Today is World Diabetes Day, which aims to combat this dangerous disease. Not only is type 2 diabetes severe and life-threatening on its own, but if it is left untreated, it can lead to many serious health complications, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney disease and many more.

The most recent UK figures based on data from the Health Survey for England (HSE) suggest that one in three adults are ‘on the cusp’ of developing type 2 diabetes, as they are living with a condition known as prediabetes, often called borderline diabetes.

Prediabetes: a warning shot

Prediabetes is where blood sugar levels register as higher than usual but are currently lower than the threshold for diagnosing diabetes. This condition is a critical warning sign, as it indicates an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. It is estimated that around up to 10% of people with prediabetes will go on to progress to ‘full-blown’ type 2 diabetes at some point.

Identifying and managing prediabetes is vital. Recent UK research found that women living with prediabetes had more of an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease than men. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and University College London (UCL) analysed data from 427,435 people, split equally between men and women. This included those living with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, and those without diabetes.

The study found that the risk of living with raised blood sugar levels is more significant for women with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes than it is for men. Women with prediabetes had a 30 to 50% greater risk of developing CVD compared to women without diabetes. This figure was 30% for men with prediabetes.

Prediabetes: knowing your risk factors

Prediabetes is a state of impaired glucose metabolism, where the body’s cells do not respond to insulin as effectively as they should. This results in higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. Prediabetes is often asymptomatic, meaning it doesn’t produce noticeable symptoms in most cases. However, several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing prediabetes, including obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, a family history of diabetes, and age.

While prediabetes itself may not present obvious symptoms, understanding these risk factors and recognising the early signs of type 2 diabetes is crucial.

  • Increased thirst and urination: Excessive thirst (polydipsia) and frequent urination (polyuria) are common early signs of type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels cause the kidneys to work harder to filter glucose from the bloodstream, increasing urine production.
  • Fatigue: People with type 2 diabetes often experience unexplained fatigue and weakness. This results from the body’s inability to effectively use glucose for energy.
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain: Some individuals may experience unintended weight loss, while others may gain weight despite no significant changes in diet or activity. Weight fluctuations can be due to insulin resistance or imbalanced blood sugar levels.
  • Increased hunger: Individuals with type 2 diabetes may feel constantly hungry. This is because their cells are not receiving adequate glucose, leading to a perceived need for more food.
  • Blurred vision: Elevated blood sugar levels can affect the fluid levels in the eyes, causing temporary vision disturbances. Blurry vision is a common symptom and can improve with proper glucose management.
  • Slow wound healing: High blood sugar levels can impair the body’s ability to heal wounds and fight infections. This can lead to delayed wound healing and an increased risk of infections.
  • Numbness or tingling: Peripheral neuropathy, a condition that affects the nerves in the extremities, is a common complication of type 2 diabetes. It can result in numbness, tingling, and pain in the hands and feet.
  • Recurrent infections: People with uncontrolled type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to infections, such as urinary tract infections, skin infections, and yeast infections.

Early detection and intervention are essential to manage and potentially reverse prediabetes or prevent the progression to type 2 diabetes.

Lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and managing stress, can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Diabetes screening is a blood glucose test and urine analysis to measure blood sugar levels.

If your blood sugar levels are raised, lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing diabetes in the future. At GP London W1 we can help you take proactive steps to protect your health and wellbeing.

An ambitious UK health research project has identified that over half the adult population has high total cholesterol levels.

Our Future Health is recruiting up to five million volunteers to create the most detailed picture of our health to transform the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of common diseases. In a report published earlier this year, 62% of women tested had high cholesterol compared to just under 50% of men.

October is National Cholesterol Month, raising awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy cholesterol level and the difference that small lifestyle changes can make to your heart health.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is an important molecule that controls many bodily functions. It regulates hormones as well as manufacturing bile acids, which are used to absorb fatty foods. Cholesterol is carried through our bloodstream on proteins known as high density lipoproteins (HDL) or low density lipoproteins (LDL). The former is often known as ‘good cholesterol’ and LDL as ‘bad cholesterol’, as it can cause blood vessels to become narrowed or blocked.

Raised levels of LDL can increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, angina, and stroke. If cholesterol levels are too high, medication may be needed to bring it down. Whether in conjunction with medication or as a method for managing raised cholesterol levels, essential lifestyle changes can make a difference and our GPs can help guide you on how best to make these changes.

