A Difference in Chemistry
Uric acid may lessen women’s disability after stroke
Uric acid — a chemical that at high levels can lead to serious illness — may lessen women’s disability after stroke, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.
High levels of uric acid can lead to kidney stones or the inflammatory arthritic condition known as gout, and are linked with heart and vascular problems and diabetes. However, in this study, 42 percent of women treated with uric acid therapy following a stroke had little to no disability after 90 days compared to 29 percent of women treated with a placebo. Women also had less dead brain tissue resulting from lack of blood supply after receiving uric acid. Among men, there was essentially no difference between uric acid treatment and placebo.
“Women fare better with uric acid therapy because they tend to have less uric acid in their bodies,” said Ángel Chamorro, M.D., Ph.D., study lead author and director of Barcelona’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, Hospital Clinic Chamorro. “While high levels of uric acid can lead to other health problems, uric acid also helps protect tissue from free radicals.”
Researchers re-analyzed 2014 data based on a randomized, double-blind trial of patients admitted to stroke centers in Spain. Participants included 206 women and 205 men. All were given therapies to remove the clots, while half in each gender group were also given either 1000 mg of uric acid therapy or a placebo through IV infusion.
In ischemic stroke, a clot lodges in an artery supplying oxygen to the brain. When doctors remove the clot, oxygen re-enters the brain, but it also releases free radicals, which may damage surrounding tissue.
Uric acid counteracts the release of the free radicals, minimizing the damage.
Women in the study were, on average, seven years older than the men, and they were more likely to have irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and other conditions. As younger, healthier stroke patients are treated, the results should be even more impressive, Chamorro said. While this study showed promising findings, the results need to be confirmed by doing other studies.