A medication that is often used to treat strokes has been called “safe and effective” by a panel of independent experts.
Concerns had been raised over the safety of alteplase – an injectable drug which clears blood clots – which is given to stroke patients within the first four-and-a-half hours.
By breaking down blood clots, alteplase helps restore blood flow to areas of the brain that have been affected by a stroke. This reduces the risk of long-term disability.
The UK Medicines watchdog called for an independent review after claims that the benefits did not outweigh the dangers. An increased risk of dangerous bleeding in the brain is among the reported side effects of alteplase.
However, the UK’s Commission on Human Medicines, chaired by Professor Sir Ian Weller, concluded: “The evidence shows that for every 100 patients treated with alteplase, whilst there is an early risk of a fatal bleed in two patients, after three to six months, around 10 more in every 100 are disability-free when treated within three hours.”
People with diabetes face a greater risk of stroke, but maintaining good control of the condition can increase your chances of preventing a stroke.
Keeping blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure within target ranges is important, as is maintaining a healthy BMI. Other factors that increase the risk of stroke include smoking, excessive alcohol intake and a family history of stroke.

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