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.


Breathing exercises improve asthma and can be learned by DVD

Breathing exercises taught by a physiotherapist in person or on DVD both improved the quality of life of adults with poorly controlled asthma to a small but similar extent. The DVD was the cheapest option, and it could lead to inexpensive internet delivery in the future. This NIHR-funded trial recruited 655 UK adults with poorly ...


Being overweight or obese is linked with heart disease even without other metabolic risk factors

People with certain metabolic risk factors who are obese are two and a half times as likely to develop heart disease as healthy people of normal weight. But those who are obese without these other risk factors still have a 28% increased risk of heart disease compared with healthy people of normal weight. This suggests ...


A commonly used treatment does not improve chronic low back pain

This trial found that destroying nerves that take pain signals to the brain using heat (radiofrequency denervation) did not improve pain, function or a sense of “recovery”. The treatment was used alongside exercise and was a variation of the technique commonly used in the UK. In this large study, it was compared to exercise alone. ...


Vaginal cleansing before caesarean delivery reduces risk of infections

Cleaning the vagina with an antiseptic solution before a caesarean delivery halves the risk of subsequent womb infection. This evidence applies mainly to women who are having a caesarean delivery when already in labour or if their waters have broken. Womb infections can occur up to six weeks after giving birth and are more common ...


Aspirin reduces a woman’s chance of developing pre-eclampsia in pregnancy

Giving low dose aspirin to high-risk women reduced their risk of pre-eclampsia before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Preterm pre-eclampsia developed in 1.6% of women given 150mg aspirin daily compared with 4.3% who took a placebo. Pre-eclampsia is a condition which can harm mother and baby. In the mother, it causes high blood pressure and protein ...


Terbinafine is probably first choice oral drug for fungal toenail infection

The oral antifungal drug terbinafine appears to be slightly better than alternative ‘azole’ drugs for treating fungal toenail infection. Fifty-eight percent of people had a normal nail appearance after a treatment course compared with 47% taking ‘azoles’. Both drug classes were more effective than placebo and had similar side effects. Current guidelines recommend terbinafine or ...


Multiple illnesses and end-of-life care drive high healthcare costs in old age

Ageing on its own does not drive healthcare costs. Instead, this research found that the increasing number of health conditions and age-related impairments along with the proximity to death are more strongly linked to healthcare costs than age alone. This UK study investigated healthcare costs in people over 80 years old. Costs increased to the ...


Talking therapy may relieve high levels of anxiety about health conditions

A specific talking therapy called ‘cognitive behavioural therapy for health anxiety’ may help people who are excessively worried about their health. Health anxiety reduced by a small, but meaningful amount, among the medical outpatients who were identified and treated. Delivered in one-hour sessions every two weeks, therapy lasted about four months. It was provided by ...


Long-term antibiotics likely to reduce risk of recurrent cellulitis

Antibiotics may reduce the risk of leg cellulitis by about two-thirds in adults who have had at least two previous episodes, but only while they take the antibiotics. There is limited evidence measuring the efficacy of other forms of prevention. A review of five studies showed that the risk of developing repeated cellulitis was reduced ...


Wider stakeholder involvement could overcome resistance to modernising healthcare services

Among principles that can help when decommissioning out-dated, unsafe or poor value services are clear leadership and transparency about the reason for change with patients, clinicians and local communities. Modernising healthcare often involves reducing, replacing and removing services. This is called decommissioning and the task varies with the local context. This NIHR-funded study reviewed previous ...

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