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Scientists report a potential new treatment to prevent strokes

Posted Nov 26 2012 9:36am Research from the University of Warwick and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) may have discovered a new way to prevent strokes in high risk patients.

The findings of a new research group, led by Professor Donald Singer, Professor of Therapeutics at Warwick Medical School and Professor Chris Imray from UHCW have been published in US journal Stroke.

The group is using ultrasound scanning to look at patients with carotid arteryOne of the two main arteries found on either side of the neck. disease, one of the major causes of stroke. Clots often form on diseased carotid arteriesThe two main arteries in the neck. in the neck. If small parts of these clots, called microemboli, break off they can travel to block key arteries in the brain arteries. This leads to weakness, disturbed speech, loss of vision and other serious stroke syndromes. Standard anti-plateletStructure in the blood that helps the blood to clot. drugs such as aspirinOne of the most used medicines. may not prevent the formation of these harmful microemboli.

Ultrasound scanning can be used to find patients who are at very high risk of stroke because microemboli have formed despite prior anti-platelet drugs. Using scanning, the team has found that an alternative anti-platelet drug designed to inhibit the formation of bloodA fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. clots, called tirofiban, can suppress microemboli where previous treatment such as aspirin has been ineffective.

Professor Singer said: “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.”

Professor Imray said: “These findings show the importance of ultrasoundA diagnostic method in which very high frequency sound waves are passed into the body and the reflective echoes analysed to build a picture of the internal organs – or of the foetus in the uterus. testing for micro-emboli in carotid disease patients. These biomarkersA substance that can be measured to help healthcare professionals to assess normal processes, disease processes or a person's response to treatment. of high stroke risk cannot be predicted just from assessing the severity of risk factors such as smoking history, cholesterolA substance present in many tissues and an important constituent of cell membranes although high concentrations of a certain type of cholesterol in the blood are unhealthy. and blood pressureThe pressure of blood within the arteries..”

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