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Matrons added to GP's workload

Black people are more likely to survive a stroke than white people, a UK study has found.

Although black people are at an increased risk of stroke, their five-year survival rates were found to be better at 57 per cent compared with 36 per cent for white people. The trend remained after adjustment for socioeconomic status and age. Older black people, in particular those over 75, had a substantial survival advantage over comparable white people.

The study involved more than 2,000 patients on the south London stroke register who had a first stroke between 1995 and 2002.

BMJ Online First July 29, 2005

Echinacea no benefit in colds

Echinacea has no significant benefits in the prevention or treatment of the common cold, a placebo-controlled trial has found.

Researchers gave one of three different Echinacea augustifola extracts or a placebo to 399 volunteers before and after challenge with a standard common cold-causing rhinovirus.

There was no difference between any of the groups in the number of volunteers who became infected with the virus or in the degree of symptoms. There were no effects of treatment on the volume of nasal secretions, polymorphonuclear leukocyte or interleukin-8 concentration in nasal-lavage specimens.

New England Journal of Medicine 2005;353:341-8

Asthma a risk for stroke

Asthma may be an independent risk factor for stroke in middle-aged people, US researchers have found.They compared self-reported and doctor-diagnosed asthma with incidents of cardiovascular disease in 13,501 adults aged 45-64 who were followed for 14 years.

Those who reported ever having had asthma at baseline had a 1.50-fold higher risk of stroke than those who had never had the condition.

Those reporting wheeze attacks with shortness of breath had a 1.56-times higher risk of stroke than those without these symptoms. CHD risk was not related to asthma.

Thorax 2005; 60: 633-8

Condom use prevents Chlamydia

Using condoms is an effective way of preventing Chlamydia trachomatis infections. An American study compared C. trachomatis infection rates according to condom use among 1,455 patients attending a public STD clinic.

Among those who had presented as a contact of an infected partner 13.3 per cent of consistent condom users had the disease, compared with 34.4 per cent of inconsistent condom users.

Sexually Transmitted Infections 2005;

81:323-5

CRP predicts CVD death

C-reactive protein (CRP) concentration is an important predictor of 10-year cardiovascular death risk in newly diagnosed patients with inflammatory polyarthritis, UK research finds.

Some 506 patients with inflammatory polyarthritis were followed for an average of 10.1 years. A baseline CRP level of 5mg/l or above was associated with a 3.9-fold increased risk of CVD death among men and a 4.22-fold increased risk among women.

Elevated CRP remained a significant independent predictor of CVD death after adjusting for age, sex, smoking, HAQ score, rheumatoid factor positivity and swollen joint counts. The researchers concluded that CRP may play a direct role in the patholgenesis of CVD.

Arthritis and Rheumatism 2005;52:2293-9

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