Monday, February 20, 2006

Aspirin cuts severity of stroke

Aspirin, the wonder drug, is in the news again.

It is well known that the use of aspirin and other anti-platelet therapies reduces the risk of recurrent stroke and ischemic events. Now, a study presented here recently at the International Stroke Conference (ISC) has reported that people who use anti-platelet therapies prior to having a stroke also have significantly better outcomes compared with those who do not use them. And, the findings seem to apply to all anti-platelet medications, not just aspirin.

After a mean of 16 months of follow-up, patients who had been using antiplatelet therapy had a significantly lower stroke score (4.8 for users vs. 8.0 among non-users) if they had no history of prior ischemic event. Conversely, there was no meaningful score difference among patients who had had a prior event depending on whether they had been using an antiplatelet drug or not (4.91 vs. 4.86, respectively).

On the basis of these data, Dr. Sanossian said it appears that antiplatelet therapies are underutilized. Even if the stroke risk scores did not reflect a benefit to taking antiplatelet among patients who had a history of prior ischemic events, past research has shown that these agents greatly reduce the risk of a subsequent events.

These data demonstrate that antiplatelet use can contribute to a less severe stroke in those with no history of prior event.

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