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Clinical Trial for Preventing Strokes Shows Promising Results

Update Date: Mar 21, 2013 12:34 PM EDT

Strokes that afflict younger people might be more preventable, according to researchers of a clinical trial. Early findings from a large multicenter clinical trial evaluating the best treatment options for younger patients reveal promising results for a new form of preventive treatment. The trial observed strokes that are linked to a hole in the heart, and thus the treatment option is limited to people with this condition. The treatment is designed to seal that hole in the upper chambers of the heart through a hole-closure device, hoping that fixing the hole is key in preventing future strokes.

The study recruited 980 patients from the ages of 18 to 60, with the average age of 46. The researchers aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of two treatments. The first one involved sealing the hole with a device and using anti-clotting medications. The second treatment only involved using the anti-clotting medications. Over the span of eight years, the patients were monitored for two and a half years and the researchers found that the patients who received the button-like device had fewer recurrent strokes than the other group that received the traditional anticoagulants. The first group of patients had a 9 percent chance of another stroke whereas the latter group had a 16 percent of suffering a stroke again.

All of the patients enrolled in the study suffered a stroke and had a hole in their heart known as patent foramen ovaleor (PFO). Although there is no causal relationship between the two, roughly 10 percent of strokes within the United States had the common link of PFO.

The study's findings, however, were not considered to be definite since the difference in percentages did not meet statistical tests, indicating that the actual benefits of the device could not be determined. The researchers did note that the treatment does promise optimistic results for younger patients, but more research needs to be done regarding the button-device therapy.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine

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