Items in AFP with MESH term: Evidence-Based Medicine
ABSTRACT: Over the past decade, the conceptual understanding of heart failure has changed significantly. Several large clinical trials have demonstrated that pharmacologic interventions can dramatically reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with heart failure. These trials have extended the therapeutic paradigm for treating heart failure beyond the goal of limiting congestive symptoms of volume overload. This two-part article presents an evidence-based guideline to assist primary care physicians in evaluating and treating patients with heart failure. Part I describes the new paradigm of heart failure and offers guidance for diagnostic testing. Part II presents a treatment guideline.
ABSTRACT: Colorectal cancer is a significant contributor to morbidity and mortality in the United States. Studies published in the early 1990s, showing that screening for colorectal cancer can reduce colorectal cancer-related mortality, led many organizations to recommend screening in asymptomatic, average-risk adults older than 50 years. Since then, however, national screening rates remain low. Several important studies published over the past four years have refined our understanding of existing screening tools and explored novel means of screening and prevention. The most important new developments, which are reviewed in this article, include the following: Additional trial results support the effectiveness of fecal occult blood testing in reducing the incidence of, and mortality from, colorectal cancer. New studies document the sensitivity of fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, and double-contrast barium enema compared with colonoscopy. Cost-effectiveness models show that screening by any of several methods is cost-effective compared to no screening. Randomized trials show that calcium is effective but fiber is not effective in preventing reoccurrence of adenomatous polyps. Preliminary data suggest that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent adenomatous polyps and that DNA stool tests and virtual colonoscopy may show promise as screening tools. This new information provides further support for efforts to increase the use of colorectal cancer screening and prevention services in adults older than 50 years.
ABSTRACT: Traditional clinical review articles, also known as updates, differ from systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Updates selectively review the medical literature while discussing a topic broadly. Non-quantitative systematic reviews comprehensively examine the medical literature, seeking to identify and synthesize all relevant information to formulate the best approach to diagnosis or treatment. Meta-analyses (quantitative systematic reviews) seek to answer a focused clinical question, using rigorous statistical analysis of pooled research studies. This article presents guidelines for writing an evidence-based clinical review article for American Family Physician. First, the topic should be of common interest and relevance to family practice. Include a table of the continuing medical education objectives of the review. State how the literature search was done and include several sources of evidence-based reviews, such as the Cochrane Collaboration, BMJ's Clinical Evidence, or the InfoRetriever Web site. Where possible, use evidence based on clinical outcomes relating to morbidity, mortality, or quality of life, and studies of primary care populations. In articles submitted to American Family Physician, rate the level of evidence for key recommendations according to the following scale: level A (randomized controlled trial [RCT], meta-analysis); level B (other evidence); level C (consensus/expert opinion). Finally, provide a table of key summary points.
Diagnosis of Acute Coronary Syndrome - Article
ABSTRACT: The term 'acute coronary syndrome' encompasses a range of thrombotic coronary artery diseases, including unstable angina and both ST-segment elevation and non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction. Diagnosis requires an electrocardiogram and a careful review for signs and symptoms of cardiac ischemia. In acute coronary syndrome, common electrocardiographic abnormalities include T-wave tenting or inversion, ST-segment elevation or depression (including J-point elevation in multiple leads), and pathologic Q waves. Risk stratification allows appropriate referral of patients to a chest pain center or emergency department, where cardiac enzyme levels can be assessed. Most high-risk patients should be hospitalized. Intermediate-risk patients should undergo a structured evaluation, often in a chest pain unit. Many low-risk patients can be discharged with appropriate follow-up. Troponin T or I generally is the most sensitive determinant of acute coronary syndrome, although the MB isoenzyme of creatine kinase also is used. Early markers of acute ischemia include myoglobin and creatine kinase-MB subforms (or isoforms), when available. In the future, advanced diagnostic modalities, such as myocardial perfusion imaging, may have a role in reducing unnecessary hospitalizations.
