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.


Acupuncture shows promise for preventing episodic migraines

Acupuncture was about as effective as long term medication in reducing the number of migraines. There were fewer adverse events amongst people receiving acupuncture (16-17%) compared to drug treatment (34%). Migraines affect around one in seven people in the UK. Their unpleasant symptoms last between four and 72 hours and can impact on people’s ability ...


Flu vaccine reduces deaths for people with type 2 diabetes

Flu vaccination helps prevent some deaths, serious strokes, heart failure and pneumonia in people with type 2 diabetes. Vaccination is linked to less hospital admissions for these reasons, but there is no link to rates of admissions for heart attack. The results come from a reliable population-based study that looked back at the general practice ...


Simpler, cheaper therapy (behavioural activation) can be as good as CBT for treating depression

A simpler therapy called behavioural activation can be as effective at treating adults with depression as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Also, it is delivered more cheaply, by trained junior mental health workers. CBT is commonly provided to adults with depression and it is recommended by NICE as first- line treatment. However, it is complex to ...


Corticosteroid injections provide only short term relief for rotator cuff disorders

A corticosteroid steroid injection into the shoulder provides some short-term pain relief for adults with rotator cuff disorders. This review compared injection of corticosteroids (‘steroids’) with injection of local anaesthetic or placebo. The average improvement in pain relief at two months was calculated as moderate using standardised techniques. The effect wore off by three months. ...


Questionnaires directed at smokers improve detection of chronic lung disease in general practice

Practices using questionnaires to identify individuals at risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) increased the number of new cases found. In particular, posting questionnaires may be more effective than waiting for people to attend the GP surgery. Many people with COPD may dismiss or ignore symptoms such as chronic cough. Taking a more proactive ...


Surgery to remove the thymus gland improves weakness for people with myasthenia gravis

Having a thymectomy (surgery to remove the thymus gland) improves various measures of weakness and reduces the need for other treatment in people with myasthenia gravis. When combined with standard steroid treatment, surgery gives a meaningful, but small, improvement compared with steroids alone. Importantly it also reduced the requirement for steroids or immune suppressing drugs ...


A third of people with dementia have treatable vision problems

New data shows that around a third of people with dementia have serious vision problems, such as cataracts or short sightedness, more than the general population of that age. Levels are higher still for people with dementia in care homes – about half have vision problems. Yet this study showed that many of the people ...


Epidural anaesthesia helps return of bowel function after abdominal surgery

High quality evidence suggests that an epidural anaesthetic (with or without an opioid) promotes the return of gut function after abdominal surgery. This is when compared to an opioid based regimen, given either through an epidural or into the bloodstream. Epidural anaesthetic also gave a clinically meaningful reduction in pain. Evidence for other outcomes, including ...


Rhythm control drugs after catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation give short-term but not long term benefits

When treating atrial fibrillation, short-term use of rhythm control drugs after catheter ablation reduced the risk of abnormal heart rhythms in the three months after the procedure. They were of no benefit in preventing recurrence of atrial fibrillation in the longer term. Atrial fibrillation is a common abnormal heart rhythm that carries a high risk ...


Bone-targeting drugs improve quality of life, but not survival in prostate cancer that has spread to bone

The drug zoledronic acid delayed the onset of bone complications by two months in men with prostate cancer that had spread to the bone. Though it did not increase overall survival, it improved quality of life by reducing important complications such as fractures and spinal cord compression. The radioactive drug strontium-89 was also tested and ...

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