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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Origins of the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

Entries for the 2012 Hippocrates Prize are now closed.

Co-organized with poet and translator Michael Hulse and new member of the team post-doctoral humanities researcher Sorcha Gunne, the 2012 Hippocrates Prize for poetry and medicine has been launched and plans are underway for the associated 3rd International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine, to be held at the Wellcome Collection rooms in London on Saturday May 12th 2012, when the 2012 awards will be presented.  There is already strong international interest from potential contributors to the Symposium programme.

See the 2010 blog
to find out more about the origins of this major prize, one of the best funded anywhere in the world for a single original poem, the first awards symposium in 2010, and comments from the first NHS and international winners, and from the inaugural judges, broadcaster and writer James Naughtie, doctor and poet Dannie Abse, and Medical Director of the NHS Sir Bruce Keogh.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Favourite poems on a medical theme - 2012

To mark the launch of the 2012 International Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, the organisers invited nominations of favourite poems with a medical theme.

'Medical' were to be interpreted in the broadest sense. Anyone in the world may nominate a poem. Nominations were to be for poems written by a poet from anywhere in the world and in any language. The poem could be contemporary or from any historical period.

When  a favourite poem on a medical theme was nominated, there was the option to add a comment about why you liked the poem and the poet.

Here are some examples of comments received:
On 'Patience Strong' by UA Fanthorpe: 'Here writes a poet about a poet, and about a lesson learnt from a gentleman living with epilepsy. Ursula Fanthorpe was a champion of the underdog, this poem is an epitome of both insight and humility and offers lessons to us all'.
On 'Hospital Waiting Room' by WH Davies: 'I love this poem. It was written in the early days of the NHS and is a fascinating look at class in British society from someone who put himself outside of it.'
On "The Pathology of Colours' by Dannie Abse: 'Abse is a master at combining the every day earthy detail with the mystical. He brings the world of medicine into the world of poetry in a way that speaks to all of us'.
On 'Seven Ages of Man' by William Shakespeare: 'A cameo of the whole of life from birth to frail, unknowing 'second childishness'.'
The top 10 entries will be included in an international Anthology on Poetry and Medicine to be published in 2012 by the Hippocrates Press.   

Dannie Abse - Song for Pythagoras and  The Pathology of Colours  
Joë Bousquet
- La pupille (… the half-opening of the swallow’s nest …) La Connaissance du Soir, 1947, Gallimard
Simon Bridges - Tomorrows  
Constantine Petrou Cavafy - The death of the Emperor Tacitus
Blaise Cendrars - Le ventre de ma mère [My mother's womb]
John Donne - No man is an island
   UA Fanthorpe - Patience Strong
Thom Gunn - In time of plague
Oliver Wendell Holmes - The morning visit
Jane Hirshfield - What binds us 
Victor Hugo -  Les feuilles d'Automne -  Ce siècle avait deux ans! [Autumn leaves - This century was 2 years old]
John Keats - Ode to a nightingale [... where palsy shakes a few, sad, last, gray hairs...]
Philip Larkin - Ambulances
Federico Garcia Lorca - El Lagarto Viejo (The Old Lizard
Stéphane Mallarmé: Le tombeau de Charles Baudelaire
Katherine Mansfield - A day in bed
Roger McGough - Wisdom Teeth Czeslaw Milosz - So little
John Milton – On his blindness
 and  Lycidas
Merrill Moore - The noise that time makes    
Thomas Nashe - A litany in time of plague      
Pablo Neruda - Oda ala tristeza (Ode to sadness)

Sylvia Plath - The companionable ills
Anna Piutti – Current
Peter Porter - A Chagall postcard
Peter Reading - C
Adrienne Rich – Power
William Shakespeare - Seven ages of man   [As you like it 2.3.139-167] 

Jo Shapcott - Hairless and  Of mutability
Stevie Smith - Not waving but drowning
Robert Louis Stevenson - The land of counterpane
Heather Wastie - Ping pong neonatal ICU    
William Carlos Williams - The last words of my English grandmother     
William Butler Yeats - When you are old  

The Hippocrates Prize is one of the highest value awards in the world for an unpublished poem in English on a medical theme. 

