`Muscle cramp drug better than aspirin in preventing strokes`

Updated: Sep 12, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: A drug to ease cramps is more effective than aspirin in preventing a stroke and has fewer side-effects, a recent study says. Researchers discovered that the drug cilostazol reduced the risk of a stroke by a quarter and the risk of dangerous side-effects by a half in patients.

The findings are significant as millions of people take a low dose of aspirin daily, which is known to reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, especially if people have already had one, reports the Telegraph.

Taking cilostazol, a drug which prevents clotting and is used to treat muscle cramps, instead would not only be more powerful but also reduce the risk of haemorrhage - one of the major dangers of taking aspirin.

Study authors Deepak Bhatt and Dharam Kumbhani of the Harvard Medical School, said the trial suggested that cilostazol offered "prevention beyond the protection provided by aspirin".

In the study 2,757 patients who had already suffered a stroke were split into two roughly equal groups - one of which was given aspirin and the other cilostazol for as long as five years.

During the trial it was found that 2.76 percent of the cilostazol group suffered a stroke compared to 3.71 percent of the aspirin group - a 26 percent reduction.

Stroke is the third most common cause of death in Britain, after heart disease and cancer. An estimated 150,000 people have a stroke in the country each year, of which 67,000 die.

IANS