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NIHR Signal Boosting omega-3 fatty acid intake is unlikely to prevent type 2 diabetes
Increasing the intake of polyunsaturated fats in the diet with supplements of omega-3 fatty acids, for example, is unlikely to affect people’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, this review only looked at the effect of supplements on diabetes, not wider health. This large systematic review included 83 long-term trials comparing higher and lower intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and total polyunsaturated fats in healthy adults and those with existing diabetes. It found no...
NIHR Signal Herpes zoster vaccine reduces chances of shingles after stem cell transplants
A non-live vaccine against herpes zoster provides good, though partial protection for adults undergoing autologous (using the patient’s own) stem cell transplant for treatment of blood cancers. These people cannot use the usual live vaccine, because of their suppressed immune system. An industry-funded trial of the vaccine involved 1,846 patients from 28 countries, including the UK. Two doses of the vaccine resulted in a 68% reduction in cases of shingles over 21 months of follow-up. Shin...
NIHR Signal Significant risk of another thrombosis remains if anticoagulation is stopped
Unprovoked venous thromboembolism (VTE), including deep vein thrombosis in the leg and pulmonary embolism, are clots within veins that occur spontaneously in people without risk factors and are treated with anticoagulant drugs. If those drugs are stopped after three months or more, the risk of another clot appears to be on average 10% in the first year, 16% by two years, 25% by five years and 36% by 10 years. This systematic review and meta-analysis of 18 studies included a total of 7,515 patie...
NIHR Signal Long-term macrolide antibiotics reduce risk of exacerbations of bronchiectasis
People with bronchiectasis (not caused by cystic fibrosis) who take long-term macrolide antibiotics are around 50% less likely to experience acute worsening of symptoms like cough and sputum production (an exacerbation) than people taking a placebo. Bronchiectasis guidelines only recommend preventative macrolide antibiotics in people with frequent exacerbations who do not carry a bacterium (Pseudomonas aeruginosa). This review pooled data from three trials in 341 patients where erythromycin or ...
NIHR Signal Clinicians prescribe antibiotics for childhood respiratory tract infection based on assessment, rather than parental expectation
Implied parental expectation of antibiotic prescription does not appear to affect clinician prescribing for childhood respiratory tract infection in primary care. Parents typically accept clinicians’ treatment recommendations based on symptoms and signs, with a minority seeking further home care advice. This NIHR-funded analysis of 56 videoed primary care consultations is the first such study to be carried out in the UK, covering diverse populations from both deprived and affluent neighbo...
NIHR Signal Short-term dual antiplatelet treatment may be best for most patients after receiving a drug-eluting stent
For patients who have had a drug-eluting stent inserted into the coronary arteries, there is no difference in mortality or cardiovascular outcomes between the standard 12-month dual antiplatelet therapy and shorter six-month courses. Longer courses above 12 months increased risk of bleeding and non-cardiac death compared with short courses. It has been debated whether longer treatment might decrease complications, but similarly, it is unclear if shorter treatment might be as effective while red...
NIHR Signal Early suppression of male hormones is better than delayed therapy for advanced prostate cancer on balance
Offering early hormone suppression therapy to men with advanced prostate cancer that is causing no symptoms improves outcomes compared with waiting until symptoms of cancer spread arise. Early treatment is associated with 23 to 57 fewer deaths per 1,000 men over five years, depending on the men’s baseline risk. However, this comes with an increased chance of some non-serious side effects. Hormone suppression works by lowering levels of the male sex hormones that fuel the cancer’s gr...
NIHR Signal ‘Last resort’ antipsychotic remains the gold standard for treatment-resistant schizophrenia
Among patients with schizophrenia that has not responded to other drugs, the antipsychotic drug clozapine cuts the chances of hospital admissions and drugdiscontinuation. Recent trials have questioned the superior efficacy of clozapine compared with other standard antipsychotic drugs. However, a review of real-world data from observational studies confirms its place as a drug that may work when others fail. Patients prescribed clozapine had better outcomes, despite having more severe illness. ...
NIHR Signal C-reactive protein testing in general practice safely reduces antibiotic use for COPD flare-ups
Use of a rapid C-reactive protein (CRP) blood test in general practice for people with a flare-up of COPD reduces the proportion who take antibiotics over the next month by about 20 percentage points compared with usual care alone. The reduction in antibiotic use does not lead to worse health, more visits to the doctor or greater need for antibiotics later on. Flare-ups of COPD can be caused by infections of the airways or environmental triggers, and cause about 115,000 admissions to hospital e...
NIHR Signal Length of steroid course for childhood nephrotic syndrome makes little difference to later recurrences
For children with a first presentation of nephrotic syndrome, an extended sixteen-week treatment regimen with prednisolone does not reduce the risk of relapse compared with the standard eight-week course. Most children will experience a relapse with either regimen, but the longer course may delay it by a month or so which may, in turn, reduce the resource use, such as emergency department visits, shorter admissions and less need to see the GP. This can also make the longer course cheaper overall...
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