Medicines help smokers quit long term, finds Cochrane overview of reviews

Key message: Varenicline, nicotine replacement therapy and bupropion all improve smokers’ chances of quitting long term, with a low risk of harms

Today is World No Tobacco Day, which seems a great day for the publication of new Cochrane evidence on medicines to help people quit smoking. Three medicines are licensed for this purpose in Europe and the USA and recommended in many national guidelines: nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), bupropion and varenicline. Cytisine is licensed in Russia and some other countries and other medicines, such as nortriptyline, have been tested. A new overview of reviews from a team at the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group has brought together results from Cochrane reviews on the effectiveness of medicines for helping adults to quit smoking for at least six months and on harms associated with them. Continue reading

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Newer nebulisers cut treatment times for people with cystic fibrosis

Key message: Nebulisers don’t all perform the same. Some newer types such as adaptive aerosol delivery and vibrating mesh technology have advantages over conventional systems including significantly shorter treatment time

Nebulisers are devices that allow medicines to be breathed in as a mist. People with cystic fibrosis (CF) are amongst those living with chronic conditions who use them to take medicines which help control their symptoms. Taking medicines this way may take a few minutes or as much as forty minutes each time and nebulised treatment has been found to significantly add to the burden of treatment for people with CF. Continue reading

Screening for abnormal heart rhythms: can we protect more people from stroke?

It’s Action on Stroke Month here in the UK and the Stroke Association hope to raise awareness of stroke and particularly its emotional impact, through the many events taking place during May. They’ve also produced a really helpful guide to making information accessible for people with aphasia, which you can download from the link here. But what can be done to prevent people from having a stroke in the first place? Screening has moved in and out of favour for various conditions in recent years, but something that might be useful is to look for people with abnormal heart rhythms (atrial fibrilliation) that put them at higher risk of stroke and offer them treatment. Continue reading

Swimming and asthma – well tolerated and beneficial, finds new review

Key message: swimming training is well tolerated in children and teens with asthma and increases physical fitness and lung function.  However, it is not known whether this is better and/or safer than other types of physical activity.

World Asthma Day logo 2013We’re putting the spotlight on asthma today. It’s World Asthma Day and the Cochrane Airways Group has just published a new review on swimming training for asthma. World Asthma Day aims to spread the message “you can control your asthma” and this year activity organizers are being encouraged to complete the sentence “It’s time to…” So does this new review suggest that we could finish that sentence with “swim”? Continue reading

Evening primrose oil and borage oil no help for eczema

Key message: Oral evening primrose oil and borage oil are not effective treatments for eczema

Anyone who suffers from eczema, or is close to someone who has it, knows that this common skin condition can be a real misery. In the developed world it’s on the increase. Treatments can be very time-consuming and many people struggle to find effective relief from the itching and help for sore, weeping, cracked or bleeding skin. Some people use complementary therapies, including evening primrose oil (EPO) and borage oil (BO) taken by mouth, but to date it has been unclear whether these are effective and safe. Continue reading