Silver, napkins and some choice morsels of Cochrane evidence

Last week I gave you jellyfish, so don’t let it be said that I only go for the big health issues here! There’s a feast of new evidence in The Cochrane Library and this week, from an extensive menu, I’ve picked out a few tidbits on some more common health problems, plus some great dementia resources and a beautiful project that I want to highlight. Continue reading

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An evidence advent calendar!

It turns out that Cochrane’s for Christmas, not just for life, with evidence in the Cochrane Library on all manner of festive things from gold, frankincense and myrrh to stockings! Ok, some of the links are a bit tenuous, but we hope you’ll enjoy our advent calendar.

Owing to some trouble with the technology elves, we couldn’t make it interactive (boo!) but each day we’ll post some Cochrane evidence related to the day’s picture, below the calendar. If you think of any others, do share them via the comments box.

advent calendar

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3 things to help people with COPD keep well and keep out of hospital

Today I have some good news about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or COPD. This is an umbrella term covering a number of conditions, including chronic bronchitis and emphysema, where people have difficulty breathing because of lung damage. Smoking is by far the biggest cause of COPD, but environmental factors and genetics can also play a part. It’s a common, debilitating and life-threatening condition. It’s a global problem and in the UK it’s the second highest cause of hospital admission. COPD places a huge burden on the patient and on healthcare budgets, with much of the costs due to treatment in hospital. We need some good news on this and some good evidence to guide decisions about managing COPD.

So, what is the good news? We have a bunch of new and updated reviews from the Cochrane Airways Group which have some decent evidence to guide us on some things that work with respect to managing COPD.  Continue reading

A mystery, missing evidence and some answers!

Contrary to what you might expect, you’ll have to wait until the end for the mystery, though in truth missing data and important questions that remain unanswered could also be labelled as that, and this is where I start.

My last blog was a round-up of new and updated reviews on asthma and I begin this one with another offering from the Cochrane Airways Group (do these people never take a day off?). It’s another tale of what we still don’t know, this time about a class of anti-inflammatory drugs called anti-leukotrines. For managing mild persistent asthma in children, low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are recommended, but if symptoms aren’t well controlled with ICS then anti-leukotrines may be added. Almost ten years ago, a Cochrane review was published which pulled together the available evidence on the safety and effectiveness of this treatment for adults and children and found very little to go on, with just two small trials with children. Now a review has been published which looked for trials involving children (any age below 18) and finds we’re not much further on.

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Exercise and asthma: what does the evidence say?

Some people with asthma find their symptoms are worse when they exercise, or restrict their physical activity for fear that this will be so. Others report that their asthma symptoms are better when they are fit. Several reviews from the Cochrane Airways Group have recently been published on aspects of exercise for people with asthma. Continue reading

What’s being served up in the Cochrane Library?

The reviews are flying into the Cochrane Library quicker than balls off Murray’s racquet this week and several aces have been served! Here’s my pick of the past fortnight.

It’s all strawberries and Pimms in SW19 but in WC1 the good folk of the Cochrane Heart Group are concentrating on garlic sandwiches and tea. Now I like a nice cuppa but a garlic sandwich? Even Jamie Oliver might balk at that, but the suggestion crops up in a new review on preventing cardiovascular disease (CVD) through providing fruit and vegetables to encourage people to eat more of them, or just advising them to do so. I asked heart doctor Harry Boardman to take a look. Continue reading

New evidence on benefits of formoterol for asthma, but there are still unanswered questions

Key message: The addition of new evidence to this review has shown a significant reduction in asthma-related non-fatal serious adverse events in adults with asthma who are given regular formoterol as well as inhaled steroids.

When asthma is not well controlled by low-dose inhaled corticosteroids (ICS), many asthma guidelines recommend adding another type of medicine, a long-acting beta2-agonist, such as formoterol. These have been shown to improve lung function, quality of life and asthma symptoms but there are concerns about their safety when used regularly. Continue reading