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NIHR Signal Treating vitamin D deficiency may reduce exacerbations of COPD
Vitamin D supplements halve the number of exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in people with low levels of the vitamin, from two per year to one per year. The supplements do not affect exacerbations of COPD in people who are not deficient. This NIHR-funded review is the first to pool individual-level data from randomly controlled trials to see whether taking vitamin D can help reduce exacerbations. People with moderate to severe COPD may be at risk of low vitamin D le...
NIHR Signal London’s Low Emission Zone has not been shown to improve children’s respiratory health
The Low Emission Zone covering much of Greater London was introduced between 2008 and 2012 to improve air quality. Some measures of air pollution have slightly reduced over that time, but measures of children’s respiratory health and lung development have not significantly improved. This NIHR funded study assessed over 2,000 primary school children during the first five years of the Low Emission Zone, during which charges were phased in for several categories of commercial diesel vehicles...
NIHR Signal Reviewing inhaler technique for older people with COPD can improve disease control
Educating older adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma about the correct way to use their inhalers, as part of disease management, can reduce their risk of exacerbations. Either a demonstration using a placebo inhaler or written information appears effective for this. This review pooled the results of four trials, with a total of 1,225 participants. It found that a pharmacist or nurse intervention to improve inhaler technique for older adults can reduce exacerbations. Peopl...
NIHR Signal Adding low dose theophylline to inhaled corticosteroids does not reduce COPD exacerbations
Taking low-dose theophylline tablets in addition to inhaled corticosteroids did not significantly reduce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease flare-ups (exacerbations). This NIHR funded study found that people taking the combination and those taking an inhaled steroid had the same number of exacerbations - just over two per year. People who experience frequent exacerbations are often prescribed steroid inhalers to reduce inflammation of the airways. Theophylline also helps open up the airways,...
NIHR Signal People with COPD exacerbations prefer early discharge then treatment at home
People with flare-ups of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) prefer to be managed at home rather than in hospital. Hospital stay was on average four days shorter when people were discharged early to the hospital at home scheme, and there was no noticeable increase in readmissions in this group. This NIHR-funded trial aimed to establish the costs and outcomes of hospital at home compared with staying in hospital for treatment. The findings support current guidance that hospital at home...
NIHR Signal New airway device as good as tracheal tube insertion for out-of-hospital resuscitation
A supraglottic airway device works as well as a tracheal tube for paramedics resuscitating patients in cardiac arrest and is simpler to use. People who have stopped breathing need to get air into their lungs urgently. Usually, a tube is placed through the vocal cords into their trachea to secure a reliable airway, but correct placement needs skill and practice and can interrupt chest compressions during resuscitation. More recently, paramedics have used a supraglottic airway device, placed in t...
NIHR Signal Steroids rapidly reduce children’s croup symptoms and shorten hospital stays
Corticosteroids reduce symptoms of croup in children within two hours and continue to do so for at least 24 hours. They also cut the amount of time children spend in hospital by 15 hours and reduce return visits or readmissions from about 20% to 10%. This Cochrane review assessed the effectiveness of corticosteroids such as dexamethasone and budesonide compared with placebo. It updates a previous review which concluded that corticosteroids reduce symptoms of croup at six hours. The review also...
NIHR Signal Tools for GPs can help reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescribing
Interventions to reduce inappropriate antibiotic prescribing for upper respiratory tract infections are most effective when they provide a negotiation tool to support patient interaction. These interventions are more likely to be rejected if they are perceived as interfering with individual clinical judgment or damaging patient relationships. Upper respiratory tract infections often resolve themselves within a few days, without the need for antibiotics, yet antibiotics are often prescribed. Thi...
NIHR Signal High-flow oxygen therapy may have a role in treating infants with more severe bronchiolitis
A randomised controlled trial of 1,472 infants with bronchiolitis found that more children improved when started on high-flow oxygen therapy than with standard oxygen therapy. Those who failed to improve on standard therapy were switched to high flow oxygen. Most then improved - overall, similar numbers were transferred to intensive care. There was also no difference between the groups in the proportion of infants needing intubation, length of time on oxygen therapy or days spent in hospital. ...
NIHR Signal A reminder that too much oxygen increases mortality in acutely ill adults
In acutely ill adults, liberal use of oxygen supplementation is found to increase the risk of death compared with more conservative oxygen strategies. More liberal oxygen therapy increases patient mortality in hospital by about 11 deaths amongst every 1,000 people exposed. Deaths also increase after 30 days follow-up, without improving other important health outcomes, such as disability, infection or length of hospital stay. Oxygen is routinely used for acutely ill patients and is widely consid...
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