Painkiller could help save lives after strokes
Treating stroke patients with antibiotics and the commonly- used painkiller paracetamol could save up to 25,000 lives across Europe each year, according to researchers.
A €5.7m study will investigate whether routinely offering these drugs to people who have just suffered a stroke would help to prevent complications such as infection and fever.
Stroke is the second leading cause of death around the world and accounts for the loss of almost seven million lives each year. It is also the second most common cause of long-term disability.
Researchers say up to half of stroke patients suffer high temperatures following their illness and a third contract infections that increase their risk of death and disability.
Around a quarter of patients have difficulty swallowing and face an increased risk of choking as a result.
The study, which will involve 4,000 patients from around Europe, will test whether offering the relatively low-cost drugs immediately following a stroke would reduce the risk of these complications occurring.
Patients aged 66 or older will be randomly allocated to receive either preventative treatment in the first four days of their hospitalisation, or to standard care.
Those receiving preventative care will be offered paracetamol to prevent high fevers and antibiotics to lower the risk of infections.
The trial is led by the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.