New treatment for stroke linked to dementia

5 November 2015        

Illustration of stroke

Today we’re announcing an £850,000 grant to researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh, Nottingham, and collaborators, to trial a new treatment for a type of stroke affecting around 35,000 people in the UK each year. 

Thanks to your donations, Professor Joanna Wardlaw and team are carrying out a clinical trial to find a new treatment for people who have suffered a lacunar stroke.

A lacunar stroke is caused by damage to one of the small vessels deep within the brain that affects the flow of blood and can lead to long-term disability. It accounts for around one in four strokes and researchers also believe it could be an underlying cause of at least 40 per cent of all dementias

There is currently no proven treatment for a lacunar stroke and existing anti-clotting treatments for stroke, including aspirin, may even be harmful. 

Using old drugs for new purposes

In the three-year long trial, around 200 patients will be treated with either cilostazol, isosorbide mononitrate or both, which are two drugs currently used to treat angina and peripheral vascular disease. By performing MRI scans on people taking part in the trial, Professor Wardlaw and colleagues will monitor whether the drugs have an effect on the small vessels of the brain. If successful, the research could identify new ways of treating lacunar stroke and potentially prevent some forms of dementia. 

Talking about her research, Professor Wardlaw said: “There is a strong link between lacunar stroke and dementia. This trial is important as it’s one of the first looking into treatments of this type of stroke.” This repurposed drug research could help prevent people from developing dementia following stroke. 

Agnes and her story

Agnes Nicolson from Edinburgh suffered from a lacunar stroke five years ago. She said: “After having a stroke, I’ll forget words which can be incredibly frustrating. I do worry about the future. It’s great to see that the BHF are funding research that could help people recover more fully from this type of stroke in the future.”

Talking about the importance of this study, Dr Shannon Amoils, our Senior Research Advisor, said: “There are currently no proven treatments for lacunar stroke. This trial aims to lay the foundations for a larger, more definitive study.” 

Future research into stroke 

As part of our new research strategy, we plan to help more stroke sufferers by increasing our funding for important clinical trials like this one. However, we will only be able to fund this research with the continued support of the public and our loyal supporters.

Help us to continue funding crucial stroke research.