UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Could MRI scans be used to reduce risk of stroke patients suffering deadly brain bleeds?

16 May 2018

A study published today in Lancet Neurology, led by UCL Institute of Neurology, finds blood-sensitive MRI scans can be used to better predict a stroke patient’s risk of deadly brain bleeds.

stroke MRI

These findings, which were simultaneously presented at the European Stroke Organisation Conference by Professor David Werring, could help better inform treatment decisions about blood thinners for up to around 20,000 patients with stroke who are found to have an irregular heartbeat each year in the UK. MRI scans could help reveal whether stroke survivors will face a higher risk of deadly brain bleeds if prescribed "blood thinners” (anticoagulants).

Many stroke survivors take blood thinners to manage an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation; AF), but prior evidence has shown that blood thinners could increase the risk of subsequent brain bleeds in certain patients; this study has identified a way of better predicting which patients would be at risk of brain bleeds, by looking for cerebral microbleeds - tiny brain bleeds seen on blood-sensitive MRI scans.

The study was jointly funded by The Stroke Association and the British Heart Foundation.

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