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New Stroke Therapies Show Promise
Date:2/22/2008

d at patients in China, South Korea and Australia with acute cerebral hemorrhage, the most serious form of stroke.

"High blood pressure is a cause of intercerebral hemorrhage and is also very common at [the] acute state, and we don't know what to do about it," said study author Dr. Craig Anderson, from the University of Sydney in Australia. "We believe that having high blood pressure causes extra bleeding and expansion of blood in the brain. If we can bring blood pressure down, we may be able to arrest bleeding in the brain and bring it under control."

In fact, intensive lowering of blood pressure arrested about half a teaspoon of blood and, Anderson said, "in real life, it might have a bigger treatment effect."

Again, the authors hope the findings will lead to funding for larger trials.

A third trial found that reducing blood pressure in the 60 percent to 70 percent of patients who have elevated levels following acute stroke resulted in reduced dysphasia (communication problems) and some mortality benefits.

"These are very small numbers, and I don't want to hang too much on those results, but I think it's very encouraging, so we can probably go forward and do a much larger phase 3 study," said British study author Dr. John Potter.

For now, Gorelick said, "we continue to recommend that physicians follow American Heart Association/American Stroke Association guidelines. The blood pressure [issue] has not been resolved, and there are important questions of what to do with blood pressure. . . [although] it would be nice to have a definitive plan here and get people on blood pressure-lowering medicine."

Other studies being presented at the conference found that:

  • The recently approved Penumbra device, a "vacuum cleaner" which sucks clots out of the brain, was effective for eight hours after the onset of a stroke, adding five hours to a patient's treatment window.
  • Aricept
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