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Blood Pressure Treatment Can Be Used Against Stroke
Date:9/9/2008

Study finds the therapy can be given in tandem with clot-dissolving drug

TUESDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- It's safe to give the clot-dissolving drug tPA to people with very high blood pressure after they have suffered a stroke, a new study indicates.

The American Heart Association recently updated its stroke treatment guidelines to recommend use of tPA, tissue plasminogen activator, in such cases, "but there was no evidence to support that," said study leader Dr. Sean I. Savitz, co-director of the stroke center at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. "This is the first evidence," Savitz said.

The study cited a previous report that perhaps 10 percent of people eligible for tPA treatment after a stroke don't get it because of fear that the medication might cause excess bleeding. About 30 percent of people who have strokes have very high blood pressure, defined as 180/110 or higher, Savitz said.

Savitz and his colleagues, including Dr. Sheryl Martin-Schild, now at Tulane University Health Sciences Center, reviewed the medical records of 178 people who had ischemic strokes -- the most common kind, in which a blood clot blocks a brain artery -- and who got intravenous tPA within three hours, the recommended time frame.

Fifty of them had blood pressure high enough to require medication, the researchers said. Their strokes tended to be more severe, and they had higher blood sugar levels, a bad indicator for outcomes. They were given intravenous drugs such as beta blockers and calcium channel blockers to lower blood pressure even as they received the clot-dissolving therapy.

The study was done "to find out the safety of aggressively treating patients with high blood pressure and stroke," Savitz said. "We finally know it's OK, because the bleeding rates were not different, and the outcome rates were not different" in those who did or did not get blood pressure treatment.

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