Staffordshire Police Dog ‘Alfie’ Hangs up His Harness

One of Staffordshire Police’s most successful employees has retired after eight years loyal service, dog and pup.

Police dog Alfie, a springer spaniel, joined the force in June 2006 aged 18 months. He was trained initially in the finding of illegal substances and firearms, their components and ammunition. He was licensed at the end of his eight week course and continued to be relicensed every year. After a few years he was also trained to sniff out cash in the form of Bank of England notes and Euros.

Alfie covered the whole of Staffordshire and also provided support to colleagues on the Central Motorway Policing Group (CMPG). He has also lent a paw to Cheshire and West Midlands Police on searches when they needed assistance. Alfie has taken part in many V festivals searching vehicles, tents and undertaken searches on Operation Nemesis, the force’s response to tackling Class A drug dealers. Over the past eight-and-a-half years he has been responsible for recovering millions of pounds in illegal drugs and cash, and contributing to the arrest of in excess of 400 people.

His handler, PC Julie Hargreaves said:

“Alfie has been THE BEST search trained dog that Staffordshire Police has ever, ever had… And, yes I am biased!

“He has been a brilliant search dog and has had a lot of success. In one search alone he recovered over a £1,000,000 in cannabis resin from a container stored on a container yard nr Burton; in another, £500,000 worth of heroin from a vehicle stopped by CMPG and this was after their officers had declared they couldn’t find anything and then £250,000 in cash again, from a vehicle on the motorway when CMPG officers couldn’t find anything. These are just three examples of great work done by him.

“When Alfie isn’t searching vehicles or buildings we also go out and help with Community Events such as the County Show, village shows, and other agency open days. He also goes into schools to teach the children how to stay safe, how to approach dogs and how to treat dogs and also to show them what he can do.

“I was really proud recently when he won Best in Show at Lyme Valley Park, Newcastle when he was there supporting Newcastle LPT at Mid Summer Mayhem. That’s not the full extent of his show career, though. PD Alfie has also been to Crufts for the past two years along with colleagues from West Midlands Police meeting and greeting members of the public as well as taking part in the police demonstrations in the main arena at Crufts.

“Alfie is being rehomed and will be living in the country. He will have a brother and sister English springer spaniel who he will be able to lead astray and enjoy his retirement with. He’ll also be able to join the Staffordshire Retired Police Dog Scheme which is a new organisation run by volunteers with the mission to improve the lives of our Retired Police Dogs.”

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Dear Society, Don’t Wait ‘Till It’s To Late

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#WorldStrokeDay – Women have a higher stroke mortality rate than men

strokeWomen have a higher stroke mortality rate than men. Six in ten strokes deaths occur in women, largely due to stroke occurring later in life in women, when strokes are more dangerous.

Many of the major stroke risk factors occur more frequently in women or are sex-specific to women. As a result, one in five women is at risk for stroke, as opposed to one in six men. Women over the age of 85 have the highest stroke rates of any other demographic.

Women have elevated stroke risk factors. Some stroke risk factors such as diabetes, migraines with visual aura, atrial fibrillation, depression, and hypertension occur more frequently in women, and many more stroke risk factors are sex-specific to women, such as pregnancy, preeclampsia, use of birth control pills (especially in the case of women with high blood pressure), hormone replacement after menopause, hormone changes, and gestational diabetes. As a result, one in five women is at risk for stroke, as opposed to one in six men.

Women tend to have worse stroke outcomes than men. They experience a more severe decline in cognitive function, an increased likelihood of institutionalization, and a higher risk of post-stroke depression. Women with stroke do not receive care that is comparably suitable to their health needs compared with men with stroke.

Women and stroke subtypes. Some stroke subtypes, such as cerebral vein thrombosis and subarachnoid hemorrhage, are much more common in women.

Women and depression. Women tend to have worse stroke outcomes than men as indicated by more severe decline in cognitive function, an increased likelihood of institutionalization, and a higher risk of post-stroke depression.

