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.


A hormone-releasing coil is best for relieving heavy periods

This Cochrane systematic review of trials found that a progesterone releasing coil device (mainly Mirena®) inserted in the womb was more effective at reducing heavy periods than taking oral tablets. The coil led to more minor side effects, but improved quality of life, compared with tablets. Surgical removal of the womb, hysterectomy, was more effective ...


Common migraine prevention treatments found to be equally effective

This review found that the main drugs used for preventing migraine were all effective compared with placebo or dummy treatment. The results were less clear cut when comparing drugs directly against each other as there were fewer trials. This review highlights the range of drugs used to prevent migraines, reflecting the number of possible treatments ...


Bisphosphonates help prevent fractures in men with low bone density

This systematic review found that bisphosphonate drugs, taken for at least six months, improved bone density and lowered fracture risk in men with low bone density, compared with a placebo or supplements (calcium alone or with vitamin D). Bisphosphonates have been extensively researched for treating women with low bone density after the menopause, but this ...


Giving obese pregnant women metformin had no effect on baby’s weight at birth

A large trial found that giving obese pregnant women the diabetes drug, metformin, to prevent heavier babies, had no effect compared with an inactive dummy tablet. The trial was funded by the NIHR and Medical Research Council, and was the first to give metformin, a diabetes drug that is safe in pregnancy, to pregnant women ...


Schools can provide valuable help for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

This series of NIHR-funded systematic reviews found that some things schools do (interventions) can help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These were grouped into 15 main approaches including reward and punishment, skills training and self-management, creative-based therapies, such as music therapy, and structured physical activity. These reviews covered different strategies to change behaviour other ...


Disc replacement is better than fusion in people needing surgery for neck disc disease

As in the back, discs in the neck can degenerate and cause pain and nerve damage from pressure by the disc, in this case for cervical nerves. In severe cases, where nerves are affected surgery is performed to relieve pain and numbness. This systematic review of trials found that replacing a damaged disc with an artificial substitute ...


A single dose of diclofenac potassium is more effective for postoperative pain than the more commonly used diclofenac sodium

This Cochrane systematic review found that the same single dose of fast-acting diclofenac potassium tablets is more effective for moderate to severe short-term postoperative pain relief than coated diclofenac sodium tablets. Both versions were compared with a placebo, rather than each other. On average, only two people need to be treated with a single dose ...


Drug therapy after a coronary stent should be tailored to patient’s risk profile

This systematic review tried to find the optimal duration of dual antiplatelet therapy, usually aspirin and clopidogrel, after coronary stenting. Compared to standard antiplatelet therapy for 12 months, shorter treatment had little impact on stent thrombosis. Treatment for longer than 12 months did, however, reduce thrombosis by 67% (about 7 events per 1000 people).  Major ...


Case management might not improve health outcomes or reduce costs

This systematic review of trials found that case management in primary care of people at risk of unplanned hospital admission did not improve health outcomes, mortality, use of healthcare services, or save money. Patient satisfaction improved, but only a little. Case management was defined as the identification, assessment and care-coordination of people at risk of ...


Blowing up a balloon with the nose helps restore hearing in children with glue ear

The use of a simple nasal balloon can help restore hearing in children aged 4 to 11 with glue ear. After 3 months, this non-surgical treatment restored normal hearing to 49.6% of children with glue ear compared with 38.3% receiving usual care. Children inflate the balloon by blowing it up with their noses rather than their ...

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