February is a month full of very important health campaigns. Here’s how your pharmacy can get involved…
National Heart Month
According to the World Health Organization, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the number one killer in the UK and globally. Across the world, CVD accounts for an estimated 17.3 million deaths per year, with this figure expected to grow to 23.6 million by 2030.
CVD is a blanket term used to describe conditions that affect the heart and/or blood vessels. It includes coronary heart disease, angina, heart attack, hypertension, stroke and vascular dementia.
To help raise awareness, each year the British Heart Foundation declares February as National Heart Month to help draw focus to the importance of heart health. There are 7.4 million people in the UK living with CVD and the charity believes the only way to change this is through research of cures and treatments.
An understanding of risk factors is the most efficient way to keep the heart healthy. The more risk factors a customer has, the more likely they are to develop heart and circulatory diseases like heart attack or stroke.
"While some people have adopted healthier habits during lockdown, many others have found themselves concerned about their long term physical and mental health," says Barbara Kobson, BHF Senior Nurse Cardiac. "National Heart Month is the perfect opportunity to make small changes to your lifestyle that could help make a big difference to your heart health. Small changes, such as moving more, cutting down on alcohol, and eating a more balanced diet can have a big impact."
As well as continuing to encourage healthy living amongst customers, the BHF offers many ways for pharmacy teams to get involved with raising awareness about CVD including:
- Taking part in an event
- Book a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) course to learn how to save a life
- Making a donation (this can include clothes, shoes, and jewellery to sell on the eBay site)
Visit the British Heart Foundation website for more information.
Every little helps!
Donations can come in all shapes and sizes. When it comes to finding cures and treatments, every little helps. According to Heart Research UK, even the smallest donation can go a long way:
- £8 would buy two packs of ECG electrodes to be used in research into risk of sudden cardiac death
- £25 would fund the use of a ‘flow cytometer’ for one hour to analyse cells in the search for naturally-occurring chemicals that can help repair damaged hearts
- £40 will support a research project into the prevention, treatment, and cure of heart disease.
Eating Disorder Awareness Week: 28 February - 6 March
Eating disorders affect one in 50 people in the UK, with around 1.25 million people struggling from illnesses including bulimia, anorexia, binge eating and avoid food intake disorder (AFID).
These illnesses can have devastating effects on the quality of life of those suffering and their loved ones. Indeed, anorexia alone has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. With the right treatment and support, however, recovery is possible.
Run by the charity Beat, Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW) is an opportunity to put eating disorders in the spotlight. Every year the charity campaigns for those affected and raises funds to go towards the vital support services it offers.
This year, EDAW is focusing on improving the education of healthcare professionals in how to support those suffering from eating disorders. The focus is particularly on GPs who patients will rely on to spot early warning signs of an eating disorder that may have nothing to do with weight and appearance.
Despite this responsibility, most GPs receive less than two hours of training on eating disorders in their entire medical degree and a fifth of UK medical schools don’t provide any training at all, says Beat.
This lack of education has delayed access to treatment and led to misdiagnosis of eating disorders for years, they add. The consequences for people living with these mental illnesses can be devastating and, in some cases, deadly.
That’s why Beat is calling for all UK medical schools and foundation programmes to introduce proper training on eating disorders.
Visit the Beat website for more information.
Pharmacy teams can get involved in three ways
- Speak up – encourage customers to share positive/negative experiences with GPs to help showcase the difference knowledge, understanding and compassion can make for someone who is suffering – share your campaign efforts on social media to appeal to a wider audience.
- Step up – fundraise in the pharmacy through awareness campaigns, charity days or donation boxes to help amplify the call for proper training
- Skill up – pharmacy teams can research ways to improve their education about eating disorders so that they can provide better support for patients and recognise the all-important warning signs.