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NIHR Signal ‘Artificial pancreas’ improves glucose control in hospital patients with type 2 diabetes
Closed-loop insulin pumps, which continuously monitor blood glucose and administer insulin accordingly, can improve blood glucose control among patients with type 2 diabetes admitted to hospital for non-critical care. Those using the system spent about six hours longer in the target range, and this could hasten their recovery and reduce staff workload. The number of hospitalised patients with type 2 diabetes is increasing. Glucose control often worsens during illness. Closed-loop pumps have bee...
NIHR Signal Sodium thiosulfate reduces hearing loss in children treated with chemotherapy
Treatment with sodium thiosulfate alongside cisplatin chemotherapy can reduce hearing loss in children with a liver tumour called hepatoblastoma. The risk of hearing loss was reduced by 48% in children who had the combination treatment compared with those who had cisplatin only. This phase 3 trial involved 109 children with standard-risk hepatoblastoma and tested the addition of sodium thiosulfate six hours after cisplatin treatment. The additional drug caused few major side effects, and there ...
NIHR Signal Supporting families of those in intensive care improved family satisfaction but didn’t reduce family distress
A multicomponent support intervention for family members of patients in intensive care didn’t reduce their anxiety, depression or distress around the overall experience. However, it increased satisfaction with the quality of staff communication and delivery of care. Family members of critically unwell patients on intensive care often need to be involved in care decisions. Yet they may feel unsupported and bewildered in the process. This intervention, delivered in five US intensive care un...
NIHR Signal Financial incentives may help workers quit smoking
Financial incentives, when given alongside free smoking cessation aids, improved abstinence rates compared with free cessation aids or motivational information alone. This workplace-based US trial assigned 6,000 smokers, unselected for willingness to quit, to information only, free e-cigarettes, free nicotine replacement or drug therapy, or free cessation aids with a $600 reward in one of two ways. Quit rates at six months were very low though the substantial financial incentive increased the r...
NIHR Signal Two antiplatelet drugs may prevent further strokes but increase major bleeds
People experiencing a minor stroke or a transient ischaemic attack have a lower risk of further stroke within 90 days if given clopidogrel and aspirin, rather than aspirin alone. However, taking both drugs doubles the risk of bleeding over the same period. Current UK guidelines recommend using clopidogrel alone. In this major international trial of nearly 5,000 people, those who took the dual treatment had fewer heart attacks or strokes than those who took aspirin only, particularly in the fir...
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 Increasing inhaled steroids for short periods reduces asthma exacerbations
Taking four times the usual dose of inhaled corticosteroids for up to two weeks can modestly reduce the chance of asthma worsening. This NIHR-funded trial assessed increasing the inhaled corticosteroid dose compared with staying on the usual dose, as part of a self-management plan. Participants were adults and adolescents with uncontrolled asthma and had at least one exacerbation needing additional medical attention in the year before the trial. Quadrupling the inhaled corticosteroid dose when...
NIHR Signal Fish oil supplements are ineffective for treating dry eyes
Omega-3 fatty acids or ‘fish oil’ supplements are no more effective than inactive olive oil capsules for relieving dry eye disease. Some patients take fish oil supplements for this common problem, but this new evidence suggests that they consider alternatives. Dry eye disease is a common long-term inflammatory condition causing discomfort, and disturbances including blurred vision. Treatment of symptoms includes using artificial tears. Although guidelines recognise the lack of exist...
NIHR Signal Balanced electrolyte solutions give marginal benefit over saline for very ill patients
About 14% of critically ill patients receiving electrolyte-balanced crystalloids either developed kidney failure, needed kidney-replacement therapy or died compared with 15% receiving normal saline. This small but statistically significant benefit was only apparent when combining outcomes; there was no difference between fluids for the three individual outcomes analysed separately. A solution of 0.9% sodium chloride (normal saline) is the most commonly used intravenous (IV) fluid, but it can ca...
NIHR Signal Aspirin may be a follow-on option to prevent blood clots, starting five days after hip or knee surgery
In a recent trial, switching to low-dose aspirin was just as effective at preventing blood clots after joint replacement surgery as continuing the anti-clotting drug rivaroxaban. Six per 1,000 people taking aspirin experienced a blood clot, compared with seven per 1,000 taking rivaroxaban. Three to five per 1,000 patients experienced major bleeding with either drug. Rivaroxaban or similar drugs are usually prescribed for two or five weeks after knee or hip surgery, respectively, to reduce the r...
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