Caffeine-Alcohol Combo vs. Stroke
New Drug Containing Caffeine and Alcohol May Help Stroke Patients Recover
Feb. 21, 2008 (New Orleans) -- A new drug that packs a wallop of caffeine
and alcohol may be the latest weapon in the war on stroke.
In a small study, 60% of stroke patients who were given the drug, called
caffeinol, had no or minimal disability when they were discharged from the
In contrast, only 26% of stroke survivors given standard therapy with tissue
plasminogen activator, or tPA, fared that well, says researcher Sheryl
Martin-Schild, MD, PhD, a neurovascular fellow of the University of Texas
Health Science Center in Houston.
"Caffeinol contains about as much caffeine as five to seven cups of
good, strong New Orleans coffee and the equivalent of two shots of
alcohol," she tells WebMD.
The research was presented at the American Stroke Association's
International Stroke Conference 2008.
How Caffeinol Works
The study involved 100 people who had suffered an ischemic stroke. All
received intravenous tPA; 10 also were given an infusion of caffeinol.
Ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, occurs when blood flow to
an area of the brain is compromised by a blood clot. This leads to the death of
brain cells and brain damage.
TPA breaks up the clot, restoring blood flow to the brain. But it's not a
cure-all; it only works in about 40% of patients. Plus, it has to be
administered in the first three hours after symptoms strike.
Caffeinol allows cells to tolerate reduced blood flow longer, thereby giving
tPA a longer opportunity to do its thing, says Jeffrey Saver, MD, vice chairman
of the American Heart Association's Stroke Council and a professor of neurology
"It appears to be a promising add-on for patients who get tPA,"
Saver tells WebMD.
Martin-Schild says that caffeinol was generally well tolerated. Ten percent
of patients in both groups had brain bleeds, "which is what you would
expect with tPA alone," she says.
"Most patients said they felt nothing, although a few elderly persons
said they got a buzz," Martin-Schild adds.
The next step will be a larger and longer study pitting tPA alone against
tPA plus caffeinol in patients with ischemic stroke.