Recovering after stroke is extremely difficult. Not only you have to try to live with the changes presented by the disease, you also have to understand the risk of developing a secondary stroke at any time. A team of scientists led by the Universities of Edinburgh and Nottingham have just made a step towards better treatments that prevent recurrence of types of stroke and dementia caused by damage to small blood vessels in the brain.
Scientists invited 57 people, who survived lacunar stroke, to participate in the study. Lacunar stroke ir characterized by its cause – damaged small blood vessels. In addition to usual treatments to prevent further strokes participants were also taking experimental medicines – either two combines or individually one by one. During the 9 week research period scientists routinely checked participants’ blood pressure, scanned their brain and ran other tests. Not only scientists found that these drugs are safe, but they also saw evidence that the treatments helped improve blood vessel function in the arms and brain.
Scientists say that the drugs in question, called cilostazol and isosorbide mononitrate, could even help improving thinking skills, but more research is needed in that area. These medicines are already in use in treatments of other conditions, such as heart disease and angina. This would make them easier to approve and implement in a new therapy. Especially since now scientists found that cilostazol and isosorbide mononitrate do not cause any serious side effects, even when given in full dose or in combination with other medicines. This is very important, because damage to small blood vessels in the brain is responsible for around a quarter of strokes, as well as many dementia cases.
Of course, this is just a small step towards a new therapy – it is going to be quite a while until these drugs can be prescribed on a bigger scale. Joanna Wardlaw, one of the authors of the study, said: “We are delighted that the results of this trial show promise for treating a common cause of stroke and the commonest cause of vascular dementia, since currently there are no effective treatments. Further trials are underway”. This is simply great news, because there hasn’t been a new drug for dementia for 15 years.
Dementia research is making leaps all the time, but they rarely translate into clinical applications. It always takes years for all the trials to be complete. But using drugs that are already approved for different conditions could speed up the process.
Source: University of Edinburgh