Women as caregivers. The burden of care giving falls predominantly on women, an important issue to women and stroke, as research shows that women caregivers of spouses who have suffered trauma such as stroke tend to report a decrease in mental health after becoming caregivers. Furthermore, women with depression have a higher stroke risk.

Women experience a decrease in mental health after becoming caregivers. Female caregivers of spouses who have suffered trauma such as stroke tend to report lower quality of mental health, such as increased depression.
Isolation and loneliness. Women are more likely to be living alone and widowed before stroke; they are more often institutionalized after stroke and have poorer recovery from stroke than men.

Women with stroke do not receive comparable care to men with stroke. Women tend to be treated less than men, despite responding equally well to treatments.

There is a gender gap in stroke education. Despite the fact that women tend to be more aware of be more aware of the stroke signs and treatments than men, women delay going to the hospital after stroke onset and are less likely to be aware of the 4.5 hour window for stroke treatment.

Stroke is largely preventable through lifestyle management, yet to beat stroke, women need sex-specific information, preventative practices, and acute and long-term care and support. Join us for the 2014 World Stroke Campaign to help us raise awareness of these issues by educating yourself on women’s stroke health, participating in World Stroke Day activities, and organizing your own stroke event. Stroke does not discriminate, stroke affects us all.

Cup of cocoa could give the elderly the memory of a ‘typical 30 or 40-year-old

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“Cup of cocoa could give the elderly the memory of a ‘typical 30 or 40-year-old’,” The Independent reports.

Before you race down to the supermarket to pick up a tub of chocolatey powder, you might want to pause to consider some facts that rather undermine this headline. The news is based on a small study that found a specially formulated cocoa-based drink high in “flavanols” made older people slightly faster, but no more accurate, in memory tests.

The research, which happened over a period of just three months, also looked at brain scans of the test subjects. It found increased activity in an area of the brain thought to be involved in cognition and memory – the dentate gyrus. It is difficult to gauge whether the modest improvements seen in testing would have a significant impact on a person’s daily life or functioning.

The prospect of halting or reversing dementia or age-related cognitive decline through simple changes in your diet is incredibly appealing. But while the results of this study suggest the particular product tested could improve cognition and memory, it certainly does not prove this.

The study was carried out by researchers from universities based in New York, and was funded by US National Institutes of Health grants, as well as what was described as an “unrestricted grant” from Mars Incorporated.

One of the study authors declared a financial conflict of interest as they were also employed by Mars. As Mars is one of the globe’s leading makers of chocolate products, this may represent a potential conflict of interest.

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Nature Neuroscience.

The majority of the media coverage portrayed this study as showing cocoa was effective at improving memory, which you might assume means a better and more accurate recall of things. In reality, the research was more limited and the improvements were only seen in the speed of memory tasks, not in the accuracy of tasks.

The most frivolous headlines came from The Independent, with “Cup of cocoa could give the elderly the memory of a ‘typical 30 or 40-year-old’,” and the Daily Express, with its front page headline claiming that, “new study proves cup of cocoa can boost the brain”. These statements are premature, potentially misleading and are not justified by this research alone.

The Independent’s unfortunate headline may simply have parroted a press release on the research from Columbia University. In the press release, one of the researchers was quoted as saying, “If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months that person on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old.”

The study did not recruit anyone aged 30 to 40 to test this directly, so it appears to be an assumption. The main study publication itself also did not make these bold claims – they were confined to the press release.

Larger long-term trials may show whether more rounded improvement in cognitive ability and memory are possible using high flavanol supplements. The study was a small randomised control trial testing the effect of a low- or high-cocoa diet on age-related memory decline in older adults.

The researchers state the function of a brain region called the dentate gyrus declines as people age, and is therefore considered to be a possible source of age-related memory decline.

This study first looked to find evidence that lower dentate gyrus function was indeed related to memory decline and, secondly, to test an intervention to stop the decline or reverse it.

