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AN unknown killer is lurking in our stomachs - but one "hidden hero" of the NHS is determined to defeat it.

Dr Kamran Rostami's pioneering work on hospital nutrition has seen him dubbed the Jamie Oliver of the NHS.

Now he is setting his sights on coeliac disease which damages the small intestine, interfering with the absorption of nutrients.

The little-known condition is becoming a problem of such epidemic proportions that one in every 100 people now suffers from it.

Dr Rostami said: "At least 500,000 people do not even know they have this condition which, with complications, can be as serious as type 1 diabetes and even cancer.

"It really is something people should be made aware of, especially if they are over 40.

"The problem is that classic symptoms of the condition such as diarrhoea, weight loss and anaemia can be confused with so many others that it is often missed by doctors.

"There are also a wide range of other symptoms that seem completely unrelated at first, so it's a very difficult situation for medical experts to work out."

Dr Rostami's work on nutrition led to him being crowned a "hidden hero" of the NHS.

Although a specialist in gastroenter-ology, he is a medical all-rounder: one day dealing with emergency admissions and the next playing a leading role in medical research.

He was previously based at Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield but now works at Gloucestershire Royal Infirmary.

Like most colleagues, his hospital duties entail the routine but vital procedures that keep the NHS functioning, including overseeing ward rounds and supervising acute admissions.

However, one of his main duties is to plan the nutritional support and route of feeding for patients at risk, including those recovering from operations, liver disease and cancer.

Dr Rostami said: "It wasn't exactly as glamorous or as fragrant as Jamie Oliver's latest efforts, but I like to think that my Nutrition Team improved the quality of life for vulnerable patients.

"Our main duty was simple but important - ensuring that patients got the right nutrients in the right proportions.

"I'm very proud I was named a hidden hero of the NHS - it's always really nice to be recognised for the work you do.

"Nutrition is key - so many patients have severely reduced immune systems. I realised we needed to improve the way in which we were looking after our patients' diet."

The country's first Coeliac Disease Awareness Week is planned for May 16 to 20. Dr Rostami welcomed the initiative, saying: "As an expert on coeliac disease I am very worried about its lack of profile in the media.

"I would like to see a national screening test for this disease brought in in the near future, especially because it can cause so many complications.

"If left unchecked it is an incredibly concerning disease."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 19, 2006
Previous Article:GIVE A CHILD HEALTH.

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