New Delhi: Many lives are lost due to intense bleeding after an accident and treatment given within an hour is most critical. A common drug can effectively reduce the bleeding and bring down mortality by 10 percent. Sold under many names, tranexamic acid is widely available in India.
According to a study published in reputed international medical journal The Lancet, tranexamic acid, which is an easily available and cheap drug, can reduce heavy bleeding and haemorrhage.
"Tranexamic acid is not a new molecule; it was being used for controlling haemorrhage and bleeding but there was no scientific evidence," Yashbir Dewan, one of the lead researchers for the study from India, told a news agency.
"After this study, its utility has been proved," he added.
"Bleeding is stopped when blood clots. This natural process is disturbed post-accident or due to other reasons and a person starts bleeding heavily," said Dewan.
"Tranexamic acid helps in making blood clot, reducing blood loss."
It has been used to treat heavy menstrual periods - but only recently with the completion of the large international CRASH-2 trial has it become known that it can save lives in severe traumatic bleeding.
Trials were performed in 40 countries, involving 20,211 adult trauma patients at risk of significant bleeding who were randomly assigned to either tranexamic acid or a placebo within eight hours of injury.
Over 4,760 patients and their families in India participated.
"Giving tranexamic acid to patients within the first hour of injury could save the lives of 12,500 patients every year," said Dewan, who is senior consultant head of neuro surgery department at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, and secretary of the Neurotrauma Society of India.
First published in The Lancet last June, the trial found that administration of tranexamic acid reduced mortality by around 10 percent.
In the latest analysis, it was found that early treatment within an hour of injury reduced the risk of death due to bleeding by more than 30 percent.
"Treatment given between one and three hours cut the risk of bleeding to death by 20 percent but there was no benefit if treatment was delayed beyond three or four hours," he said.
According to Dewan, the medicine is safe even for those suffering from high blood pressure or heart problems.
"As it assists clotting, there may be worries about its use for heart patients or high blood pressure patients, but it is safe for them," he said.
Dewan added that Fortis has decided to take the medicine as an emergency drug which will be present in all its ambulances.
"We have written to the Director General of Health Services to issue a notification and make it an emergency drug which has to be present in all ambulances; we are also writing to WHO (World Health Organisation)," he added.