Focus on Stroke
A landmark international study involving 6,000 people has concluded
that taking two drugs in combination cuts the number of repeat strokes,
heart attacks, and deaths by a quarter to a third.
Participants in the five year study were given indapamide, a diuretic
used to treat water retention and high blood pressure, and perindopril,
one of a class of blood pressure drugs called ACE inhibitors which ease
blood flow by helping to dilate blood vessels.
In the trials, a 28% reduction in all types of stroke was noted.
Major heart attacks declined by 26%. Among patients whose stroke had
involved bleeding in the brain, stroke risk dropped by as much as 50%.
The combination therapy benefited those with normal blood pressure, as
well as those with high blood pressure.
Prof. John Chalmers, of the Institute for International Health, Sydney,
who led the study, recommends that "combination therapy should
be considered for all patients, irrespective of the type of stroke,
irrespective of blood pressure levels."
Cell therapy holds promise for stroke victims
Human cell transplants could help repair damage caused by stroke,
according to a study reported in the journal Neurology.
In the study, strokes were induced in
rats, some of whom then received transplants of human bone marrow
cells. Two weeks later, treated rats outperformed controls on tests
of abilities and reflexes. They completed the tests 60% faster and
showed a 30% improvement in overall neurological score.
could expand the treatment window for stroke by several hours or
more. Human trials are now being planned.
Botox has been shown helpful in relieving the wrist and finger pain
that bothers many stroke victims. A study reported in The New
England Journal of Medicine (August 8, 2002) found that 62% of
patients given Botox showed improvement.
The 126 stroke survivors in the study suffered from painful spasticity
in their hands and wrists, making even getting dressed difficult.
Some patients were injected with 12 times the dose of Botox given for
wrinkle reduction; others were given a placebo. Three months later,
those receiving Botox showed clear improvement in personal hygiene,
dressing, limb position, and pain.
Dr. Allison Brashear, associate professor of neurology at Indiana
University School of Medicine and lead author of the study noted,
"Most Botox used in this country is for neurological problems.
You can put it right where the problem is."
Botox injections allow specific areas of pain and impairment to be
targeted while avoiding the side effects of oral medications.
Note: Botox (botulinum toxin A) is a drug that relaxes
muscles by inactivating the nerves that control them.
Low potassium levels appear linked to strokes
Interested in preventing stroke? Eat lots of bananas, avocados
and green leafy vegetables. The potassium they contain may lower
your risk of stroke.
Tests on 5,600 Americans over 65, followed for a period of six years, found
that people with the lowest levels of potassium in their diet were 1.5
times more likely to suffer from strokes than people with the highest
Benefits were especially marked for people taking diuretics (drugs
prescribed for high blood pressure that reduce water in the body).
Findings published in Neurology