2012 Awards were presented by the judges at the close of the 3rd International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine on Saturday 12th May at the Wellcome Collection Rooms.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Healthy heart awards

The results of the inaugural 2011 ‘Healthy Heart Awards’ were announced on Thursday 14th July 2011 at a Symposium on Exercise and Cardiovascular Health organised in London by the Cardiovascular Research Trust. The overall 2011 award and best secondary school award went to the Enterprise Club of the Joseph Leckie CTC, Walsall. Best primary school award went to Forsbrook Primary, Stoke-on-Trent. And a ‘highly commended' award went to Hill West Primary School, Sutton Coldfield.  

The Cardiovascular Research Trust, supported by HTI, launched these new Healthy Heart Awards for schools and colleges in November 2010. The challenge for entrants to the 'Healthy Heart Awards' was to develop ideas for interactive educational ‘Healthy Heart’ programmes. The aim of the awards is to engage young and older school and college students from around the world in the health of their hearts. The aim of the award is to engage young and older school and college students in their health. 
Entries were to consist of original material and could include: a logo; pictures and names for suggested characters; text and images for and about helpful messages about health and the heart, favourite sports and activities, healthy foods and how they can help the heart, unhealthy things to avoid, how unhealthy things can harm the heart, heart problems; questions and quizzes; outlines for moving picture sequences for games to link any of the above; other ideas which could add to an educational ‘Healthy heart’ game. The organisers hoped that participating children and students would enjoy taking part, and that the Awards would provide an innovative opportunity for teaching and learning relevant to the curriculum, both for science and health.
Ben Edge, teacher at Joseph Leckie Community Technology College, winner of the overall 2011 Healthy Heart Awards, was impressed by the science learning, team-working, interest in health, and development of enterprise and commercial skills that taking part in the Awards inspired in his school students. He observed that “The ‘Healthy Heart App’ challenge from the CVRT allowed the students the opportunity to work towards a common goal as part of a team.
He added: "the students really enjoyed designing games and characters for the App, as well as researching and developing educational materials that teenagers can use to educate themselves about maintaining a healthy heart. The Joseph Leckie CTC Enterprise Club were able to develop important Enterprise and Commercial thinking skills by working towards the criteria provided by The CVRT.”
Mrs Emma Hindmarch, Year 6 Teacher at Forsbrook in the West Midlands, winner of the Primary School category in the 2011 Healthy Heart Awards, said, "We are absolutely thrilled to have won the Healthy Heart Primary School Award. The children really enjoyed researching good and bad things about the heart.  It was also a fun way for them to work together to revise the school's science curriculum."
Pupils from Hill West Primary also enjoyed taking part:
Khadeim, Year Six, said "I was really excited to be able to enter this competition which involved us developing an app that could help other children realise what is needed for a healthy heart."

Emily, Year Six, added: 'the whole experience was incredibly informative, I learnt a lot moreover I am happy to be educating other children in an exciting way via an app."

From the teaching perspective, Mrs Diane Hardeman, the teaching Assistant who co-ordinated the Hill West entry, said: "the competition enabled our pupils to use their scientific knowledge in a fun and esciting way. It is wonderful to see their efforts have been acknowledged furthermore we all look forward to seeing the app once it has been developed."
Award winning schools and colleges will have their entries incorporated into an ‘app’ to help children and young people around the world to find out more about the heart and how to keep it as healthy as possible.

Winners of the The 2012 Healthy Heart Awards will be announced in Summer 2012 in London at a Symposium on Cardiovascular Health organized by the Cardiovascular Research Trust.  

