-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Feb. 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Giving magnesium to
stroke patients while they're being taken to the hospital does not
reduce the severity of their disabilities three months later, a new
Paramedics gave magnesium intravenously to 1,700 stroke patients
in California to try to protect their brain cells from the effects
of oxygen deprivation. The average time for starting magnesium
treatment was 45 minutes after stroke symptoms began, and 74
percent of the patients were started on the treatment within an
hour, the study authors noted.
The magnesium was safe, but did not provide any benefits, the
researchers found. Ninety days after their stroke, the patients had
slight to moderate levels of disability and required assistance to
do many of their previous activities, according to findings
presented Thursday at the American Stroke Association's
International Stroke Conference in San Diego.
Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
In animal studies, magnesium was found to widen blood vessels in
the brain and increase blood flow, offsetting the dangerous calcium
build-up that occurs in cells that are starved of oxygen.
Earlier, small trials with patients showed that giving magnesium
up to 12 hours after a stroke caused neither harm nor benefit.
However, there were signs that magnesium might be helpful to those
who received it within a few hours after their stroke.
"We hoped magnesium would be beneficial, but in any case the study was a success in demonstrating we can get a drug to patients in this early time frame when there is the greatest amount of threatened brain tissue that might still be saved," principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Saver, director of the stroke center at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a stroke association news release.
"There are lots of other promising agents in the pipeline that could be helpful, and we now have a system for testing and using them," he added.
Currently, the clot-busting drug tPA is the only immediate
treatment for ischemic strokes, which are caused by blocked blood
flow. But this drug can't be given until patients undergo brain
scans to determine the nature of their stroke.
"Giving tPA in the ambulance before brain imaging is not an option -- it could harm patients having a bleeding type of stroke. Neuroprotective drugs can be delivered in the field as they are safe for both types of stroke," Saver explained in the news release.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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