of getting heart disease is up there with smoking or having high cholesterol. It also affects our immune function. Blisters take significantly longer to heal in people who often express anger.

Anger management experts say many of us could benefit from learning to express our anger more cleanly. But are we in danger of medicalising our every emotion?

Related links:

Avon and Wiltshire NHS Mental Health Partnership
Mental Health Foundation
BBC Health: Anger Management


Listen again Listen to programme 1

Programme 2 - Miscarriage

Clinical miscarriage is the most common complication of pregnancy, with an incidence of 15-20%. However, it is estimated that an additional 20-25% of fertilised eggs are lost very early before a woman’s period is due.

For our parents’ generation, these pregnancy losses were silent because they went undetected, but the latest home pregnancy tests now claim to identify pregnancy six days before a period is due, many more of these early losses will be picked up.

Women may feel they have miscarried and that something is wrong with them.

Vivienne Parry investigates.
 
The Miscarriage Association
BBC Health: Miscarriage

Listen again Listen to programme 2

Programme 3 - Blood Pressure

Vivienne Parry discovers what doctors think is normal blood pressure.

We’re often told we should know our blood pressure, but many of us have little idea what the numbers mean.

We rely on doctors to tell us what’s high and what’s normal, but now it seems, even they don’t agree. A blood pressure that most GPs would describe as OK is now considered worryingly high by leading researchers in the field.

Vivienne asks at what level doctors will start prescribing drugs to lower blood pressure, and she considers whether the food industry has a role to play in helping us reduce our chances of having a heart attack or stroke

Related links: 
 
Blood Pressure Association
British Hypertension Society
BBC Health: Hypertension


Listen again Listen to programme 3

Programme 4 - Working Memory

Working Memory is 'on line' information that we can retain for up to a minute - remembering a telephone number for example.

It develops with age and it’s normal for young children who are easily distracted to forget instructions or messages.

However studies suggest that working memory is the single most important predictor of academic success.

Vivienne Parry investigates a new test to be used in schools to screen infant children for 'working memory impairment'. Should parents worry that their forgetful child has a problem or is this normal?

Related links:

OPTIMA
Alzheimer's Society
Jungle Memory

Listen again Listen to programme 4
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