How to lower cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes

  1. Increase your intake of plant foods: rich in vitamins and nutrients, plant foods do not contain cholesterol or saturated fats, which may increase cholesterol in the body
  2. Eat high-fibre foods: this can reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed into the bloodstream from your intestine
  3. Avoid trans fats: any food that is chemically processed can raise overall cholesterol levels in the body
  4. Limit saturated fats: found in red meat and full-fat dairy products, these raise your total cholesterol. Restricting your consumption can lower the level of LDL or bad cholesterol
  5. Quit smoking: smokers typically have lower levels of good cholesterol and elevated levels of bad cholesterol, and quitting can improve the balance
  6. Adopt regular exercise: this is an integral part of lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing levels of HDL

A cholesterol test will measure total cholesterol, LDL, protective HDL cholesterol, and an analysis of your blood triglyceride levels. To arrange a test at GP London W1, call +44 (0)20 4580 1152  to arrange an appointment.

Every year, October is dedicated to breast cancer awareness; in the UK, around 55,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. We know that early diagnosis affects survival rates, and an annual female health check can be beneficial for detecting early symptoms of breast cancer along with the early stages of other serious health conditions.

Your Well Woman Check can be tailored to your needs and requirements, depending on your age, lifestyle and medical history. Essential screening for women can include:

Breast cancer screening

The first detectable symptoms of breast cancer are a new lump or area of thickened breast tissue, irritation or dimpling of the skin, a change in the appearance of the nipples, nipple pain or nipple discharge or any change to the size or shape of the breast. You should see your GP immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

During your breast cancer screening, we will visually and manually check for any of these signs, and we can organise mammograms and breast ultrasounds.

Cervical cancer screening

A regular smear test is one of the most effective ways to avoid developing cervical cancer. It is not a test for cancer but checks for potentially harmful cells that could become cancerous. If your screening detects abnormal cells, a colonoscopy can be arranged to check the cells or treatment to remove them.

High blood pressure screening

High blood pressure, or hypertension, can often cause no immediate symptoms, but it is associated with developing serious conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

The risk for women increases as they age, and the only way to determine whether you have high blood pressure is to check your blood pressure regularly. High blood pressure can often be managed or controlled by changing your lifestyle.

Bone density screening

Bone density is a critical issue that affects women as they get older. Changes in hormone levels can cause a decrease in bone mass, increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis and making you more susceptible to back pain and fractures. Certain health conditions can make you more predisposed to low bone density.

A bone density test, or DEXA scan, is a type of X-ray that measures the strength of bones. Depending on your degree of risk, treatment can include medication and lifestyle changes to preserve bone density as much as possible.

Diabetes screening

It’s estimated that 850,000 people could be living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes in the UK. Even a mildly raised glucose level left untreated can cause problems in the long term, as high glucose levels can damage the blood vessels, nerves and even organs.

Diabetes screening is a blood glucose test and urine analysis to measure blood sugar levels. If your blood sugar levels are raised, lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing diabetes in the future.

To find out more about the Well Woman Checks we offer at GP London W1, call +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to arrange an appointment with one of our doctors

The news that presenter Alastair Stewart is living with dementia at age 71 has been covered extensively in the UK media, including the symptoms that promoted him to seek help – that “something up there” wasn’t right and the feeling of being “a bit discombobulated”.

As he explained: “I wasn’t becoming forgetful, but things like doing up your shoelaces properly, making sure the tie was straight, and remembering the call time for your programme.

“I then decided at my age that I might have something wrong up here. I told my doctor I was worried I might have early onset dementia.”

After a series of strokes, Alastair has revealed he has vascular dementia. To manage his condition, he has stopped smoking, is taking long walks with his dogs, and completes word puzzles to improve his physical and mental health.

Alzheimer’s Research UK executive director Samantha Benham-Hermetz said: “Our thoughts are with Alastair Stewart and his family, following the news he has vascular dementia. We applaud Alastair’s brave decision to share his diagnosis publicly and raise awareness, while also urging others to seek help if they have their own concerns about dementia.

“By speaking so openly and honestly about his experience, we hope this will put a further spotlight on the desperate need to find new treatments for all forms of dementia.”

September marks World Alzheimer’s Month, and this year’s campaign theme is ‘Never too early, never too late’. As well as highlighting the importance of identifying risk factors, it also focuses on making lifestyle changes to delay, and potentially even prevent, the onset of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease and diet

Interestingly, recent studies have focused on the link between Alzheimer’s disease and nutrition.

