Existing heart disease and angina drugs show promise for stroke and dementia

Existing heart disease and angina drugs show promise for stroke and dementia


Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Professor Joanna Wardlaw (Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences and ) and colleagues have published a study investigating treatments for prevention of the recurrence of stroke and dementia caused by damage to small blood vessels in the brain, which is responsible for approximately a quarter of strokes, and is also a cause of memory problems and dementia.

The drugs, called cilostazol and isosorbide mononitrate, which are already in use for heart disease and angina, were tested for the first time in the UK for the treatment of stroke or vascular dementia, in 57 patients who had experienced a stroke caused by damaged small blood vessels, known as a lacunar stroke.

The patients completed health questionnaires and had regular blood pressure checks, blood tests and brain scans. Findings indicated that the two treatments, which were given either individually or in combination for up to nine weeks, were safe for use in stroke patients, at least in the short term. In addition, there were signs that the treatments helped improve blood vessel function in the arms and brain, and may improve thinking skills, although further studies are needed to test this.

Lead researcher Professor Joanna Wardlaw said “We are delighted that the results of this trial show promise for treating a common cause of stroke and the commonest cause of vascular dementia, since currently there are no effective treatments. Further trials are underway.”

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, added: “There hasn’t been a new drug for dementia for 15 years, so finding evidence that these cheap existing drugs could prevent dementia after a stroke would be a huge breakthrough. It’s promising to see that these two drugs are safe to use and we’ll be excited to see the results of the next stage of testing in a couple of years, which will show whether these drugs can be an effective treatment.