College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

Drug study aids stroke

Anti-depressants may help stroke patients recover, according to a new study.

An analysis of 52 studies, involving 4,000 people, showed the drugs could reduce disability as well as depression.

However, researchers said they did not yet understand exactly how the drugs helped the brain recover.

Promising results

Many small studies have investigated the benefits of anti-depressants in stroke patients, but the results have ranged widely.

This latest analysis brings all the earlier research together to try to find out if there is an effect.

The results show that giving antidepressants to stroke patients could reduce dependence, physical disability, depression and anxiety in the first year after a stroke.

Antidepressants have been successfully used for many years to relieve depression. However, it now appears that they also have effects on the brain that may help patients make a better recovery from the physical effects of stroke.

Dr Gillian MeadProfessor of Stroke and Elderly Care Medicine at the University

Further trials

Thorough trials involving large numbers of stroke patients are still needed to determine if the drugs should be given to patients.

Dr Dale Webb, from the Stroke Association charity, said: "There are now over a million people living in the UK with the disabling effects of stroke.

"With death rates from stroke declining, it's increasingly important to find new treatments to help survivors make their best possible recovery."

He said the results were "very encouraging" but were still "a long way off" offering these drugs to stroke patients.