Effectiveness of text message based, diabetes self management support programme (SMS4BG)

Objective To determine the effectiveness of a theoretically based and individually tailored, text message based, diabetes self management support intervention (SMS4BG) in adults with poorly controlled diabetes.

Design Nine month, two arm, parallel randomised controlled trial.

Setting Primary and secondary healthcare services in New Zealand.

Participants 366 participants aged 16 years and over with poorly controlled type 1 or type 2 diabetes (HbA1c ≥65 mmol/mol or 8%) randomised between June 2015 and November 2016 (n=183 intervention, n=183 control).

Interventions The intervention group received a tailored package of text messages for up to nine months in addition to usual care. Text messages provided information, support, motivation, and reminders related to diabetes self management and lifestyle behaviours. The control group received usual care. Messages were delivered by a specifically designed automated content management system.

Main outcome measures Primary outcome measure was change in glycaemic control (HbA1c) from baseline to nine months. Secondary outcomes included change in HbA1c at three and six months, and self efficacy, diabetes self care behaviours, diabetes distress, perceptions and beliefs about diabetes, health related quality of life, perceived support for diabetes management, and intervention engagement and satisfaction at nine months. Regression models adjusted for baseline outcome, health district category, diabetes type, and ethnicity.

Results The reduction in HbA1c at nine months was significantly greater in the intervention group (mean −8.85 mmol/mol (standard deviation 14.84)) than in the control group (−3.96 mmol/mol (17.02); adjusted mean difference −4.23 (95% confidence interval −7.30 to −1.15), P=0.007). Of 21 secondary outcomes, only four showed statistically significant improvements in favour of the intervention group at nine months. Significant improvements were seen for foot care behaviour (adjusted mean difference 0.85 (95% confidence interval 0.40 to 1.29), P<0.001), overall diabetes support (0.26 (0.03 to 0.50), P=0.03), health status on the EQ-5D visual analogue scale (4.38 (0.44 to 8.33), P=0.03), and perceptions of illness identity (−0.54 (−1.04 to −0.03), P=0.04). High levels of satisfaction with SMS4BG were found, with 161 (95%) of 169 participants reporting it to be useful, and 164 (97%) willing to recommend the programme to other people with diabetes.

Conclusion A tailored, text message based, self management support programme resulted in modest improvements in glycaemic control in adults with poorly controlled diabetes. Although the clinical significance of these results is unclear, the findings support further investigation into the use of SMS4BG and other text message based support for this patient population.

Trial registration Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12614001232628.

Reference: BMJ 2018;361:k1959


Antidepressant utilisation and incidence of weight gain during 10 years’ follow-up

Objective To evaluate the long term association between antidepressant prescribing and body weight.

Design Population based cohort study.

Setting General practices contributing to the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, 2004-14.

Participants 136 762 men and 157 957 women with three or more records for body mass index (BMI).

Main outcome measures The main outcomes were antidepressant prescribing, incidence of ≥5% increase in body weight, and transition to overweight or obesity. Adjusted rate ratios were estimated from a Poisson model adjusting for age, sex, depression recording, comorbidity, coprescribing of antiepileptics or antipsychotics, deprivation, smoking, and advice on diet.

Results In the year of study entry, 17 803 (13.0%) men and 35 307 (22.4%) women with a mean age of 51.5 years (SD 16.6 years) were prescribed antidepressants. During 1 836 452 person years of follow-up, the incidence of new episodes of ≥5 weight gain in participants not prescribed antidepressants was 8.1 per 100 person years and in participants prescribed antidepressants was 11.2 per 100 person years (adjusted rate ratio 1.21, 95% confidence interval 1.19 to 1.22, P<0.001). The risk of weight gain remained increased during at least six years of follow-up. In the second year of treatment the number of participants treated with antidepressants for one year for one additional episode of ≥5% weight gain was 27 (95% confidence interval 25 to 29). In people who were initially of normal weight, the adjusted rate ratio for transition to overweight or obesity was 1.29 (1.25 to 1.34); in people who were initially overweight, the adjusted rate ratio for transition to obesity was 1.29 (1.25 to 1.33). Associations may not be causal, and residual confounding might contribute to overestimation of associations.

Conclusion Widespread utilisation of antidepressants may be contributing to long term increased risk of weight gain at population level. The potential for weight gain should be considered when antidepressant treatment is indicated.

Reference:  BMJ 2018;361:k1951

Severe and predominantly active atopic eczema in adulthood and long term risk of cardiovascular disease: population based cohort study

Objective To investigate whether adults with atopic eczema are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and whether the risk varies by atopic eczema severity and condition activity over time.

