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Study raises concern over stroke surgery safety

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Surgery for treating strokes is significantly more dangerous than using medicine to treat the condition, latest research suggests.

US researchers ended the study early after patients who underwent surgery on their arteries were found to be twice as much at risk of potentially fatal events than those who were just being given drugs.

A month after beginning the trial, nearly 15% of patients who underwent angioplasty had suffered a second stroke or died compared to just under 6% of those who were only being prescribed medicine.

This trend continued for nearly 12 months, at which point 21% of surgery patients had experienced negative effects compared with 12% of the medicines group. The difference was even greater when disabling or fatal strokes were analysed, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr Shyam Prabhakaran, from Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, one of the study’s researchers, said: “This study provides an answer to the long-standing question of what to do to prevent a devastating second stroke in a high-risk population. All patients should be managed aggressively with medications.”

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