A randomised control trial is one the best study designs to investigate whether dietary interventions such as this can influence cognitive ability.

The downside is that they tend to be very expensive to set up and run, so are often short and involve small numbers (as was the case with this study), which limits the applicability of the results to other populations.

The study involved asking volunteers aged 50 to 70, who were free from cognitive impairment, to follow a three-month lifestyle intervention containing diet and exercise elements.

Before and after the intervention, the research team compiled brain scans of the dentate gyrus region of the volunteers and tested their cognitive abilities to see if the diet, exercise or both elements together were influencing signs of age-related cognitive decline.

The study participants were free from illness, but were selected to be physically inactive and not to be above-average fitness. They were also excluded if they had a medical condition that didn’t allow them to undertake aerobic activity. Anyone who routinely took dietary or herbal supplements was also excluded from the study.

Alzheimers Request – Please love me ’till my life is gone

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Last Surviving Soldier of WW1 – Harry Patch

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HarryPatch

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to increase funding for dementia research

Walsall Social Services Offer No Dignity

The Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged a new drive by the UK to discover new drugs and treatment that could slow down the onset of dementia or even deliver a cure by 2025.

Speaking at a summit of world health and finance leaders in London, Mr Cameron said immediate action was needed to address a market failure on dementia research and drug development, which had seen global spending on dementia at five times below research on cancer, with only three drugs making it onto the market in the last 15 years.

The commitment comes as the new World Dementia Envoy, Dr Dennis Gillings, warns that if global leaders do not incentivise businesses to invest in research and bring in faster, cheaper clinical trials, they will not meet the ambition to find a cure or disease modifying therapy by 2025.

But much is already happening – with the UK doubling funding for dementia by 2015 and the Medical Research Council using the event to announce the creation of the world’s biggest study group for dementia, involving two million people, alongside a £100 million research pledge from Alzheimer’s Research UK – but that more is needed globally.

In the UK alone there are around 800,000 people living with dementia, worldwide that number is 40 million – and it is set to double every twenty years. So dementia now stands alongside cancer as one of the greatest enemies of humanity. Just as the world came together in the fight against HIV/AIDS, we need to free up regulation so that we can test ground-breaking new drugs, and examine whether the period for market exclusivity could be extended. Without this radical change, we won’t make progress in the fight against dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Research UK campaign will see £100 million investment across initiatives covering diagnosis, prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Pledges as part of ‘Defeat Dementia’ include the launch of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Stem Cell Research Centre, a network of Drug Discovery Institutes, worth £30m, housed in academic centres in the UK and beyond to allow promising breakthroughs to be translated towards the clinic and a £20m Global Clinical Development Fund dedicated to supporting phase I and II clinical trials to take potential new treatments into testing in people as soon as possible.

The Medical Research Council has already launched the world’s biggest research cohort for use in dementias research through a new PPP involving 6 biopharma companies, all of whom will be agreeing to commit financially to UKDP in partnership. This Public-Private Partnership ‘the UK Dementias Research Platform’ includes over £16m funding (of which £12m is from the MRC plus company contributions). After a limited exclusion period for consortium partners, all UKDP data will be made available to the global research community.

New research by Professor Martin Knapp at the London School of Economics suggests the annual cost of dementia in the UK is approximately £21 billion. The research also shows that a treatment delaying the onset of dementia by 36 months would save the UK as much as £5 billion a year.

Facts and Figures:

Number of people with dementia in the UK is 800,000 and numbers are expected to double within thirty years.

Current estimates indicate 44.4 million people worldwide are living with dementia but with the world’s populations ageing, the World Health Organisation estimates that this number will nearly double every 20 years, to an estimated 65.7 million in 2030, and 115.4 million in 2050.

The devastating human cost is echoed by its huge economic costs. The total estimated worldwide costs of dementia were US$604 billion in 2010. About 70 per cent of the costs occur in Western Europe and North America.

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