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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
Stroke prevention - for 50p a day
Around one in five stroke victims are at risk of further illness
One in five stroke victims are likely to have another - or a heart attack
A treatment to lower blood pressure could cut stroke risk by a quarter - and costs just 50p a day.

A study of over 6,000 stroke sufferers worldwide found the treatment also lowered the risk of further strokes among those who have already suffered one - even for those people who did not have high blood pressure.

Seven hundred of those who took part in the study were from the UK.

The treatment uses a combination of two drugs which are used to treat blood pressure - perindopril, from a class of drugs called ACE inhibitors, and a diuretic called indapamide.


They show that these drugs don't just help people with high blood pressure, but anyone who's had a stroke


John Reid,
University of Glasgow
Both drugs are available in the UK, and GPs could prescribe them for stroke patients.

Results showed the risk of a stroke was cut by around 25%, looking at all patients, and by almost 50% for those whose stroke had involved bleeding in the brain.

One in 11 patients given the drugs for five years would avoid a further stroke, heart attack, or death from cardiovascular disease, the study showed.

The risk of complications of stroke, such as dementia and disability, were also reduced.

Findings from the study were presented to the European Society of Cardiologists in Stockholm this week.

John Reid, professor of medicine and therapeutics at the University of Glasgow, who co-ordinated the UK part of the six-year study, told BBC News Online: "These findings are really important. They show that these drugs don't just help people with high blood pressure, but anyone who's had a stroke."

And he said it was important because aspirin could not be given to everyone who had had a stroke.

Risk

Around 60,000 people die after a stroke every year in England and Wales. Approximately 100,000 suffer a first stroke.

Globally, about one in five survivors will suffer another stroke or heart attack within five years.

More than two-thirds of all strokes occur in people who do not have high blood pressure as defined by World Health Organization standards.

The doctors who led the study say the drugs, which showed few side effects, should be available to everyone who has suffered a stroke.

A spokesman for the Stroke Association said: "This is very exciting as the research involved a very large number of people.

"Studies show that patients who suffer a stroke have a 40% risk of having another stroke and anything that helps to reduce the risk of secondary stroke or transient ischaemic attack in patients is good news.

"Uncontrolled high blood pressure is the number one cause of avoidable strokes. Four in ten people who die from stroke could have been saved if they had arranged regular blood pressure checks and then followed medical advice."

See also:

03 Aug 01 | Health
'Ice baths' help stroke patients
22 Jul 01 | Health
'Treatment for stroke' hope
18 May 01 | Health
Stroke research warning
06 Jan 01 | Health
Alcohol 'cuts strokes in women'
16 Jul 01 | Health
'My child's battle after stroke'
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