February 21, 2011

Drug Replaces Aspirin for Stroke Prevention?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- There's a new way to prevent stroke, and it may be more effective than aspirin, according to new research.

Investigators presenting at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference found the drug apixaban, a new anti-clotting agent, worked better than aspirin at preventing stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) who were unable to take stronger drugs. AF is a heartbeat abnormality that can cause blood clots, which can raise the risk of stroke.

Researchers studied 5,600 patients with AF who had a moderate to high risk of stroke and were not willing or able to take oral drugs like warfarin. Up to 50 percent of all patients with AF with moderate or high risk of stroke are unsuitable for treatment with therapies like warfarin. Investigators found oral doses of apixaban were superior to aspirin in preventing stroke in these patients.

"If validated by future studies, I think this is the end of aspirin as a drug to prevent stroke in patients with AF," Hans-Christoph Diener, M.D., professor and chairman, Department of Neurology and Stroke Center, University Hospital Essen in Germany, was quoted as saying.

Specifically, the investigators found 51 strokes or systemic embolism events in the 2,808 patients taking apixaban compared to 113 strokes and systemic embolic events in the 2,791 patients taking aspirin.

"Apixaban was highly superior to aspirin," Diener said. "We had not anticipated that apixaban would show such a big difference compared with aspirin while showing no significant increase in major bleeds. Everyone had expected that a more powerful drug like apixaban would be associated with more severe bleeding complications compared to aspirin, but it wasn't."

SOURCE: American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2011, Feb. 20, 2011