Uric acid reduces stroke disability in women

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published January 5, 2016

Key Takeaways

Women given uric acid plus anti-clotting therapy after stroke fared better than women given anti-clotting therapy alone, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

In the study, 42% of women treated with intravenous uric acid therapy in the hours following a stroke had little to no disability after 90 days, compared with 29% of women treated with a placebo. Women also had less dead tissue resulting from lack of blood supply after receiving uric acid.

Men, on the other hand, experienced essentially no difference between uric acid treatment and placebo.

In this study, researchers re-analyzed 2014 data based on URICO-ICTUS, a randomized, double-blind trial of patients admitted to stroke centers in Spain. Participants included 206 women and 205 men. All participants were given thrombolytic anti-clotting therapy, while half in each gender group were also given either 1,000 mg of uric acid or a placebo through IV infusion. 

Although uric acid is associated with gout attacks as well as renal and vascular problems, it is also a potent antioxidant that prevents the formation of free radicals that can result when a brain artery is blocked, explained lead author Ángel Chamorro, MD, PhD, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center, at Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, Spain.

“While high levels of uric acid can lead to other health problems, uric acid also helps protect tissue from harmful molecules known as free radicals," he said. “Women fare better with uric acid therapy because they tend to have less uric acid in their bodies,” he said. Lower uric acid levels in women may also explain why women have more disability after stroke than men.

Women in the study were, on average, 7 years older than the men, and they were more likely to have irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and other conditions. As younger, healthier stroke victims are treated, the results should be even more impressive, Dr. Chamorro said. 

But more data are needed before uric acid becomes standard clinical practice, he added.

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