Design Population based matched cohort study.

Setting UK electronic health records from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, Hospital Episode Statistics, and data from the Office for National Statistics, 1998–2015.

Participants Adults with a diagnosis of atopic eczema, matched (on age, sex, general practice, and calendar time) to up to five patients without atopic eczema.

Main outcome measures Cardiovascular outcomes (myocardial infarction, unstable angina, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and cardiovascular death).

Results 387 439 patients with atopic eczema were matched to 1 528 477 patients without atopic eczema. The median age was 43 at cohort entry and 66% were female. Median follow-up was 5.1 years. Evidence of a 10% to 20% increased hazard for the non-fatal primary outcomes for patients with atopic eczema was found by using Cox regression stratified by matched set. There was a strong dose-response relation with severity of atopic eczema. Patients with severe atopic eczema had a 20% increase in the risk of stroke (hazard ratio 1.22, 99% confidence interval 1.01 to 1.48), 40% to 50% increase in the risk of myocardial infarction, unstable angina, atrial fibrillation, and cardiovascular death, and 70% increase in the risk of heart failure (hazard ratio 1.69, 99% confidence interval 1.38 to 2.06). Patients with the most active atopic eczema (active >50% of follow-up) were also at a greater risk of cardiovascular outcomes. Additional adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors as potential mediators partially attenuated the point estimates, though associations persisted for severe atopic eczema.

Conclusions Severe and predominantly active atopic eczema are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular outcomes. Targeting cardiovascular disease prevention strategies among these patients should be considered.

Reference: BMJ 2018;361:k1786

Risk of stroke and transient ischaemic attack in patients with a diagnosis of resolved atrial fibrillation: retrospective cohort studies

Objectives To determine rates of stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and all cause mortality in patients with a diagnosis of “resolved” atrial fibrillation compared to patients with unresolved atrial fibrillation and without atrial fibrillation.

Design Two retrospective cohort studies.

Setting General practices contributing to The Health Improvement Network, 1 January 2000 to 15 May 2016.

Participants Adults aged 18 years or more with no previous stroke or TIA: 11 159 with resolved atrial fibrillation, 15 059 controls with atrial fibrillation, and 22 266 controls without atrial fibrillation.

Main outcome measures Primary outcome was incidence of stroke or TIA. Secondary outcome was all cause mortality.

Results Adjusted incidence rate ratios for stroke or TIA in patients with resolved atrial fibrillation were 0.76 (95% confidence interval 0.67 to 0.85, P<0.001) versus controls with atrial fibrillation and 1.63 (1.46 to 1.83, P<0.001) versus controls without atrial fibrillation. Adjusted incidence rate ratios for mortality in patients with resolved atrial fibrillation were 0.60 (0.56 to 0.65, P<0.001) versus controls with atrial fibrillation and 1.13 (1.06 to 1.21, P<0.001) versus controls without atrial fibrillation. When patients with resolved atrial fibrillation and documented recurrent atrial fibrillation were excluded the adjusted incidence rate ratio for stroke or TIA was 1.45 (1.26 to 1.67, P<0.001) versus controls without atrial fibrillation.

Conclusion Patients with resolved atrial fibrillation remain at higher risk of stroke or TIA than patients without atrial fibrillation. The risk is increased even in those in whom recurrent atrial fibrillation is not documented. Guidelines should be updated to advocate continued use of anticoagulants in patients with resolved atrial fibrillation.

Reference:  BMJ 2018;361:k1717


Dementia And Physical Activity (DAPA) trial of moderate to high intensity exercise training for people with dementia: randomised controlled trial

Objective To estimate the effect of a moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training programme on cognitive impairment and other outcomes in people with mild to moderate dementia.

Design Multicentre, pragmatic, investigator masked, randomised controlled trial.

Setting National Health Service primary care, community and memory services, dementia research registers, and voluntary sector providers in 15 English regions.

Participants 494 people with dementia: 329 were assigned to an aerobic and strength exercise programme and 165 were assigned to usual care. Random allocation was 2:1 in favour of the exercise arm.

Interventions Usual care plus four months of supervised exercise and support for ongoing physical activity, or usual care only. Interventions were delivered in community gym facilities and NHS premises.

