The latest important research summarised

Short summaries of the latest health research presented in plain English to promote use of research by all members of society.


Early warning scores used in hospitals must be based on sound science

Early warning scores have been used in UK hospitals since the late 1990s to minimise harm to patients. They are designed to highlight deterioration of a patient’s health using measurements of temperature, heart rate, blood pressure and other easily-measured signs.  Research has shown that changes in these signs could mean patients are at increased risk ...


High rates of delirium, persistent fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder were common after severe infection in previous coronavirus outbreaks

Little is known about the mental health consequences of severe COVID-19 illness because it is caused by a new coronavirus. Previous outbreaks caused by other coronaviruses (severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, MERS) may provide insights into ongoing problems after recovery from severe illness.  Researchers looked at reports of psychiatric problems ...


Fluoxetine does not improve outcomes after stroke

Many people experience disability after a stroke, such as weakness in the arm or leg, or problems with language and communication. The antidepressant drug fluoxetine has been used to reduce disability following a stroke but it is unclear how effective it is. The first of three large-scale trials into the impact of fluoxetine in stroke ...


Cycling to work lowers risk of illness and death compared to driving

People who cycle to work are at lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death than those who drive. This is seen across all occupational groups and suggests that cycling to work could benefit people from all economic backgrounds. The UK government has advised against using public transport during the coronavirus pandemic. This could result ...


New tool for assessing the severity of type 2 diabetes could help personalise treatment and improve outcomes

A new severity scoring system for type 2 diabetes may be better at identifying patients at risk of declining health than the current commonly used blood test. The Diabetes Severity Score (DISSCO) is a computer algorithm that combines information routinely collected in primary care. Researchers found that a higher DISSCO score was linked to an ...


Lung health checks in supermarket car parks reach older smokers in deprived communities

Tests carried out on mobile units parked in supermarket car parks were a popular and effective way to check the lungs of at-risk current and former smokers in a study in Manchester.     Simple tests of lung function in these mobile units found more than a third of those screened had evidence of airflow obstruction. This ...


Bespoke shoes and insoles could prevent foot ulcers in people with diabetes

Shoes and insoles which are custom-made to relieve pressure on the foot could prevent ulcers in people with diabetes. Foot ulcers are a serious complication of the disease and can lead to amputation if they are not managed appropriately. Even a mild injury can cause a foot ulcer. Researchers wanted to identify design features of ...


Damage to kidneys and eyes may start before people are diagnosed with diabetes

One in two people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes already have damage to their eyes, kidneys or heart. That damage is more likely if they had problems with blood sugar control before being diagnosed. Diabetes causes damage to blood vessels, because of poorly-controlled levels of sugar in the blood. These damaged blood vessels can lead ...


Most people caring for relatives with dementia experience loneliness

Around two-thirds of family carers of people with dementia experience loneliness. Almost half are moderately lonely and a fifth are severely lonely, reports one of the first large scale studies to look at this issue. Carers who felt lonely tended to have lower wellbeing, smaller social networks, and more stress associated with caregiving. A poor-quality ...


Loneliness in people with dementia is linked to social isolation and depression

One-third of people with mild-to-moderate dementia experience loneliness. 30% are moderately lonely and 5% are severely lonely, reports one of the first major studies to look at the issue. These figures are comparable to the general population of older people. People with dementia who live alone, and who experience social isolation, depression and lower quality ...

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