The history and future of strokes

27th Nov 2018

Brain and Neuroscience Advances HeaderWith at least 100,000 strokes in the UK every year, research into the effects and treatments of strokes are incredibly important. This is becoming even more pressing, as the amount of people over 45 having a stroke is expected to increase by 59% in the next two decades (1).

Allen and Macrae (2018) published this detailed overview of stroke research in the BNA’s official journal ‘Brain and Neuroscience Advances’.

The article highlights how diagnostic measures have greatly improved over the past few decades, with brain imaging being able to identify the type of stroke (caused by a blood clot or a burst blood vessel) and find the exact location. After the clot has been removed or the bleed has been stopped, imaging can be used to see the extent of the damage, which is useful for revalidation.

Modern techniques have been able to help us understand strokes a lot better, by for example discovering the significant role inflammation plays in causing damage. This is then incredibly useful knowledge for developing new treatments for stroke, by testing drugs that reduce the inflammatory reaction in the brain.

The role of certain neuron types called microglia and a type of white bloods cell called monocytes is not fully understood, but are said to play a complex role in strokes.

Previously, clinical trials for treatments frequently failed for various reasons, causing many pharmaceutical companies to reduce the amount of funding spent on stroke research in the 1990s. The Stroke Therapy Academic Industry Roundtable (STAIR) and other organisations have since created a set of guidelines for stroke research, greatly improving research and making the future of stroke research promising.

Improvements so far have resulted in more people surviving strokes, meaning that research into motor, speech and cognitive problems after strokes has become even more relevant. There is a lot of research into drugs that can help with post-stroke complications, but another potential treatment is brain stimulation, which could help with repair and recovery.

To access the full review article, click here

Macrae, I.M. and Allan, S.M., 2018. Stroke: The past, present and future. Brain and Neuroscience Advances, 2 

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