"In patients who already had a transient ischemic attack or stroke and suffer from atrial fibrillation, dabigatran is as effective as warfarin," he added. "And it's much easier to handle."
Patients receiving Pradaxa had more heart attacks than those taking warfarin, but the absolute difference was small, the authors stated. Also, Pradaxa patients had higher rates of gastrointestinal bleeding.
The study was funded by Boehringer-Ingelheim GmbH, which makes this drug.
A second trial pitted the clot-busting drug Pletal against aspirin and found that Pletal was superior in preventing recurrent strokes without the bleeding complications associated with aspirin.
Among 2,700 stroke patients in the trial, those taking Pletal were 25.7 percent less likely to have a stroke than those taking aspirin. The authors had expected the stroke rate to be the same between the two groups.
"We conclude that the cilostazol is one of the options for the secondary prevention of stroke in patients who can tolerate long-term administration of this drug," said study author Dr. Yukito Shinohara, head of neurology at Tachikawa Hospital in Tokyo.
This trial was funded by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, which makes cilostazol.
The final study turned to technology to help patients severely debilitated by a stroke.
"Upper extremity impairment is very common after a stroke and there are very few therapeutic options for people with chronic stroke and few studies on rehabilitation," said study author Dr. Albert C. Lo, a neurologist at the VA Medical Center and an assistant professor of neurology at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
Patients receiving high-intensity movement therapy -- either from a human or a robot -- experienced improved functioning in their arm and improved quality of life compared with patients getting "usual care."
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