Lead author Dr. William Meurer, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said if a patient taking aspirin has a stroke caused by a clot in the brain, some emergency teams might hesitate to give a powerful clot-busting medication tPA -- for fear that the combination of drugs might cause dangerous brain bleeding.
However, a study by the University of Michigan Stroke Program suggests this fear may be unfounded for some.
The study involved 830 stroke patients who received tPA at any of the 28 Michigan hospitals that took part in two studies. Just under half of them were on aspirin or clopidogrel, sold as Plavix, before they had their strokes.
After adjusting for patients' other characteristics, the researchers found no significant difference in the rate of brain bleeding seen on the patients' brain scans -- even low-level bleeding that didn't cause symptoms, Meurer said.
The study did not include any patients taking more potent blood thinners, such as warfarin, heparin, Pradaxa or Xarelto and the authors cautioned the potential use of tPA in patients taking these drugs needs more study.
The findings were published in Academic Emergency Medicine.
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