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September 28, 2001

New Benefits of Blood Pressure Lowering Treatments for Millions of Stroke Sufferers


(SafetyAlerts) -  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 Organization standards.

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 few side-effects."

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 haemorrhage.

Source: PRNewswire.

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