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NIHR Signal Combining mirtazapine with other antidepressants is not effective for treatment-resistant depression
Adding mirtazapine to first-line antidepressants for adults with treatment-resistant depression does not improve symptoms when compared with placebo (dummy pills). People taking mirtazapine are more likely to experience side effects, and stop taking their treatment. This NIHR-funded trial took place in 106 general practices in England, recruiting 480 adults with mild to severe depression. All participants had been taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin-noradrenaline r...
NIHR Signal Insulin pumps offer little value over multiple injections for children at the onset of diabetes
Young people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes achieve similar blood glucose control by 12 months if they are treated with multiple daily insulin injections or continuously via an insulin pump. Adverse events are rare and occurat similar rates. Pumps are more expensive with no clear benefit to quality of life. Both regimens are used in the management of type 1 diabetes, and the number of children using insulin pumps is rising. This NIHR-funded trial suggests that at an additional cost of &po...
NIHR Signal MRI scan does not help to find the cause of pelvic pain in women
MRI scans are not sufficiently accurate to find the cause of chronic pelvic pain in women and should not replace laparoscopy (keyhole surgery), which can be used for diagnosis and often treatment. MRI only correctly ruled out a gynaecological condition in half of women judged to have no obvious cause and missed half of women who did have a treatable gynaecological condition. Pinpointing the origin of chronic pelvic pain is often difficult due to the number of possible causes. If initial tests a...
NIHR Signal No benefit from monitoring antiepileptic drug levels in pregnancy
Regular monitoring of antiepileptic drug levels in pregnant women with epilepsy does not improve seizure control compared with clinical features-based monitoring. This NIHR-funded study was conducted across 50 UK hospitals and is the largest randomised trial in pregnant women with epilepsy. Just over 260 pregnant women with unstable antiepileptic drug levels were assigned to ongoing monthly blood checks or clinical features monitoring. There were no differences in seizures or other pregnancy ou...
NIHR Signal Endovascular aortic repair (EVAR) surgery more beneficial for ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms than open repair
EVAR surgery to repair a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm had a slightly better survival rate after three years than open repair surgery. The survival benefit in this trial wasn’t apparent 30 days after surgery, but those having EVAR did recover more quickly and went home sooner. This NIHR-funded study also found that EVAR is likely to be more cost-effective. An abdominal aortic aneurysm is a swelling in the main artery that runs from the heart through the abdomen. If it bursts, there i...
NIHR Signal Daily low-dose antibiotics halve urinary tract infections in people who self-catheterise
People who perform clean intermittent self-catheterisation can reduce symptomatic urinary tract infections from two per year to one by taking daily low-dose antibiotics. This NIHR-funded trial randomised 404 adults in the UK who perform the procedure for a variety of reasons to either daily oral low-dose antibiotics or no prophylaxis. All had a recent history of urinary tract infection. Although prophylactic antibiotics halved infection rates, it increased antimicrobial resistance compared wit...
NIHR Signal Lamotrigine is not effective for the treatment of borderline personality disorder
Lamotrigine, a mood-stabilising drug, is not clinically effective for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. Over one year follow up, this NIHR-funded trial did not find a difference between lamotrigine and placebo for borderline personality disorder-related symptoms and behavioural problems, depressive symptoms, self-harm, social functioning or quality of life outcomes. Borderline personality disorder is a severe mental health disorder characterised by rapid and distressing fluctuat...
NIHR Signal Uncertain benefits of BNP blood tests to monitor heart failure treatment
In specialist clinics, using B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) blood levels to guide treatment in people with chronic heart failure shows promise but did not improve survival for all groups. In this review, the benefit was only seen in patients aged less than 75, who survived an extra 1.5 years on average, and possibly those with poor heart function (reduced ejection fraction). However, there was a reduction in hospital admissions for heart failure for everyone. BNP is a hormone released from th...
NIHR Signal A primary care intervention helps older people with depression
Enhanced case management (also called collaborative care) added to primary care reduced symptoms in people with clinical depression, compared with usual primary care. The benefit was similar to other depression treatments. However, the small benefit over usual care was not sustained to 12 months. This NIHR-funded UK trial was carried out among nearly 500 adults aged at least 65 years. Primary care mental health practitioners delivered six sessions to encourage activity and social contact (five ...
NIHR Signal Single urine samples are just as good as 24-hour collections for diagnosing pre-eclampsia
The urine spot albumin-creatinine ratio (which is done on a single, on-the-spot sample) reliably identified 99% of pregnant women with high blood pressure who went on to develop severe pre-eclampsia. The spot protein-creatinine ratio, as currently recommended by NICE, was slightly less sensitive identifying over 90% of women. Both spot tests were good value for money. Nearly 1,000 women, suspected of having pre-eclampsia, took part in this NIHR-funded study, in 36 UK obstetric units. They had h...
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