Adding Blood Thinners to Clot-Busting Meds Won't Improve Stroke Outcomes: Study

By   |  February 8, 2024

By Dennis Thompson HealthDay Reporter  |  Copyright © 2024 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

THURSDAY, Feb. 8, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Adding blood thinners to clot-busting drugs does not improve outcomes for stroke patients, a new study claims.

Doctors had hoped that combining the two types of medications would improve treatment of stroke, as a similar combination has shown promise in treating heart attacks, the researchers said.

But they halted a clinical trial looking into the combo for stroke treatment after finding no apparent benefit for the first 500 participants out of the planned 1,200-patient study.

The findings were presented Wednesday at the American Stroke Association’s annual meeting in Phoenix.

“When we began the trial, we believed the medications would improve outcomes, so we were surprised with the negative results,” said lead researcher Dr. Opeolu Adeoye, chair of emergency medicine at Washington University's School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The clinical trial involved 57 different stroke centers throughout the United States.

All patients received a standard clot-busting drug within three hours of their stroke. They then were randomized to receive one of two blood thinners or a placebo drip of saline.

Clot-busting drugs activate an enzyme that breaks up a blood clot, while blood thinners inhibit the action of clotting factors in the blood.

“We designed the trial to allow us to efficiently answer the question for two blood-thinning medications in one trial,” Adeoye said in a meeting news release.

Results did show that the combination was safe, and it did not increase the risk of brain bleeding.

Unfortunately, three months after treatment those patients that received the combo weren’t doing any better than patients who only got a clot buster, researchers said.

Patients taking the blood thinner argatroban averaged 5.2 on a 10-point disability scale, and those who got the blood thinner eptifibatide averaged 6.3.

In comparison, those who got a clot buster alone averaged 6.8 on the disability scale, indicating they got the best benefit from their overall treatment.

Researchers said studies are underway to determine whether blood thinners could help prior to surgery to remove a stroke-related blood clot, if the thinners are delivered directly to the affected artery.

Because this research was presented at a medical meeting, it should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The Cleveland Clinic has more about clot-busting drugs.

SOURCE: American Stroke Association, news release, Feb. 7, 2024