In a new study, a team from the University of California was able to reconfigure the circadian clocks of animals in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s, through intermittent fasting. Current treatments don’t target this aspect of the disease, but there might be other avenues of managing the condition.

Further studies published recently have looked at the link between inflammatory diets and dementia risk and the effect of lifestyle changes, including diet and physical activity, on micro-ribonucleic acid (miRNA) expression in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

A healthy lifestyle has been associated with up to a 60% reduced risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, with modifiable risk factors, including obesity in middle age and a sedentary lifestyle.

Likewise, specific diets such as the Mediterranean diet appear to protect cognitive function and support healthy ageing.

For more advice on preventative medicine and healthy lifestyle changes, call +44 (0)20 4580 1152  to arrange a GP consultation with GP London W1.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, and about one in eight men in the UK will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and your risk increases with age.

More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year on average. But, the good news is that prostate cancer is often highly curable with early diagnosis and treatment.

September marks Orchid Male Cancer Awareness Week 2023, which seeks to raise awareness of male cancer, including prostate cancer.

The prostate is a gland, the size and shape of a walnut, which sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra. Its primary function is to help make sperm, which grows larger as you age. The most common prostate problems are an enlarged prostate and also prostate cancer, which develops when prostate cells grow uncontrolled.

Sometimes, prostate cancer grows too slowly to cause problems or limits how long you’ll live and doesn’t require treatment. But it can proliferate and spread.

Prostate cancer symptoms to watch out for

Early-stage prostate cancer doesn’t usually cause any symptoms. In fact, urinary symptoms such as problems passing urine isn’t usually caused by prostate cancer. This is more likely caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

If prostate cancer has spread, it can cause symptoms such as back or bone pain, fatigue, and weight loss for no reason.

Therefore, knowing your modifiable risks and undergoing regular testing is essential.

A new UK study has established that a ten-minute MRI scan could be used to screen men for prostate. The scans have proved more accurate at diagnosing cancer than blood tests, which look for high protein levels called PSA.

For the Reimagine study published in the British Medical Journal of Oncology, men aged 50 to 75 in London were invited for screening – both MRI and PSA tests – which were carried out at University College Hospital.

More than half the men whose cancer was picked up on MRI had low PSA test scores below which is considered normal, and so would have been falsely reassured they were free of disease.

Professor Caroline Moore, consultant urologist at UCLH and chief investigator of the study at University College London, said: “Our results give an early indication that MRI could offer a more reliable method of detecting potentially serious cancers early.”

Our comprehensive Well Man Medicals encompass all approved tests for potential male health conditions and we also can work with you to adopt healthy lifestyle changes to modify your risks of developing potential health concerns. We also can refer to London’s top urologists for access to an MRI scan.

Call +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to arrange an appointment with one of our team.

The government has recently launched a new public health consultation which aims to increase take-up of occupational health services. Employers will be encouraged to offer their employees occupational mental and physical health support, particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises.

It is unsurprising that occupational health has become a focus for the government. The latest figures show that the number of people who are economically inactive due to long-term sickness has increased to 2.55 million, and last year alone there were 186 million working days lost to illness or injury. Yet, the consultation notes that only 45% of workers in the UK have access to OH services.

Benefits of Occupational Health Services

The benefits for companies in investing in employee mental and physical wellbeing are manifold; it leads to reduced sickness absence, higher performance and productivity and better employee engagement and retention. And the importance to employees of occupational health provision is undeniable – studies have estimated that we spend 35% of our waking hours working. 

“Work is such a significant part of our lives, so our occupational health work is really satisfying. Our work is broadly split between musculoskeletal issues and work-related stress, depression or anxiety,” explains Dr Fiona Payne. “The latter has been exacerbated since the Covid pandemic.”

Occupational health provider in Central London

At GP London W1, our doctors are all qualified in Occupational Health Medicine and experienced in working with a range of different businesses and industries. The occupational health services we provide includes:

  • Fitness to work assessments: to assess whether an employee is mentally and physically fit to fulfil their role and to support them with reasonable adjustments if needed.
  • Risk assessments: this can cover fitness to travel to workstation assessments.
  • Pre-employment medicals: to assess whether a potential employee is fit for their role and to make recommendations on any adjustments that may be required.

“Many patients can initially be daunted seeing an occupational health doctor,” explains Dr Caroline Wall. “They have had a referral from the management, and they are often concerned that this is a way of sidelining or removing them.

