Use of aspirin prior to stroke investigated.

Date:

24-Dec-2001

Source

Stroke

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Article

The term stroke is commonly used to describe a sudden problem with the brain that is usually related to its blood supply. A stroke, therefore, can be due to ischemia (decreased blood supply), infarction (interrupted blood supply), or hemorrhage (severe bleeding), and usually means that there is some kind of permanent problem with the nervous system.1 All three of these causes (ischemia, infarction, or hemorrhage) would be due to cerebrovascular disease (disease related to the blood supply to the brain).

Cerebrovascular disease can be described as any disease affecting the blood vessels, blood flow, or quality of the blood in the brain. Other terms for this disease include apoplexy or cerebrovascular accident (CVA). In the United States, the term stroke is most often used. Most strokes are caused by ischemia and infarction because of diseases of the large, small, and medium-sized arteries in the brain.

Within 10 seconds after brain blood flow stops, the brain tissue begins to fail. The electrical activity of the brain slows down, and brain function begins to be affected. If the circulation is restored immediately, brain function recovers. If the problem continues for a few minutes, injury to the nerve cells result. When the blood flow returns, the brain's recovery may not be complete. When the blood flow is interrupted for longer periods of time, the brain tissue will die.

A recent study published in the journal Stroke, investigated the use of aspirin prior to stroke. Of the 1,275 stoke victims chosen for this study, 509 patients reported using aspirin during the week before the stroke, while 766 did not. The researchers compared the severity of stroke between the two groups using the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale as well as the Supplementary Motor Examination. The comparison showed that the percentage of milder strokes were statistically more common in the aspirin users. Lower stroke severity was also more frequent among the aspirin users compared to the non-users. Although these results illustrated positive effects from aspirin use in stroke, the authors suggested that more research should be completed.2

References

1. Welty TE. Cerebrovascular Disease, In: Koda-Kimble MA, Young LY, eds. Applied Therapeutics. 5th ed. Vancouver, WA: 1992;14:1-7.
2. Wilterdink JL, et al. Effect of Prior Aspirin Use on Stroke Severity in the Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment (TOAST).Stroke. Dec 2001;32:2836.