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Back To Vidyya Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) May Increase The Risk Of Hemorrhagic Stroke In People

Women Under The Age Of 50 At Risk

The National Stroke Association (NSA) urges the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make a rapid but thorough investigation to consider the risks and benefits of phenylpropanolamine (PPA), which is contained in many over-the-counter cough and cold medications and diet drugs.

On Thursday, the FDA panel of scientific advisors issued a report that said the drug PPA should not be classified as safe and may increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke in people, primarily women, under the age of 50. The drug constricts blood vessels and may seriously raise a person's blood pressure, which could cause a hemorrhage.

The FDA is not required to act on the advice of its panel, but in most cases takes the advisors recommendations.

According to Dr. Lawrence Brass, Professor of Neurology at Yale and NSA member, who was one of the neurologists on the study states, "There was 16-fold increase in the rate of women experiencing hemorrhagic stroke who were first time users of diet preparations containing PPA." Dr. Brass conducted this study during the past nine years. The results of his study concluded that between 200 to 400 hemorrhagic strokes per year may be attributed to the use of medications containing PPA.

Dr. Brass says, "There are alternative cold medications available without PPA. In the meantime, while the FDA is weighing all the evidence from this report, consumers can check their cough and cold medicine package labels to see if the medications contain PPA."

Patti Shwayder, CEO of the National Stroke Association says, "When we know that stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer each year, and you find out that PPA is a main ingredient in over-the-counter diet drugs and cough and cold medications, we must get this information out to the public."

Stroke affects more than three quarters of a million people every year. Of those, 160,000 will die. Hemorrhagic stroke is the least common but is the most deadly. Risk factors include: high blood pressure, alcohol and drug abuse, blood coagulation disorders and some anti-coagulant medications.

Based in Englewood, Colo., National Stroke Association is a leading independent national non-profit organization devoting 100 percent of its efforts and resources to stroke -- including prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for stroke survivors and their families. For more information on stroke or any of NSA's programs, contact the National Stroke Association at 1-800-STROKES (1-800-787-6537) or visit SOURCE National Stroke Association

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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