Management of Genital Warts - Article
ABSTRACT: Genital warts caused by human papillomavirus infection are encountered commonly in primary care. Evidence guiding treatment selection is limited, but treatment guidelines recently have changed. Biopsy, viral typing, acetowhite staining, and other diagnostic measures are not routinely required. The goal of treatment is clearance of visible warts; some evidence exists that treatment reduces infectivity, but there is no evidence that treatment reduces the incidence of cervical and genital cancer. The choice of therapy is based on the number, size, site, and morphology of lesions, as well as patient preferences, cost, convenience, adverse effects, and clinician experience. Patient-applied therapy such as imiquimod cream or podofilox is increasingly recommended. Podofilox, imiquimod, surgical excision, and cryotherapy are the most convenient and effective options. Fluorouracil and interferon are no longer recommended for routine use. The cost per successful treatment course is approximately dollars 200 to dollars 300 for podofilox, cryotherapy, electrodesiccation, surgical excision, laser treatment, and the loop electrosurgical excision procedure.
Health Effects of Garlic - Article
ABSTRACT: Garlic has long been used medicinally, most recently for its cardiovascular, antineoplastic, and antimicrobial properties. Sulfur compounds, including allicin, appear to be the active components in the root bulb of the garlic plant. Studies show significant but modest lipid-lowering effects and antiplatelet activity. Significant blood pressure reduction is not consistently noted. There is some evidence for antineoplastic activity and insufficient evidence for clinical antimicrobial activity. Side effects generally are mild and uncommon. Garlic appears to have no effect on drug metabolism, but patients taking anticoagulants should be cautious. It seems prudent to stop taking high dosages of garlic seven to 10 days before surgery because garlic can prolong bleeding time.
ABSTRACT: Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the vertebral canal that compresses spinal nerves and may cause leg pain and difficulty walking. The symptoms of degenerative lumbar stenosis commonly occur in elderly adults and can be treated conservatively with pain-relieving agents or aggressively with decompressive surgery. Most studies of the effectiveness of treatments are poor in quality; however, there appear to be potential relationships between treatments, patient characteristics, and treatment outcomes. Studies indicate the following: (1) local anesthetic block can reduce symptoms on a short-term basis, while epidural steroids offer no additional benefit; (2) patients with moderate or severe symptoms benefit more from surgery than from conservative therapy; and (3) patients with leg pain and severely restricted walking ability regain mobility after surgery. Definitive evidence-based conclusions about the efficacy of conservative or surgical treatments await the results of well-designed clinical trials.
Diagnosis and Management of Preeclampsia - Article
ABSTRACT: Preeclampsia is a pregnancy-specific multisystem disorder of unknown etiology. The disorder affects approximately 5 to 7 percent of pregnancies and is a significant cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and mortality. Preeclampsia is defined by the new onset of elevated blood pressure and proteinuria after 20 weeks of gestation. It is considered severe if blood pressure and proteinuria are increased substantially or symptoms of end-organ damage (including fetal growth restriction) occur. There is no single reliable, cost-effective screening test for preeclampsia, and there are no well-established measures for primary prevention. Management before the onset of labor includes close monitoring of maternal and fetal status. Management during delivery includes seizure prophylaxis with magnesium sulfate and, if necessary, medical management of hypertension. Delivery remains the ultimate treatment. Access to prenatal care, early detection of the disorder, careful monitoring, and appropriate management are crucial elements in the prevention of preeclampsia-related deaths.
ABSTRACT: Traditionally, cranberry has been used for the treatment and prophylaxis of urinary tract infections. Research suggests that its mechanism of action is preventing bacterial adherence to host cell surface membranes. Systematic reviews have concluded that no reliable evidence supports the use of cranberry in the treatment or prophylaxis of urinary tract infections; however, more recent, randomized controlled trials demonstrate evidence of cranberry's utility in urinary tract infection prophylaxis. Supporting studies in humans are lacking for other clinical uses of cranberry. Cranberry is a safe, well-tolerated herbal supplement that does not have significant drug interactions.
The Patient with Daily Headaches - Article
ABSTRACT: The term 'chronic daily headache' (CDH) describes a variety of headache types, of which chronic migraine is the most common. Daily headaches often are disabling and may be challenging to diagnose and treat. Medication overuse, or drug rebound headache, is the most treatable cause of refractory daily headache. A pathologic underlying cause should be considered in patients with recent-onset daily headache, a change from a previous headache pattern, or associated neurologic or systemic symptoms. Treatment of CDH focuses on reduction of headache triggers and use of preventive medication, most commonly anti-depressants, antiepileptic drugs, and beta blockers. Medication overuse must be treated with discontinuation of symptomatic medicines, a transitional therapy, and long-term prophylaxis. Anxiety and depression are common in patients with CDH and should be identified and treated. Although the condition is challenging, appropriate treatment of patients with CDH can bring about significant improvement in the patient's quality-of-life.