New treatment for stroke set to increase chances of recovery

A landmark study has revealed a new way to treat intracerebral haemorrhage 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 haemorrhage, the most serious type of stroke, reduced the risk of major disability and improved chances of recovery by as much as 20 per cent.

The study, which involved more than 2800 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 haemorrhage, spontaneous bleeding within the brain most often due to hypertension, affects one million people globally each year, kills 30 – 60 per cent of sufferers and leaves 50 per cent of survivors disabled .

Study lead and neurologist, Professor Craig Anderson of The George Institute, The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, said the study challenges previous thought about blood pressure lowering in intracerebral haemorrhage.

“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.

“By lowering blood pressure, we can slow bleeding in the brain, reduce damage and enhance recovery.

“The study findings are tremendously exciting because they provide a safe and efficient treatment to improve the likelihood of a recovery without serious disability - a major concern for those who have experienced stroke.

“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 haemorrhage 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 and The University of Sydney said the findings provide new hope for stroke survivors and their families, but highlights the need to get to hospital as quickly as possible if a stroke is suspected.

“Getting someone who has had a stroke to an emergency department as fast as possible is vital to the success of this treatment.

“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.

To support The George Institute’s stroke research and help us give hope to stroke survivors, donate here.

About stroke

  • The major signs of stroke include facial weakness, arm weakness and speech or comprehension difficulties . Other signs include:
  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or legs
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or an unexplained fall
  • Loss of vision, sudden blurring or decreased vision
  • A severe headache with sudden onset
  • Difficulty speaking

For more information about the INTERACT2 trial click here