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Exercise and cardiovascular health on Everest

Jesuit priest Father Jose Acosta, wrote of his crossing the Andes in the late 16th century problems with sickness and vomiting which he attributed to the "thinne air", so "delicate as it is not proportionable wth the breathing of man". In 1865 the first man to climb the Matterhorn, Edward Whymper, recently commemorated in London by a blue plaque, was an early student of sickess at altitude. In recent modern times, climber Charles Houston made a major contribution to research into mountain sickness, his interest inspired by his episode in August 1953 of unconsciousness high on K2. He crystallised key ideas on mechanisms in his 1980 book "Going Higher: Oxygen, Man and Mountains".  Speaking about his talk at the 14th July Symposium on 'Exercise and Cardiovascular Health’ organized by the Cardiovascular Research Trust, Professor Chris Imray commented: "increasing numbers of people travel to altitude for both leisure and work purposes. On ascent to altitude, there is a reduction in atmospheric pressure, and there is consequently a reduction in the inspired levels of oxygen. The resulting physiological challenge stresses the body both at rest and further during exercise.
The cardio-respiratory challenges and the subsequent responses of ascending to high altitude will be discussed in detail, as will the role of ‘altitude training’."
Professor Imray will present "unique data from the Caudwell Xtreme Everest expedition, including arterial blood gases and the response to exercise at extreme altitude ...".
These studies provide important messages for health and risk for climbers at high altitude. They raise interesting questions about impact on brain and heart function of working at high altitude for border guards who are not acclimatised to low oxygen levels. They also provide insight into the physiological challenges and pressure for emergence of survival genetic variants for populations historically living at altitude.
See the symposium website for the programme.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Exercise and cardiovascular health

The good news is that even mild activity can be helpful in keeping healthy and in reducing risk of joining the pandemic of cardiovascular disease in the 'developed' world and emerging epidemic of heart attacks and strokes in less developed countries.
At the elite end of the exercise spectrum, internationally competitive athletes benefit from positive feedback effects of exercise on the heart and circulation. 
And for patients with established clinical heart problems, exercise under medical supervision is now well recognised to help to complement medical and surgical treatments to aid recovery and reduce the risk of future heart disease.
Not a good idea though for the out-of-condition to go from none to extreme exercise. What advice should the health or sports professional consider ?
These themes form the programme for a symposium on 'Exercise and cardiovascular health' in London on the afternoon of Thursday 14th July 2011. 
Of interest to a diverse audience - sports professionals and health professionals and students looking for an update on benefits and risks of exercise, from prospective to the elite athletes interested in benefits of exercise for their health and performance, to people with heart conditions wanting to find out more about exercise and the heart. And as an interesting case study on extreme athletes, surgeon and Everest researcher and mountaineer Professor Chris Imray will be discussing exercise at extreme altitude. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Anti-cholinergics, mortality and mental impairment

A report by a team of UK and US researchers in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society has suggested increased risk of mortality and mental impairment in older people from some medicines used in combination. The study relies on events from almost 20 years ago. How helpful is the study for current clinical practice? Hear Donald's interview by Annie Othen on BBC radio about the report.

Painkillers and risk of heart rhythm disorders

This week the British Medical Journal published a report by Schmidt and colleagues from Denmark, North Carolina and Boston, USA on "Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug use and risk of atrial fibrillation or flutter ..." This has lead to alarming print media and web headlines on risks of heart disease from these commonly used medicines. How worried should we be? On one level this is a general reminder that powerful medicines may have powerful harmful effects. Indeed previous studies have reported an increased risk of atrial fibrillation from NSAIDs and these medicines and the related COX-2 inhibitors have been implicated in increased risk of other types of heart disease. With that in mind, patients on these medicines who develop palpitations or other features of heart problems, including shortness of breath or ankle swelling, should consult their GP for advice. However there are some interesting aspects of the study showing the importance of looking critically behind headlines at the details of research reports. This includes considering potential sources of bias which may lead to undersestimation or exaggeration of effects; and being clear on the difference between absolute effect on risk (e.g. 17 vs. 10 per 1000) and relative risk (e.g. 70% increase). Here is a link to Donald talking about the study on BBC Radio