I've been told I have high blood pressure.

What is the cause of this?

Despite the fact that high blood pressure has been recognised as a disease for many years it is fair to say that in the vast majority of sufferers there is no one definitive cause behind it. There can be a component that is inherited, smoking and obesity are both known to be key factors as well as dietary aspects. As most readers will know, salt has been both blamed as a cause then apparently cleared, but it is again back in the dock!

There is no doubt however that by stopping smoking, watching your weight, eating a healthy balanced diet low in salt and taking reasonable exercise these things all have a positive effect.

There are a number of illnesses that specifically produce high blood pressure as a response to the active disease process. One of the most common of these is kidney disease where the functioning of the kidneys is impaired. Some medicines can increase blood pressure in some patients, hence the reason your GP may wish to check your blood pressure occasionally.

I'm going into hospital for an operation and have to stay for about four days. Will I be allowed to use my mobile phone there?

It depends on the hospital's policy on use of mobile phones. You can probably use your mobile phone in some areas of the hospital to make calls or send text messages.

Communication with family and friends is important when someone is in hospital and the guidance will be there to safeguard patients' privacy and dignity and ensure that interference from mobile phones does not stop medical equipment from working properly.

Depending on your hospital's policy, areas where mobile phone use is allowed could include: the hospital entrance or reception communal areas such as cafés and lift lobbies and non-clinical areas on wards where direct medical care is not given.

If your phone has a camera, it's unlikely that you'll be allowed to take photographs in hospitals except under very specific circumstances, for example of parents with a newborn baby.



Slapped cheek virus is a virus that only affects humans. It is also known as Fifth disease because it is the fifth most common disease caused by a rash in children. It is caused by a virus called parvovirus B19.

It is thought that 60% of all adults in the UK have been infected with parvovirus B19 at some point.

The following symptoms may develop when you have slapped cheek syndrome: mild fever or flu-like symptoms, headache, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, tiredness and in a few children there may be nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.

To relieve any discomfort caused by the symptoms of slapped cheek syndrome, drink plenty of fluids.