“But this is not the case at all. Occupational health is about supporting people whatever their challenges, and we work with the employer to support the employee so they can fulfil their role by recommending reasonable adjustments.”

For more advice on the Occupational Health services offered by GP London W1, call +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to speak to one of the team.

Cardiovascular disease encompasses all conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, the most common type of heart disease. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 7.6 million men and women live with cardiovascular disease in the UK.

About eight in 10 cases of cardiovascular disease are linked to preventable risk factors, such as poor diet, obesity, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Finding innovative new methods for preventing cardiovascular disease will be an ongoing focus for the UK government as it appoints its first-ever Champion for Personalised Prevention.

The importance of cardiovascular health

Health tsar John Deanfield, a former Olympian and professor of cardiology at University College London, will lead the task force composed of experts from such diverse backgrounds as health economics, behavioural science, and technology. They will review how personalised data and tech can be harnessed to predict and manage heart disease more effectively.

Professor Deanfield said: “I am thrilled to continue my work with the Government on cardiovascular disease prevention. This appointment provides a real opportunity to radically rethink our approach to cardiovascular health and disease prevention. We intend to build an ongoing, life-long programme that empowers people to take control of predicting, managing and reducing their lifetime cardiovascular risk.”

Comprehensive executive medicals in London’s Harley Street

Our comprehensive executive medicals address health risk factors with a strong focus on cardiovascular health. They also go beyond simple screening, as we provide ongoing monitoring and preventative and management strategies.

It comprises several tests and scans to identify any issues with your heart at an early stage, including a coronary heart CT scan. This scan can help to spot calcium build-ups within your heart that can cause causes your arteries to narrow. As well as a heart CT scan, we test resting ECG and cholesterol levels, screen for atrial fibrillation, and calculate your cardiovascular risk score.

Some people may not be aware they are at risk of a heart attack or stroke because risk factors can be silent; you may have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol levels without having any symptoms.

Our clinic at 25 Harley Street has access to onsite world-class Diagnostics and Imaging. Call +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to arrange a medical at GP London W1.

Following on from our praise of parkrun and in honour of National Love Parks Week here in the UK, here’s a rundown of the events held around London.

London has more parkrun events than any other city worldwide and options to run with buggies and dogs so the whole family can enjoy it together. Over 50 parks and green spaces host parkruns on Saturdays in London, including Clapham Common, Greenwich, Highbury Fields, Finsbury Park, and Richmond Park.

But with so many options, how do you choose which one to run each week?

Bushy parkrun was where it all started in 2004 with just 13 friends and is now the biggest event with over 1,000 participants most weeks. Barking boasts a lake and a not-too-taxing path, with the final 200-metres through a tree-lined avenue, making it one of the most picturesque parkruns in London.

Old Deer Park parkrun in Richmond-upon-Thames typically receives a mere 85 runners and is an entirely grass event with some ‘gentle undulations’. Clapham Common parkrun is a two-lap run of the heath with many cafes nearby for your post-run coffee. Probably the closest parkrun to GP London in Harley Street is the Wormwood Scrubs event which is run in the shadow of the infamous prison and boasts a challenging route run entirely on grass.

Click here to see all your London parkrun options

But don’t worry if parkrun doesn’t sound like your idea of fun. “People work out in different ways. Part of what we do as GPs is find out what they enjoy doing and encourage them to make it part of their routine,” explains Dr Fiona Payne. “Personally, I don’t do parkrun, as I’m a long-distance runner and the first 5km is the bit I hate! I like running on my own at 6am in the morning when no one is around and it’s only when I do an event that I’m running with people.”

Dr Payne is doing the Royal Parks Half Marathon this October. Starting and finishing in Hyde Park, it travels through four of London’s Royal Parks – Hyde Park, Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.

Call  +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to arrange a GP appointment or book one of our comprehensive medicals at GP London W1.

From its humble beginnings in London’s Bushy Park in 2004 with just 13 friends partaking in a 5km timed run, to a global event that sees more than 350,000 runners around the globe turn up every Saturday, parkrun has become a phenomenon.

So, why has it become such an essential fix for so many people of all running abilities and why does the Royal College of Practitioners believe patients should be ‘prescribed’ parkrun to improve health and wellbeing and reduce the need for lifelong medication?

In 2018, the RCGP and parkrun launched a joint initiative to promote parkrun to patients. Since then, research has accumulated into the positive benefits for those suffering from various chronic conditions, from diabetes to depression.

