City professor pioneers new research into heart condition

Prof Martin Thornhill
Prof Martin Thornhill
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HEALTH researchers at The University of Sheffield have carried out a study into the effects of preventative antibiotics on patients with inflammation of the heart lining.

The team found the prescription of antibiotics for life-threatening heart condition endocarditis, prior to dental surgery, had limited benefits for patients.

The findings are in line the National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidance which said in 2008 they should not be routinely prescribed.

The research was led by Martin Thornhill, Professor of Oral Medicine at The University of Sheffield and Honorary Consultant in Oral Medicine at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and published in the British Medical Journal.

Until March 2008, it was common practice in the UK to prescribe antibiotics before such procedures to help prevent the condition, which affects around 10 in 100,000 people in the UK every year.

But NICE now recommends antibiotics should not be routinely offered, due to doubts over their effectiveness.

The study found despite the number of prescriptions of antibiotics falling by 78.6 per cent, there was no significant increase in the number of cases of, or deaths caused by, endocarditis.

Prof Thornhill said: “With the introduction of the guidelines it was important we analysed the impact of changing practices across the country.

“Our study has shown that there has not been any significant increase in the number of cases of, or deaths caused by, endocarditis, and supports the NICE guideline recommendations in this respect.

“However, it does not rule out the possibility that antibiotics may be beneficial for a small group of patients at particularly high risk of developing endocarditis.”