~ Stroke Severity Reduced by Aspirin

The ability of aspirin to help prevent heart attack and stroke has been well established through a number of large studies. A new report published in the December 2001 issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association has revealed that aspirin can also reduce the severity of stroke. Strokes can be mild and can even go unnoticed by their sufferers, or short of being lethal, can leave their victims with serious neurologic impairment, depriving them of speech, memory, or movement, which can frequently necessitate lifelong care.

In this study, 1275 patients who had experienced ischemic stroke who were part of the multicenter Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment, or "TOAST" trial, were questioned on the use of aspirin the week before the stroke. Five hundred-nine, or approximately 40%, reported using at least one aspirin during the time period, while 766 reported not using it. The severity of their strokes were assessed at enrollment in the trial and after three months, and classified as mild, moderate or severe according to scores determined by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale and the Supplementary Motor Examination.

Half of the aspirin users experienced mild strokes compared to 43% in nonusers as determined by both examination scores. Of those who used aspirin, less than 10% had strokes classified as severe, in contrast with 15% of nonusers. After three months, stroke severity as measured by the second examination remained lower in the aspirin group.

The researchers have postulated aspirin's antiplatelet, antioxidant or anti-inflammatory effects as being responsible for its association with less severe strokes. Lead researcher Janet Wilterdink, MD, of Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island, commented, "Aspirin has a rich pharmacology, some of which is still being elucidated. I believe that a combination of all these mechanism has the potential to play a significant role in aspirinís beneficial effect."

Aspirin As Effective As Standard Blood Thinner In Prevention Of Stroke

The November 15, 2001, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine published a study sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke that demonstrated the ability of aspirin to prevent a second stroke as effectively as the anticoagulant drug warfarin. Antiplatelet therapies such as aspirin have been recommended following stroke in an attempt to prevent recurrence, nevertheless, second strokes still frequently occur. This trial sought to determine if warfarin possessed a superior ability to that of aspirin in prevention of second stroke occurrence, of which the risk in stroke patients is substantial. Warfarin inhibits circulating clotting proteins and aspirin affects blood platelets, both aiding in the prevention of blood clots that cause the most common type of stroke.

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