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NZ Team In Stroke Breakthrough

$30m clinical trial succeeds in reducing stroke and heart attack

Auckland, 11 July 2001: An Auckland University team of scientists has won international recognition for a new treatment that dramatically improves outcomes for people at risk of stroke or heart attack.

Worldwide, more than 40 million people are now living with the effects of a stroke and many millions more have had a “mini-stroke” transient ischaemic attack (TIA). Victims of a first attack remain at high risk, with one in five suffering another stroke or a heart attack within five years.

The study found patients taking an ACE inhibitor drug, perindopril, together with a diuretic indapamide reduced their risk of a second stroke or related heart attack by 25–50 percent.

The $30m trial was initiated at the Clinical Trials Research Unit (CTRU) at the University of Auckland, with a contract managed by Auckland UniServices Limited.

“Many stroke victims can now be spared unnecessary suffering,“ said Dr Anthony Rodgers, Co-Director of the CTRU, confirming the results of PROGRESS, or the Perindopril Protection Against Recurrent Stroke Study. “This is the first treatment that is both highly effective and applicable to the vast majority of patients”

“Involving over 6000 patients in Europe, Asia and Australasia at 172 hospitals for six years was a major undertaking,” said Rochelle Currie, the Project Manager. The trial was New Zealand’s biggest health research contract, and the first anywhere in the world to include both large European and Asian populations in a study of a cerebrovascular disease.

Announced in Milan to the European Society of Hypertension, the Auckland team’s findings have been hailed as a breakthrough by medical researchers and were reported by CNN, The New York Times, and leading European and Asian news organisations.

The research was supported by grants from France’s Institut de Recherches Internationales Servier, the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia.

About 18,000 New Zealanders are now living with the effects of a stroke, a number expected to double over the next two decades.

Ends

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