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NIHR Signal Placental growth factor testing can speed up diagnosis of pre-eclampsia
Measuring the level of placental growth factor (PlGF) in women with suspected pre-eclampsia helps to reduce the time to diagnose pre-eclampsia from 4 days to 2 days. PlGF testing is also associated with fewer adverse outcomes for mothers. In this NIHR-funded trial, the test results were used alongside the NICE clinical management algorithm to help clinicians make a diagnosis. Pre-eclampsia can lead to serious complications for mothers and babies. Women with suspected pre-eclampsia require furt...
NIHR Signal Providing pressurised air through a mask may improve outcomes for people with deteriorating heart failure
Non-invasive positive pressure ventilation may help people with rapidly deteriorating heart failure who become short of breath due to fluid build-up in the lungs. For people not requiring immediate mechanical ventilation using an endotracheal tube, this approach may reduce the risk of death in hospital and the need for intubation. This review evaluated 24 trials of 2,664 adults comparing a group who received air under pressure through a mask, to a group receiving standard medical care. These ty...
NIHR Signal Are track and trigger systems linked to rates of in-hospital cardiac arrest?
Use of the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) to monitor adults in hospital is associated with reduced risk of having a cardiac arrest while in hospital. Using an electronic rather than paper-based system is also linked to reduced risk. Many patients who die from a cardiac arrest while in hospital show signs of deterioration beforehand that aren’t identified or acted upon. Several interventions aimed at reducing these avoidable deaths have been introduced in the NHS. These includeNEWS, a...
NIHR Signal One gram a day of omega-3 supplements does not reduce the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease
A trial of omega-3 fatty acid supplements showed they have little or no effect on the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease in the general population. The finding contradicts the widespread belief that these supplements at usual doses protect the heart. A large trial of 25,871 men and women in the United States compared the impact of taking about 1g a day of omega-3 fatty acid supplements with placebo on major cardiovascular events and invasive cancer. The results are consistent with a recen...
NIHR Signal Prolonging anticoagulant treatment after abdominal cancer surgery reduces clot risk
People who have low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) for between two to four weeks after abdominal or pelvic surgery, especially for cancer, have fewer blood clots in their large veins or lungs. In this review of seven trials, five per cent of people receiving extended treatment experienced a clot compared with 13% who received LMWH only while in hospital. There was no difference in bleeding complications. The optimal duration of treatment following abdominal surgery is uncertain, balancing blee...
NIHR Signal A high omega-6 fatty acid diet is unlikely to prevent cardiovascular disease or deaths
Diets or supplements that aim to increase omega-6 fatty acids have no clear effect on the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks or stroke, overall deaths or deaths from cardiovascular disease. Omega-6 fatty acids are poly-unsaturated oils largely derived from seeds and nuts such as sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. The results of this Cochrane review can be looked at alongside another recent Cochrane review, which found no benefits of fish oil in omega-...
NIHR Signal New strategies for maintaining blood supplies from donations may be cost-effective
Opening blood donation centres on weekday evenings and at weekends is a cost-effective way of increasing the blood supply used by hospitals in the UK. Allowing donors to give blood more often could increase supplies in the short term, but it isn’t clear if it would be cost-effective in the long-term. This NIHR-funded modelling study used data from a recent large randomised trial in the UK that investigated the safety of donating blood more frequently than current guidance allows. This was...
NIHR Signal Warfarin and newer anticoagulants equally effective for long-term treatment of blood clots
Warfarin and newer anticoagulants work equally well to prevent blood clots in extended treatment after venous thromboembolism. One clot is prevented for every 15 people receiving either anticoagulant. Aspirin is ineffective. Following venous thromboembolism – a blood clot in the deep leg veins (deep vein thrombosis) or lungs (pulmonary embolism) – anticoagulant treatment is given for three months, as standard. Prolonged treatment may be given for patients at high risk of recurrence....
NIHR Signal Premature babies have fewer complications if a lower platelet count is accepted
Fewer premature babies die or have major bleeding if platelet transfusions are withheld until platelet numbers drop to a lower level. At 28 days, death or new major bleeding occurred in 19% of neonates transfused when they had less than 25,000/mm3 platelets compared to 26% of neonates transfused when they had less than 50,000/mm3 platelets. This trial included 660 premature babies with low platelet counts. The results suggest that in the absence of actual bleeding, platelet transfusions may be...
NIHR Signal Lifestyle changes may be more important than drugs for mild hypertension
Consideration of wider risk factors may be important when treating adults with low-risk mild hypertension (raised blood pressure). A large NIHR-funded UK study compared rates of mortality and risk of cardiovascular disease between patients who received antihypertensive treatment and those who did not. There was an increased risk of adverse effects, like low blood pressure. It found no evidence to support starting drug treatment for adults of low-cardiovascular risk with mild hypertension. This...
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