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New thinking into the treatments of strokes

Wednesday 29th February 2012
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Strokes are one of the most medical conditions across the world, affecting a wide range of people.

Whilst this problem can prove to be dangerous, doctors and researchers are continuing to look into ways to help a patient recover and deal with the after effects that come with being a victim of an attack. Scientists across the world have been developing various drugs and compounds that will benefit the thousands of people in the UK and the millions of people worldwide recover from potentially highly damaging attacks.

In Britain, the NHS has estimated that 110,000 new strokes happen every year with a further 30,000 people having relapses from previous attacks. When compared to figures from the US, where on average 140,000 people die every year, it suggests that the way in which strokes are being treated are improving. Officials at the NHS have found that people had a 12 per cent risk of dying seven days after an attack, the figure rises to 19 per cent and 30 per cent after a month and a year respectively.

Researchers have been looking into ways of how to reduce these percentages by developing treatments to help people during the aftercare process. A team at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, recently announced that they had developed a compound that they claim can repair damaged tissue left in the wake of a stroke. The substance, which is said to bind 1,000 times more effectively to target the protein in the brain damaged by the condition, has already been tested on animals and provided positive results.

Doctors believe that methods such as this could be an alternative to using drugs that can not break through the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier. Whilst treatments are being developed all the time some researchers believe that just by being born in a different country can give a person a better chance of not experiencing the condition in their lives.

At the American Academy of Neurology's 64th Annual Meeting in New Orleans researchers from the Harvard School of Health in Boston, Massachusetts, will present the theory that foreign-born Hispanics living in the US have a lower chance of having strokes as opposed to non-Hispanic white people. The researchers' study showed that people who were born outside of the US, but lived there during their lifetime, were 42 per cent less likely of having a stroke than those that were born within the US.

J. Robin Moon, DPH and lead author of the research, said: "This protective effect does not extend to Hispanics born in the US, who have stroke risk similar to non-Hispanic whites with similar education and financial resources. Future research should address what could explain this pattern."

Once a person has had a stroke that might not be the end of the illness as, noted in the NHS statistics, patients can suffer a recurrence of the condition. However, doctors and researchers have been devising ways in which they can predict when a recurrence of the attack is about to happen. Using the latest in scanning technology researchers in Canada have found that without using the typical MRI scans, which are not as readily available in the country, they can detect when a relapse is imminent. Doctors devised whether CT scans could be just as effective when an MRI is unavailable. CT systems can pinpoint blockages and narrowed blood vessels, key attributes to the cause of stokes, and were successful in being able to give doctors an indication of whether they could send a patient home safely.

Whilst strokes continue to be a concern for many patients and doctors with improved technology and new methods of treatments, researchers are only just one step away from developing an effective and readily available cure which could save millions of lives.

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Written by James PuckleADNFCR-1780-ID-801305378-ADNFCR

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