Drug combo decreases likelihood of stroke for those already at risk

For patients who have already suffered a mini-stroke, or transient ischemic attack (TIA), administering a combination of aspirin and clopidogrel (Plavix), both anti-clotting drugs, may be more effective than aspirin alone, Medical News Today reported.

A TIA occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is temporarily blocked by a clot that naturally disperses within a matter of minutes. Among people who suffer a TIA, 10 to 20 percent go on to experience another stroke within three months.

Typically, doctors treat TIA sufferers with aspirin to prevent further clotting. However, in a study of 5,170 patients admitted to the hospital after suffering a TIA, researchers found that treating patients with a combination of aspirin and clopidogrel in the 24 hours after their attack  may be more effective.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that the two-drug combination reduced the risk of future stroke by nearly a third during the three months following a TIA, when compared to patients treated with only aspirin.

Overall, 8.2 percent of patients receiving a combination of the two drugs suffered further strokes, compared to 11.7 percent of the group that received only aspirin, Medical News Today reported.

While this combination of drugs had previously proven effective at reducing the risk for blood clots among heart attack patients, there hadn’t been enough evidence to show that it also worked for stroke patients.

The phase 3 clinical study was conducted in China, in partnership with S. Claiborne Johnston, a professor of neurology and associate vice chancellor of research at University of California - San Francisco (UCSF). In a statement, Johnston said, "the results were striking".