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NIHR Signal When is it best to start the Parkinson’s drug, levodopa?
Earlier treatment with levodopa provides symptomatic relief to those with symptoms but does not appear to slow Parkinson’s disease from progressing. Therefore, timing is best determined by symptoms. The treatment of Parkinson’s disease is complex. Levodopa is the main drug used to reduce tremors and muscle stiffness. Whether it modifies the course of the disease or becomes less effective over time is debated, and it can have side effects, so patients and clinicians sometimes prefer ...
NIHR Signal New insights into how ethnicity and culture affect maternal mental health
Ethnicity and culture can affect how and when women seek help for mental health problems before or after having a baby. Many women avoid seeking help because they feel services are not sensitive to their beliefs. Services should ensure all women, regardless of background, can access the support they need during and after pregnancy. This mixed methods systematic review of UK evidence found that many women are not aware of the help available to them, and those that are aware often view it negativ...
NIHR Signal Getting hospital patients up and moving shortens stay and improves fitness
Interventions to encourage patients admitted to hospital for medical problems to get out of bed and walk around increases their mobility, without increasing their risk of falls. Older inpatients frequently spend much of their time in bed, which risks a loss of physical condition and muscle tone. This can make it harder for them to manage independently at home, and may contribute to delayed discharge. A review summarised thirteen trials from the UK, Europe and Australia, involving 2,703 adults ...
NIHR Signal Switching to oral antibiotics early for bone and joint infections gave similar results to continuing intravenous therapy
For adults with bone or joint infection, many of whom had metal implants, beginning six weeks of oral antibiotics within seven days of intravenous treatment, was no worse than a regimen delivered wholly intravenously (IV). After one year, around 14% of both groups still had an infection, showing the difficulty of treatment, irrespective of the route of administration. Although current practice suggests antibiotics should be given IV for bone and joint infections, for at least six weeks, this la...
NIHR Signal Keyhole surgery may be better than physiotherapy for hip impingement
Adults with painful restriction of movement of their hip had greater improvements in their symptoms after arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) than those who had physiotherapy. This NIHR-funded study included 222 people with hip pain and limited movement due to femoro-acetabular (hip) impingement but without a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Their average age was 36 years. Half of the people who had surgery had significant benefit compared with a third of those having physiotherapy. NICE has recommended...
NIHR Signal Are track and trigger systems linked to rates of in-hospital cardiac arrest?
Use of the National Early Warning Score (NEWS) to monitor adults in hospital is associated with reduced risk of having a cardiac arrest while in hospital. Using an electronic rather than paper-based system is also linked to reduced risk. Many patients who die from a cardiac arrest while in hospital show signs of deterioration beforehand that aren’t identified or acted upon. Several interventions aimed at reducing these avoidable deaths have been introduced in the NHS. These includeNEWS, a...
NIHR Signal Communication problems are top of patients’ concerns about hospital care
Patients have different concerns from clinicians when asked about problems with their care, and may identify preventable safety issues. When trained volunteers surveyed 2,471 patients from three NHS Trusts in England, 23% of patients identified concerns about their care. The biggest category of concerns related to communication, with staffing issues and ward environment the next most common and safety issues. Although the majority of safety issues were categorised as negligible or minor, they w...
NIHR Signal E-cigarettes helped more smokers quit than nicotine replacement therapy
Smokers who use NHS stop smoking services appear almost twice as likely to be successful for a year if they use e-cigarettes than if they use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. In a trial of 866 smokers who used NHS stop smoking services, 18% of those assigned to e-cigarettes were abstinent 12 months from their quit date, compared to 9.9% of those assigned to NRT. Everyone in the study was also offered four weeks of one-to-one behavioural support from a clinician. Of those who had suc...
NIHR Signal Does an antibacterial milk protein reduce infection in premature babies?
Lactoferrin, a protein found in human and cows milk, does not appear to protect premature infants from late-onset infections. When given to babies born before 32 weeks, their risk of acquiring infections, such as sepsis, was virtually the same as those in the control group, about 30%. Late-onset infections, those occurring 72 hours or more after birth, are a significant cause of illness and even death in newborns. Premature babies are particularly vulnerable. This very large UK based NIHR funde...
NIHR Signal One gram a day of omega-3 supplements does not reduce the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease
A trial of omega-3 fatty acid supplements showed they have little or no effect on the risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease in the general population. The finding contradicts the widespread belief that these supplements at usual doses protect the heart. A large trial of 25,871 men and women in the United States compared the impact of taking about 1g a day of omega-3 fatty acid supplements with placebo on major cardiovascular events and invasive cancer. The results are consistent with a recen...
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