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NIHR Signal Levetiracetam is a useful alternative to phenytoin in stopping prolonged epileptic seizures in children
Levetiracetam is as effective as phenytoin at stopping prolonged epileptic seizures in children. In this trial, levetiracetam stopped 70% of children convulsing compared with 64% for phenytoin within 35 to 45 minutes. Adverse events were similar. This combined with the fact levetiracetam may be easier to administer safely make it an important option. Most epileptic seizures stop by themselves within a few minutes, but sometimes they continue for much longer. If this happens emergency treatment ...
NIHR Signal National quality improvement programmes need time and resources to have an impact
A large trial assessing the effectiveness of a UK-wide quality improvement programme did not show any difference in patient outcomes. However, the likely reasons for this were carefully investigated and provide some useful insights on implementation. Several (37) quality improvement components were included in the ambitious package designed to reduce variation in care and improve outcomes for adults undergoing emergency abdominal surgery. There was no difference in survival at 30 days, length o...
NIHR Signal More than 80% of total knee replacements can last for 25 years
Large data sets from national registries and case series show that about 82% of total knee replacements and 70% of partial (unicompartmental) knee replacements last for 25 years. This NIHR-funded review of that data is the first to demonstrate longer-term effectiveness of these procedures. This means that the operation, which aims to relieve pain for osteoarthritis, may not need to be delayed to reduce the chance of a patient needing further surgery at a later date. It is an encouraging finding...
NIHR Signal Various drugs are effective and well-tolerated for generalised anxiety disorder
There are various drugs options for the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder, from different medication classes. This study found that most evidence was available for the serotonin and noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitors (SNRI) duloxetine and venlafaxine, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) escitalopram, and the anti-epileptic pregabalin. All appear well-tolerated and reduce symptoms compared with placebo. The SSRI sertraline, commonly used in practice, was equally effective an...
NIHR Signal A care package to increase awareness of fetal movements does not reduce risk of stillbirth
A care package to increase awareness of fetal movements, and allow identification and delivery of high-risk babies, did not reduce the risk of stillbirth. The incidence of stillbirth varies across high-income countries suggesting that many could be preventable. The AFFIRM trial is the largest to date to assess whether interventions that increase awareness of fetal movements can reduce risk of stillbirth. The trial involved 33 hospitals in the UK and Ireland who implemented the care package at ...
NIHR Signal The benefits of commonly used blood pressure and cholesterol lowering treatment can last 16 years
Fewer deaths from stroke had occurred in people who had high blood pressure treated with amlodipine, a calcium-channel blocker, compared to atenolol, 10 years after the end of a large trial. People with high blood pressure who took statins were less likely to die from cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease or stroke than those taking a placebo. This study followed over 7,000 UK patients who had taken part in a clinical trial of blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering treatments between ...
NIHR Signal The best dose of aspirin for cardiovascular protection may depend on body weight
Low dose aspirin only appears to be effective at preventing stroke or heart attack for people weighing less than 70kg, while higher doses are better for people who weigh over 70kg. Researchers analysed data from 13 trials of aspirin for primary or secondary prevention of cardiovascular events, totalling over 115,000 participants. They found that 75 to 100mg aspirin only benefitted people who weighed less than 70kg, while only those who weighed 70kg or more benefited from doses of 325mg or above...
NIHR Signal Telemedicine programme can prolong life for heart failure patients
A comprehensive programme of daily telemedicine monitoring and 24-hour access to a physician-led hotline can reduce the number of deaths and the time spent in hospital, among patients with heart failure. A year-long study of 1,571 patients who had been admitted to hospital with heart failure within the past 12 months found that those assigned to daily telemonitoring, monthly health education and telephone support from specialist staff, were 30% less likely to die than those assigned to usual ca...
NIHR Signal Peer support may reduce readmissions following mental health crises
People discharged from mental health crisis teams are less likely to re-enter acute services within a year if they receive self-management support. The support in this study was provided by a peer worker, someone with experience of mental illness. The peer worker used a workbook to provide information and talk through recovery goals. The study compared this with those who had received the workbook by post. Participating adults had a range of mental illnesses and had been managed by six crisis r...
NIHR Signal Oral steroids do not help hearing for children with glue ear
Oral steroids do not improve hearing, symptoms, or quality of life in children with glue ear. This NIHR-funded trial compared oral steroids with placebo for 389 children with glue ear, also called otitis media with effusion, and found no significant effect on those outcomes. Glue ear is when the middle ear fills with fluid, often following an ear or respiratory infection. The fluid makes hearing more difficult. It usually resolves within three months without treatment, but if it lasts longer, t...
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