DRUG NEWS: Corticosteroids do more harm than good

January 2005 
Volume 35  Number 1
Pages 28 - 28
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    Administering corticosteroids to patients with head injuries, a standard treatment for many years, appears to increase the risk of death, according to results of a study that was stopped early because of this result. In a study of 10,008 patients with head injuries, 21% of those who received corticosteroids died within 2 weeks, compared with 18% of those who received a placebo instead.

    Health care providers have traditionally administered corticosteroids to treat head injuries in the belief that the drugs' anti-inflammatory effects would reduce brain swelling. In this first major study of the practice, researchers say their findings are compelling enough to warrant advising clinicians against using corticosteroids routinely to treat head injury, whatever the severity.

    The study involved adult patients whose Glasgow coma scores were 14 or lower within 8 hours of head injury. The patients, who came from 239 hospitals in ...

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