September 28, 2001
New Benefits of Blood Pressure Lowering Treatments for
Millions of Stroke Sufferers
- A landmark six-year study of more than 6,000 stroke sufferers
worldwide has discovered large benefits of blood pressure lowering
treatments, even for people without high blood pressure.
Researchers reported reductions of one-quarter to one-half in the risk of
further strokes and heart attacks among stroke patients from Europe, Asia
and Australasia, given blood pressure lowering treatment based on the ACE
inhibitor drug, perindopril.
Results from 'PROGRESS'* published today in The Lancet show that one in
every eleven stroke sufferers given perindopril together with another drug,
indapamide, avoided either death, heart attack or further stroke over five
years of treatment.
One of the study's chief investigators, Dr. Stephen MacMahon from the
Institute for International Health at the University of Sydney, Australia,
said, "The results provide clear evidence of major health gains for these
high risk patients. If the findings are applied widely, many millions of
stroke sufferers worldwide would be spared unnecessary suffering."
World health statistics indicate that about five million people die from
stroke every year and at least 15 million others suffer non-fatal strokes
that are frequently disabling. About one in six survivors will suffer
another stroke or heart attack within five
The study chairman, Professor John Chalmers also from The University of
Sydney, described the study results as "a huge step forward." "It was
thought that blood pressure lowering drugs were only useful for patients
with high blood pressure, but we have shown that perindopril and indapamide
have beneficial effects, not only for those with high blood pressure, but
also for the much larger number of stroke patients with normal blood
pressure," said Chalmers. More than two-thirds of all strokes occur in
people who do not have high blood pressure as defined by World Health
At present, blood pressure lowering drugs are given to only a minority of
people who suffer a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (mini-stroke).
"There is a strong case for making this treatment available to most stroke
patients, irrespective of their age and blood pressure and irrespective of
the other treatments they may be receiving," said MacMahon. "The benefits
are unusually large and occur in a wide range of patients. There were very
At present, aspirin is the only treatment given widely to
patients after stroke, but it is not suitable for people who have suffered
some particularly dangerous types of stroke, such as cerebral haemorrhage.
In PROGRESS, perindopril and indapamide together reduced the risk of stroke
by three-quarters among patients who had previously suffered a cerebral