Scientists in Great Britain say they may have found a new Ultrasound Therapy to prevent strokes in high-risk patients. Using an ultrasound scan of the carotid artery in the neck, the scientists have published their initial findings in the journal Stroke. Study leader Donald Singer, a professor at Warwick Medical School, said the study used ultrasound scanning to look at patients with carotid artery disease, one of the major causes of stroke.
Clots that lead to strokes can form on diseased carotid arteries in the neck and small parts of these clots can released to form microemboli, which can travel to block key brain arteries. The resulting stroke can lead to weakness, disturbed speech, loss of vision and other serious symptoms, including death. The study has concluded that standard anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin may not prevent the formation of harmful microemboli.
Ultrasound scanning could be used to find patients at very high risk of stroke because microemboli have formed despite prior anti-platelet drugs. Using scanning, the team has found that tirofiban, another anti-platelet drug designed to inhibit the formation of blood clots, can suppress microemboli where previous treatments were ineffective. The use of ultrasound therapy is less therapy and more of an investigation into existent risk factors and whether or not existing treatments are actually working.
“These findings show that the choice of rescue medicine is very important when carotid patients develop microemboli despite previous treatment with powerful anti-platelet drugs such as aspirin. We now need to go on to further studies of anti-microemboli rescue treatments, to aim for the right balance between protection and risk for our patients.” If further studies verify the initial results, it could lead to a much greater demand for ultrasound technology.