Magazine article Science News

Treatment May Reduce Post-Stroke Damage

Magazine article Science News

Treatment May Reduce Post-Stroke Damage

Article excerpt

Treatment may reduce post-stroke damage

A ballooning weak spot on an artery wall bursts suddenly, spilling blood into the fluid surrounding the brain. This catastrophic event, a form of stroke called subarachnoid hemorrhage, strikes an estimated 35,000 people in the United States each year.

Physicians treating people who survive the initial vessel blowout face a grim dilemma. On the one hand, early surgery to clip or repair the vessel wall can lower the patient's chance of a second deadly bleed should the weak spot burst again. But some researchers have suggested that people recovering from such surgery run an increased risk of another setback: Intact arteries supplying blood to the brain may constrict, robbing brain cells of blood and threatening neurological problems such as paralysis, speech difficulty or permanent brain damage.

On the other hand, delaying surgery until vessel constriction subsides exposes the patient to the threat of a second, potentially fatal artery rupture.

In a preliminary study, British researchers have now found that an experimental drug -- calcitonin-gene-related peptide -- temporarily reversed symptoms caused by reduced blood flow to the brain in people recovering from surgery for a ruptured artery. If larger studies confirm these results, the treatment might make early surgery safer for people who have suffered subarachnoid hemorrhage, suggest F.G. Johnston of the Atkinson Morley's Hospital in London and colleagues in the April 14 LANCET.

Johnston's group studied 15 patients who had just undergone early surgery for subarachnoid hemorrhage and who showed neurological symptoms indicating reduced blood flow to the brain. …

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