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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 24 September 2007

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How healthy is your stomach?

DO you suffer from recurring bouts of indigestion, persistent upset stomachs or reflux and use antacids to relieve your symptoms? If the answer is yes, why not try GastroView – the 3 in 1 indigestion test, a unique new test available at Assura Pharmacy, West Everton – the first pharmacy chain in the country to offer it.

The test, developed and produced by Biohit, works by detecting the presence of the H.pylori (Helicobacter pylori) bacterium in the stomach. H.pylori has been identified as one of the main causes of stomach problems and, if left untreated can lead to a range of conditions including stomach ulcers and inflammation of the stomach lining. Infection has also been linked to an increased risk of developing stomach cancer .

Many people dismiss stomach problems and indigestion as a consequence of their lifestyle, and it is estimated that 25% of the population use antacids to relieve symptoms without knowing if there is an underlying long-term problem. It is thought that 5-10% of those over the age of 45 suffer from conditions involving inflammation of the stomach lining. The good news is that, in most cases, a course of antibiotics can be enough to eradicate the H. pylori infection.

The test is unique in that it not only checks for the presence of H.pylori (Helicobacter pylori), but also examines the extent of any damage caused to the stomach lining by the presence of the bacterium, or from other causes. This is the first time it’s been possible to investigate the level of damage to the stomach lining at your pharmacy without the need for an unpleasant procedure such as a gastroscopy.

GastroView offers people with everyday stomach conditions an insight into what is happening within their stomach – one of the most complex organs in the body. Simply buy the test off the shelf and make an appointment with the pharmacist for a quick and virtually painless finger prick to collect a small blood sample. Once the sample has been taken it will be sent to the Biohit laboratory for extensive analysis. A comprehensive report is then sent to you - along with recommendations for treatment, if appropriate - which you can share with your GP or Assura Pharmacist for further advice.

Shirley Cox, store manager of Assura Pharmacy, West Everton:- “We are delighted to be offering this new service to our customers. Conditions such as indigestion, upset stomachs and reflux are usually considered to be a consequence of lifestyles, but there could be an underlying long term problem, which for the first time can be ruled out by using GastroView.  We know people are becoming more aware of screening tests to assist in getting to the root cause of long-term conditions and we are happy to talk to customers to explain how the test works and what the results may highlight.” 

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Under doctor’s orders

THE STORY of Liverpool’s groundbreaking medical record has inspired a major new festival.  Extraordinary Journey will examine the city’s role at the cutting edge of health and wellbeing with a range of free events, including exhibitions, walks and talks.

The North West has been at the very heart of health innovation for more than 200 years, leading the way for a host of ground-breaking developments: ranging from the appointment of the country’s first medical officer for health 1847; to the launch of the highly influential Smokefree Liverpool campaign in 2004.

Councillor Warren Bradley, leader of Liverpool city council and deputy chair of the Liverpool Culture Company, said:- “Many people will be unaware of the extent to which Liverpool has influenced the development of health and social care.  A significant number of medical advancements originated in Liverpool, many of which we now take for granted. For example, it was a doctor working at Liverpool Maternity Hospital who introduced the use of gas and air during childbirth, and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine – the first of its kind in the world – was responsible for developing mosquito netting suitable for mass production.  It’s particularly fitting that we’re marking these achievements in the city’s 800th birthday year, which is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate Liverpool’s amazing history.”

Extraordinary Journey will also look at the civic design and creative advancements that have enhanced life on Merseyside, including the opening of Birkenhead Park in 1847 – the country’s first public park and the inspiration for New York’s Central Park.

Louise O’Brien, Project Manager for English Heritage said:- “English Heritage is proud to support this unique project which tells the fascinating and often under-told history of the built heritage of Liverpool and its connection to the development of health and social care provision in the city.  The significance of the buildings that have played an integral role in Liverpool’s pioneering approach to health care can not be underestimated and the festival is a fantastic way of revealing just how innovative Liverpool has been in this field.”

Festival organisers are keen to recognise the contribution that Liverpool’s modern-day health practitioners continue to make to the sector, and are encouraging them to share stories of innovation. People can add their own add pioneering achievements to the Extraordinary Journey Log by emailing sharon.sephton@liverpool.gov.uk with a description of no more than 150 words.

Extraordinary Journey is organised by the Liverpool Culture Company, in partnership with English Heritage, the University of Liverpool, Liverpool Healthy City, PSS, Liverpool NHS Primary Care Trust, the Jepson-Hughes Medical Collection, the Duncan Society and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

The festival runs from September 14 to November 30. A full list of events is provided in the festival brochure, which is available from health settings across Liverpool and in the 08 Place in Whitechapel. An events guide can also be downloaded from www.liverpool08.com.

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