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Stroke treatment 'does not work'

A drug that lowers blood pressure and is given to people immediately after they suffer a stroke does not work and might hurt them, a study has found.

Researchers in Norway said their work means doctors should stop giving candesartan to stroke patients and people should not be given it for a week after a stroke. Most stroke victims are not given blood pressure drugs but in the most serious cases it is a suggested treatment.

Having elevated blood pressure after a stroke might actually help a patient get better, said Professor Tony Rudd, who is a stroke expert and works at Guys and St Thomas' NHS Trust in central London.

He said it could be a way the body reacts to the stroke, boosting the supply of blood to the part of the brain being damaged

Professor Rudd added: 'It's now very helpful to hear that this drug is not beneficial and may be harmful. It gives us guidance that we should not be treating high blood pressure after a stroke.'

The study is part of the Scandinavian Candesartan Acute Stroke Trial and has been published in The Lancet medical journal. The researchers have also presented their work in Los Angeles in the US, at the International Stroke Conference.

The authors said: 'Our results showed no beneficial effect of blood pressure lowering treatment with the angiotensin-receptor blocker candesartan in patients with acute stroke and raised blood pressure. Other trials are ongoing, but until these trials have been completed we see no place for routine blood pressure lowering treatment in the acute phase of stroke.'

Copyright © Press Association 2011

The Lancet