DALLAS, May 7 -- The balloon procedure routinely used to unblock clogged arteries in the heart to prevent heart attacks shows promise for opening narrowed blood vessels in the brain that can lead to stroke, researchers report today in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
The angioplasty balloon procedure opened blocked arteries in 91 percent of the study participants, says lead researcher Michael P. Marks, M.D., of the Stanford Stroke Center in Stanford, Calif. The 23 individuals in the study were between the ages of 31 to 84 and were treated at the Stanford University Medical Center. Ten of the patients had prior strokes and the other patients had severe blockages in the brain arteries.
"Our study, which is the first to follow patients for up to three years, also seems to indicate that angioplasty reduces risk of stroke. However, larger studies are needed to confirm that finding," says Marks, associate professor of radiology and director of neuroradiology at the Stanford Stroke Center.
Balloon angioplasty may prove as effective in preventing stroke as it has in preventing heart attacks because the procedure treats the same disease process. Both strokes and heart attacks are caused by the fatty-plaque obstructions, called atherosclerosis, that impair blood flow in arteries and blood vessels of the heart and brain. The American Heart Association says a total of 660,000 angioplasty procedures are conducted in the United States to reduce the risk of heart attack in people whose heart arteries are obstructed by atherosclerosis.
Because angioplasty to prevent stroke is an experimental procedure, relatively few people are receiving this therapy. Previous studies have included a small series of patients who were followed for a limited period of time.
"Although this procedure can be performed for stroke with a high degree of
technical success, there is still a risk associated with the procedure," Marks
says. "It should b
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association