A drug used for relief from heavy periods could treat patients with strokes caused by brain bleeds, say experts.
According to a report published by BBC, a trial in The Lancet found tranexamic acid stemmed bleeding and reduced the risk of death in the early days following a haemorrhagic stroke.
Up to a fifth of strokes are bleeds and account for nearly a half of all stroke deaths worldwide.
Carolyn Danby was 32 when she had a stroke. She had been out Christmas shopping at the time. “I felt almost a bit of a head rush,” she says. “I didn’t quite feel right.”
She says she went to pick up a gift bag with her left hand. “I couldn’t grasp it,” she says. “I knew something was wrong. I felt like I was drunk really. My left leg started to drag. I was panicking.”
She tried to ask for help, but the words wouldn’t come out.
“I was trying to say, ‘Please help me, something is wrong’,” she says. “I could say it in my head, but I just couldn’t say it.”
At the hospital, an emergency scan revealed Danby had a bleed on her brain. The hospital offered her the option to take part in the tranexamic acid trial. She accepted. She still doesn’t know if she received the drug itself or a dummy injection, but she has made a good recovery.
Half of the 2,325 people who took part in the trial were given tranexamic acid and the other half were given a placebo. This was done so that the researchers could reliably measure what effect the treatment had.
Researcher Dr Nikola Sprigg, from the University of Nottingham, said: “Tranexamic acid is a drug that has been around for a long time. It’s effective in other bleeding conditions.” It is already used (in tablets) for treating heavy periods and (by injection) for controlling dangerous bleeding during childbirth or severe trauma.
Less bleeding should mean less damage and disability, and fewer deaths. But the study did not find any difference between the two patient groups on these measures at three months.
“Future work is going to need to focus on getting patients to hospital quicker and getting the treatment quicker – probably within three or four hours,” Prof Sprigg said.
Know the signs of a stroke:
Face – has it fallen on one side?
Arms – can they be raised?
Speech – is it slurred?
Time – if you notice any of these dial 999
A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, either by a blood clot blocking the supply or a bleed. It’s a medical emergency that needs immediate attention. The sooner somebody who is having a stroke receives help, the better their chances of a good recovery.
This article originally appeared here