Ingalls Stroke Center Research:

Clinical Trial Shows Second Stroke or Heart Attack Stopped By Diabetes Drug

There’s good news for the nearly 14 million people worldwide who suffer a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) every year: a diabetes drug can help prevent repeat strokes and heart attacks.

A recent clinical trial investigated the type 2 diabetes drug Actos and its role in preventing recurrent stroke or heart attack in non-diabetic patients with insulin resistance who recently suffered a stroke or TIA.

The results of the landmark IRIS Stroke Prevention Study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine and sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

Our very own Ingalls Stroke Center, headed by Medical Director Engin Yilmaz, M.D., played an important role in the five-year investigation by actively recruiting and enrolling patients that fit the study’s very specific criteria. In fact, Ingalls was the only hospital in the South Suburbs, and one of only 100 hospitals nationwide, to participate in the IRIS trial.

“The study results were presented at the International Stroke Conference in February and offer a promising new approach,” Dr. Yilmaz explains.

Researchers from the Yale School of Medicine, who led the investigation, say it’s the first time a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes has been effective in patients with insulin resistance, which signals an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

“Over time, insulin resistance may lead to atherosclerosis, the same blood vessel disease that causes most strokes and heart attacks,” Dr. Yilmaz said. “Preventing these events was a major goal of the study.”

IRIS researchers found that Actos reduced the risk of stroke by nearly 25 percent when added to standard preventive care. What’s more, it cut the risk of diabetes in half, reduced blood sugar and inflammation, and helped manage fats within the body.

Know the Warning Signs of Stroke

Do you know the warning signs of a stroke? You can spot a stroke F.A.S.T. by knowing these signs:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911

A stroke occurs when blood vessels carrying oxygen and other nutrients to a specific part of the brain suddenly burst or become blocked. When the oxygen supply is cut off, brain cells begin to die.

There are several unavoidable risk factors for stroke, including age, heredity, race and gender.

Stroke risk factors you can change, control or have treated include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, physical inactivity and obesity, artery disease in the neck, arms and legs, atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder and other heart disease such as cardiomyopathy, valve disease and congenital heart defects.

For more information or to calculate your risk of stroke, visit Ingalls.org/MyHealth and click on StrokeAware.

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