Main outcome measures The primary outcome was score on the Alzheimer’s disease assessment scale-cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog) at 12 months. Secondary outcomes included activities of daily living, neuropsychiatric symptoms, health related quality of life, and carer quality of life and burden. Physical fitness (including the six minute walk test) was measured in the exercise arm during the intervention.

Results The average age of participants was 77 (SD 7.9) years and 301/494 (61%) were men. By 12 months the mean ADAS-cog score had increased to 25.2 (SD 12.3) in the exercise arm and 23.8 (SD 10.4) in the usual care arm (adjusted between group difference −1.4, 95% confidence interval −2.6 to −0.2, P=0.03). This indicates greater cognitive impairment in the exercise group, although the average difference is small and clinical relevance uncertain. No differences were found in secondary outcomes or preplanned subgroup analyses by dementia type (Alzheimer’s disease or other), severity of cognitive impairment, sex, and mobility. Compliance with exercise was good. Over 65% of participants (214/329) attended more than three quarters of scheduled sessions. Six minute walking distance improved over six weeks (mean change 18.1 m, 95% confidence interval 11.6 m to 24.6 m).

Conclusion A moderate to high intensity aerobic and strength exercise training programme does not slow cognitive impairment in people with mild to moderate dementia. The exercise training programme improved physical fitness, but there were no noticeable improvements in other clinical outcomes.

Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN10416500.

Reference: BMJ 2018;361:k1675

Effect of Fremanezumab Compared With Placebo for Prevention of Episodic Migraine

Question  Is the monoclonal antibody fremanezumab effective in preventing episodic migraine?

Findings  In this randomized clinical trial that included 875 adults with episodic migraine in whom multiple medication classes had not previously failed, fremanezumab compared with placebo resulted in significantly fewer monthly migraine days with monthly dosing (–1.5 days) and with a single higher dose at baseline (–1.3 days) over 12 weeks.

Meaning  Fremanezumab as a preventive treatment for episodic migraine reduced the mean number of monthly migraine days over a 12-week period compared with placebo. Further research is needed to assess effectiveness against other preventive medications and in patients in whom multiple preventive drug classes have failed and to determine long-term safety and efficacy.

Reference: JAMA. 2018;319(19):1999-2008.

As-Needed Budesonide–Formoterol versus Maintenance Budesonide in Mild Asthma


Patients with mild asthma often rely on inhaled short-acting β2-agonists for symptom relief and have poor adherence to maintenance therapy. Another approach might be for patients to receive a fast-acting reliever plus an inhaled glucocorticoid component on an as-needed basis to address symptoms and exacerbation risk.


We conducted a 52-week, double-blind, multicenter trial involving patients 12 years of age or older who had mild asthma and were eligible for treatment with regular inhaled glucocorticoids. Patients were randomly assigned to receive twice-daily placebo plus budesonide–formoterol (200 μg of budesonide and 6 μg of formoterol) used as needed or budesonide maintenance therapy with twice-daily budesonide (200 μg) plus terbutaline (0.5 mg) used as needed. The primary analysis compared budesonide–formoterol used as needed with budesonide maintenance therapy with regard to the annualized rate of severe exacerbations, with a prespecified noninferiority limit of 1.2. Symptoms were assessed according to scores on the Asthma Control Questionnaire–5 (ACQ-5) on a scale from 0 (no impairment) to 6 (maximum impairment).


A total of 4215 patients underwent randomization, and 4176 (2089 in the budesonide–formoterol group and 2087 in the budesonide maintenance group) were included in the full analysis set. Budesonide–formoterol used as needed was noninferior to budesonide maintenance therapy for severe exacerbations; the annualized rate of severe exacerbations was 0.11 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.10 to 0.13) and 0.12 (95% CI, 0.10 to 0.14), respectively (rate ratio, 0.97; upper one-sided 95% confidence limit, 1.16). The median daily metered dose of inhaled glucocorticoid was lower in the budesonide–formoterol group (66 μg) than in the budesonide maintenance group (267 μg). The time to the first exacerbation was similar in the two groups (hazard ratio, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.78 to 1.17). The change in ACQ-5 score showed a difference of 0.11 units (95% CI, 0.07 to 0.15) in favor of budesonide maintenance therapy.


In patients with mild asthma, budesonide–formoterol used as needed was noninferior to twice-daily budesonide with respect to the rate of severe asthma exacerbations during 52 weeks of treatment but was inferior in controlling symptoms. Patients in the budesonide–formoterol group had approximately one quarter of the inhaled glucocorticoid exposure of those in the budesonide maintenance group. (Funded by AstraZeneca; SYGMA 2 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02224157.)