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Heart drugs 'hide stroke from brain'

21st June 2006

Heart drugs could help to protect the brain during a stroke, claims new research.

Initial findings suggest that the common heart drugs, digoxin and digitoxin, could provide vital protection for patients during a stroke and scientists are hopeful that it could lead to a new anti-stroke treatment.

The American study, conducted at the Center for Drug Discovery at Duke Medical Centre in the US, discovered that the drugs are capable of protecting vital neurons contained in rats' brains. The laboratory work also suggests that the drugs could be effective even if administrated over six hours after the initial signs of a stroke.

"This discovery is exciting because it may lead to interventions to prevent or lessen the amount of brain damage suffered after stroke," explained Donald Lo, the primary investigator of the study.

The findings are published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and could eventually prevent stroke suffers from developing brain damage that causes loss of basic language skills and cognitive abilities.