Lifestyle changes encouraged

A national clinical trial, sponsored by the National Institute for Health (NIH) and carried out on 450 high risk stroke patients nationwide, commenced with the theory that placing brain stents into patients with considerable narrowing of major arteries would be beneficial. It was believed that these stroke patients would get more blood into their brains and would reduce their chances of having a second stroke. But that theory was not proven.

Medical News Today reports that the enrollment into this study program was abruptly halted when the researchers realized what was occurring. Patients who received the brain stents proved to be slightly more than twice as likely to have a second stroke or die within 30 days of the procedure as those that did not receive the stents; 15% versus 6% for those that did not receive the stent procedure. And of those stent patients 20.5% had a stroke or died within a year versus 11.5% for those patients who did not receive the procedure.

The NIH has issued a warning to patients and doctors: Physicians should be more aggressive with blood thinners and hypertensive and cholesterol lowering drugs and patients should be advised to change their lifestyles. That might prove a bit difficult at a point where the patient has already lost a great deal of blood flow to the brain and/or had a stroke.

With the recommendation from the NIH that these patients get aggressive medication treatment adherence will be critical. These patients and their caregivers are going to need a reliable way of remembering when and how much of maybe several different medications to take and when to take them. Left on their own, these patients, with potentially diminished memory retention, will need a way to keep them on track toward a program of strict medication adherence.  What other choice is there?

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