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Scientists Discover New Way to Prevent Strokes in Patients with High Risk

Update Date: Nov 23, 2012 05:50 AM EST

Scientists from the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) claim that they may have discovered a new way to prevent strokes in patients at high risk.  

The research was led by professor Donald Singer, Professor of Therapeutics, and professor Chris Imray from UHCW.

With the help of ultrasound scanning, researchers recruited patients with carotid artery disease, one of the major causes of stroke. Clots can form on diseased carotid arteries in the neck. Small parts of these clots can be released to form microemboli, which can travel to block key brain arteries and lead to weakness, disturbed speech, loss of vision and other serious stroke syndromes, Medical Xpress reported.

The anti-platelet drugs normally used, like aspirin, may not be helpful in preventing the formation of harmful microemboli.

Patients at very high risk of stroke can be detected through scanning, because the formation of microemboli would have already taken place, despite prior anti-platelet drugs.

The findings of the research team suggests that tirofiban, another drug that inhibits the formation of blood clots, can also suppress microemboli.

"These findings show that the choice of rescue medicine is very important when carotid patients develop microemboli despite previous treatment with powerful anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin. We now need to go on to further studies of anti-microemboli rescue treatments, to aim for the right balance between protection and risk for our patients," Singer said.

"These findings show the importance of ultrasound testing for micro-emboli in carotid disease patients. These biomarkers of high stroke risk cannot be predicted just from assessing the severity of risk factors such as smoking history, cholesterol and blood pressure," Imray said.

The research has been published in U.S. journal Stroke.

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