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Stroke drug could be used more widely

A drug that breaks up blood clots in the brains of stroke patients could be used more widely than at present without increased risk, a brain scan study suggests. The drug - called alteplase - is the only treatment for stroke caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet Neurology, was funded by the Medical Research Council.

Professor Joanna Wardlaw, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, who led the study, said: "Bleeding in the brain is the main side effect of alteplase, so if we can avoid that hazard, then patients are more likely to benefit. Previous studies have not looked at pre-existing signs of damage nor considered analysing multiple signs in combination, yet having multiple and old signs are both very common in patients with stroke."