Brain scan study shows clot-busting drug benefits stroke patients

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A drug to break up blood clots in the brains of stroke patients could be used more widely without increased risk a new study suggests.

It had previously been thought that giving the drug to people with signs of early damage in the brain caused by a stroke would increase the chances of them suffering a bleed on the brain – which can be fatal.

The study is the first to show that early tissue damage seen in brain scans does not necessarily indicate an increased risk of bleeding.

The drug – called alteplase – is the only treatment for stroke caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain.

Professor Joanna Wardlaw, of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, led the study.

He said: “Bleeding in the brain is the main side effect of alteplase, so if we can avoid that hazard, then patients are more likely to benefit.

“Previous studies have not looked at pre-existing signs of damage nor considered analysing multiple signs in combination, yet having multiple and old signs are both very common in patients with stroke.”

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