AUGUSTA, Ga. Bleeding into the brain following a stroke doesn't have to be big to be bad, says a researcher exploring a therapy to eliminate the major risk of minor bleeding.
The main problem with a minor bleed is the Iron in the blood , which is essential to transporting oxygen to the brain and body, but can be lethal when it comes in direct contact with brain tissue, said Dr. Adviye Ergul, vascular physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.
"We need iron in our blood, but we don't want it in our brain," said Ergul, who recently received a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to better understand how a relatively small amount of blood and iron are bad for the brain and whether an agent that mops up iron can help.
Her focus is diabetes, which puts patients at higher risk of stroke, bleeding, and poor recovery. As with the general population, people with diabetes are at greatest risk for a clot-based stroke that interrupts blood and oxygen supplies to the brain, much as a heart attack does to the heart.
But the damage diabetes does to blood vessels making existing vessels leaky and prompting proliferation of new, leaky ones also means these patients may subsequently experience bleeding from the miles of tiny blood vessels in their brain.
"Patients with diabetes are more likely to bleed into the brain following an ischemic stroke," Ergul said. "It happens spontaneously; it also happens with tPA." Tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, is a clot-busting agent and the only currently approved medical therapy for stroke. Bleeding is a known risk of tPA that increases in diabetes.
"Patients with diabetes are some of the highest risk patients to bleed with tPA," Ergul said. In fact, while no such recommendations exists in the United States, in Europe, patients with prior stroke and diabetes are not given tPA when they have a recurrent stroke.
From observations in her animal
|Contact: Toni Baker|
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University