New Treatment for Stroke Set to Increase Chances of Recovery

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A landmark study has revealed a new way to treat intracerebral hemorrhage which stands to help millions of people worldwide.

The George Institute for Global Health study found that intensive blood pressure lowering in patients with intracerebral hemorrhage, the most serious type of stroke, reduced the risk of major disability and improved chances of recovery by as much as 20 percent.

The study—which involved more than 2,800 patients from 140 hospitals around the world—was announced today at the European Stroke Conference in London, and published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Intracerebral hemorrhage kills 30 – 60 percent of sufferers and leaves 50 percent of survivors disabled.

Study lead and neurologist, professor Craig Anderson of The George Institute and The University of Sydney, said the study challenges previous thought about blood pressure lowering in intracerebral hemorrhage.

"The study findings will mean significant changes to guidelines for stroke management worldwide. They show that early intensive blood pressure lowering, using widely available therapies, can significantly improve the outcome of this illness.

"We hope to see hospital emergency departments around the world implement the new treatment as soon as possible; it's a safe and efficient alternative to improve the likelihood of a recovery without serious disability.

"The only treatment option to date has been risky brain surgery, so this research is a very welcome advance," Professor Anderson said.

The study found patients who suffered an acute intracerebral hemorrhage and received the blood pressure-lowering treatment were better off from both a physical and psychological perspective.

Global Study Director, Dr Emma Heeley of The George Institute, said the findings highlight the need to get to hospital as quickly as possible if a stroke is suspected.

"The sooner a medical team is able to lower the patient's blood pressure, the greater their chances of leaving hospital with a good outcome," Dr Heeley said.