Social prescribing with private GP

“Social prescribing and primary prevention are the most important roles of a GP.

“We are constantly talking to our patients about the importance of diet and exercise for their health and wellbeing and trying to find ways to motivate them,” explains Dr Justine Setchell.

“I recently attended a diabetes prevention talk and one of the statistics quoted was that a five-to-six-minute brisk walk per day increased life expectancy by four years,” agrees Dr Fiona Payne.

This is borne out by new research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The ambitious UK study analysed health data for more than 30 million people and found that walking for at least 11 minutes per day could lower the risk of premature death by almost 25%.

3 benefits of parkrun

  1. It gives you a – scientifically-proven – boost

A 2018 study conducted by Glasgow Caledonian University found that 89% of parkrunners believed taking part made them feel happier, boosted their mental health and improved their body image.

  1. It could add years to your life

A study published last year in the British Journal of General Practice found that more than 9% of all participants and 45% of walkers reported at least one long-term health condition. These ranged from arthritis, obesity, hypertension, chronic pain, anxiety or depression, and Type 2 diabetes. Whatever their finishing time, respondents perceived that their physical health improved.

  1. You don’t have to run – or walk – to reap the benefits

A survey of over 60,000 parkrunners, conducted independently by Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), found that the benefits of parkrun extended to those who volunteer as well as those who take part. Eighty-four per cent of volunteers said that volunteering made them feel happier.

In part, this is believed to be due to the connection to community that volunteers experience, another benefit of parkrun. And this was the inspiration for parkrun. Founder Paul Sinton-Hewitt was an injured runner who missed seeing his friends and set up parkrun to stay in touch.

“Parkrun is just part of my routine; when we go on holiday, I’ll find my nearest parkrun and it’s something we do as a family,” Dr Setchell confirms. “I had a serious skiing injury earlier this year, but as soon as I was off crutches, I went back to parkrun to volunteer. It was essential for my mental health. Partly, because it was important to feel a sense of community, but it also gave me reassurance that I would return to running. There are people in their 80s still running every week.”

Call  +44 (0)20 4580 1152 to arrange a GP appointment or book one of our comprehensive medicals at GP London W1.

The Covid pandemic has had a profound impact on healthcare in the UK, and a recent UK survey suggests that a third of adults have had an appointment with a private GP in the last three years.

With more than half of respondents considering going private for GP appointments, here’s what you need to know if you’re considering private treatment.

Why might I want a private GP appointment?

The survey revealed that the appeal of private medicine was being seen quickly and in person. With NHS GPs now regularly seeing at least 60 patients a day, according to recent figures, a private GP practice can offer longer consultations and more flexibility and deliver continuity of care.

“When balancing both NHS and private GP work, the difference was marked. In private practice, we can offer patients more time, resources, and access to specialist care,” Dr Caroline Wall explains.

Dr Fiona Payne agrees: “I still do one NHS morning session per week, and I might see patients for five minutes or so, and I will probably never see them again. I had a busy day yesterday here at GP London W1 and saw 13 patients all day.”

How do I get a private appointment?

Our private GP appointments are available either in-person or online, and most patients self-pay, although some health insurance policies may provide access to private GP services. Check the terms of your policy, as it will specify which providers are included and the number of appointments you’re entitled to.

How much will it cost?

Paying for a private GP appointment

Our new patient consultations are 45 minutes long and cost £295, and our regular face-to-face consultations are £235. Our telephone and video consultations are shorter and are charged accordingly. Any prescriptions will be charged separately, and costs are dependent on the medication.

How will my NHS care be affected if I pay for private treatment?

The guidance from the The Department of Health and Social Care states that your NHS care will always continue to be free of charge, and your position on an NHS waiting list should not be affected if you choose to have a private consultation.

We advise all our patients to remain registered with their NHS GP should you need to revert to their care down the line.

Can I get an NHS prescription after a private diagnosis?

Private prescriptions cannot be transferred to an NHS prescription. However, most NHS GPs are receptive to taking over subsequent medication prescribing if they are satisfied that the diagnosis and treatment plan is appropriate.

Next steps

“I believe we’re offering NHS medicine with time,” Dr Justine Setchell concludes. “We do everything our NHS colleagues do but have bought our patients and us time.”

Whatever your health concern, from small to large, GP London W1 will deliver the same service, following NICE guidelines and only offering evidence-based medicine. Call  +44 (0)20 4580 1152  to arrange a private GP appointment.