GPs told to check every patient’s risk of coronavirus to reduce hospitalisation

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Family doctors will also be told to prescribe lifestyle solutions to reduce a patient’s risk of the disease if they are deemed to be under particular threat of complications or death from the virus. The online talk, chaired by Dr Jane Wilcock, clinical advisor to the Royal College of General Practitioners, will be delivered next Saturday to over 200 GP’s as part of new post-pandemic training.

It follows new research that shows people who have conditions commonly linked with heart disease also have a dramatically increased risk of death and hospitalisation from Covid-19. These conditions – or markers – include waist circumference, diabetes – even in its early stages – high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

This study, carried out at Tulane Medical Centre and University Medical Centre, New Orleans, America, examined 287 patients and compared them with patients without the conditions.

The study, published last week in the journal Diabetes Care, found people who had three or more of these conditions were three and a half times more likely to die from Covid-19 than those who did not have them.

Those with the conditions were also five times more likely to be admitted to intensive care, need a ventilator or develop deadly breathing problems. It did not matter whether the patient was young or old.

The speech will be given by consultant heart specialist Dr Aseem Malhotra on the who has recently released a a book on how to improve immunity in the wake of the pandemic – The 21 Day Immunity Plan.

Dr Malhotra said: “We now know more about this virus and those people who are most at risk. It is very clear having these conditions that affect the heart can dramatically increase your risk of dying or from complications from coronavirus.

“GPs need to now routinely assess each patient and then they can help them. The good news is that these conditions can be reversed within weeks of changing diet and lifestyle and GP’s need to help people do this.”

Dr Malhotra, founder of the pressure group Action on Sugar and author of the Pioppi Diet, which advocates a Mediterranean-style regime for health and fitness, said thousands of lives have been unnecessarily lost to the coronavirus pandemic because so many Britons are living an unhealthy lifestyle which he said is linked to processed food and excess weight.

Earlier this year Boris Johnson launched a new drive to tackle obesity as part of the fight against coronavirus. This advocated increased exercise as key.

However Dr Malhotra said poor diet is the key to understanding the problem and this should be at the top of the agenda for GP’s trying to help patients.

He said: “The big issue which has been ignored for a very long time is not just obesity but excess body fat and this is linked to junk food.

“Poor diet is responsible for 11 million deaths globally this is indirectly and directly linked to more disease and deaths than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol combined.

“And if we didn’t have this problem, thousands of people would not have perished unnecessarily because of the virus.”

During the talk Dr Malhotra will give GPs a guide on specific measures that all GP’s should be tracking and acting upon in all patients with a lifestyle prescription for reversing problems.

He added: “Obesity is just the tip of a diet-related disease iceberg in this country. GP’s need to be empowered to prescribe very specific lifestyle interventions to patients which can rapidly improve their health and their resilience into fighting many infections including coronavirus.”

The talk has been organised by the UK based medical training academy for GP’s, Arlington British Medical Academy.  

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