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Research from this week's International Stroke Conference in New Orleans

Aspirin compliance vital

Stroke patients who stop taking their daily aspirin triple their chances of having another stroke within a month, researchers warn.

Three-quarters of strokes related to aspirin discontinuation occurred in the first eight days of stopping use. The Swiss researchers said their findings reinforced the importance of compliance with aspirin therapy.

They studied 309 patients who had suffered a recurrent ischaemic stroke after taking regular aspirin therapy and compared them with a similar number of age-matched controls who had not suffered a second stroke.

A total of 13 patients in the stroke group had stopped taking their aspirin within the previous four weeks, compared with only four patients in the controls.

Lead author Dr Patrick Michel from Lausanne University Hospital said: 'Although the absolute risk of suffering a substantial stroke during a short period of aspirin discontinuation is probably not very high, this difference is meaningful, and patients and physicians should be informed.'

?-blocker cuts severity

Patients taking betablockers may suffer from less severe strokes than those not on the drugs. Their use appeared to be an independent predictor of higher than normal neurological scores after stroke, according to the prospective study of 111 acute stroke patients. None of the other factors examined, including age, gender and history of transient ischaemic attack, was able to explain the differences.

The researchers from John Hopkins University suggested that betablockers might exert a neuroprotective effect during acute stroke by lessening platelet aggregation and vasoconstriction.

Higher HDL, less stroke

R aising HDL cholesterol could significantly reduce the risk of acute stroke. US researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine studied 7,500 patients and found that for every 1mg/dl increase in HDL cholesterol, there was a significant 0.015 per cent fall in stroke risk.

The fall in risk remained even after controlling for other risk factors. The researchers said HDL cholesterol could be a useful future therapeutic target.

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