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Thursday, 27 June, 2002, 13:25 GMT 14:25 UK
Drug 'reduces stroke risk for elderly'
In a stroke, the blood flow to the brain is disrupted
In a stroke, the blood flow to the brain is disrupted
Treating raised blood pressure in elderly patients can significantly reduce their risk of stroke, a study has shown.

People who only have slightly high blood pressure are not always treated for the condition because of fears drugs could affect mental ability or lead to dementia.

But importantly this study has shown this is not the case.

Stroke, which happens when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, is the largest single cause of severe disability in England and Wales, with over 300,000 people being affected at any one time.


High blood pressure is the key risk factor for stroke and so these results are really exciting

Eoin Redahan, Stroke Association
Having one stroke puts a person at a higher risk of having further strokes.

Abnormally high blood pressure, hypertension, is the most common cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes

The Scope study's findings were presented at a meeting of the International Society of Hypertension in Prague, Czech Republic.

It is the largest analysis of the treatment of mildly high blood pressure in the elderly.

It monitored just under 5,000 people aged over 70 in 15 countries.

Patients with mild hypertension were either given the drug candesartan cilexetil (Atacand) or a dummy version.

Taking the drug reduced the risk of having a non-fatal stroke by 28%.

The study also found the medication did not affect mental ability or increase the risk of dementia.

It reduced the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks by 11% and had no harmful effect on mental ability.

The drug also reduced a person's risk of developing diabetes.

It is one of a new type of hypertension medications called angiotensin II receptor antagonists.

'Big step'

Professor Lennart Hansson, from the University of Uppsala in Sweden, presented the Scope findings to the conference.

He said: "Reducing blood pressure with Atacand offers real clinical benefits by significantly cutting people's risk of non-fatal stroke.

"Importantly, and perhaps contrary to current beliefs, Scope also shows that reducing blood pressure does not increase the risk of cognitive decline or the development of dementia in elderly people.

"These results have important implications for how we currently view and treat elderly people with mild hypertension."

He added: "If we can prevent non-fatal stroke, which has complications that can cause people to be bed-ridden, stuck in a wheelchair, or unable to express themselves because they can't talk any more, it's a big step.

"The consequences of a non-fatal stroke can be very, very serious. And non-fatal strokes put a heavy burden on health systems."

Eoin Redahan, spokesman for the Stroke Association said: "Stroke is a devastating condition that turns thousands of lives upside down each year.

"Prevention is much better than cure as there really isn't a cure.

"High blood pressure is the key risk factor for stroke and so these results are really exciting. Thousands of strokes can be prevented."

See also:

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