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Individuals who have received a positive HbA1c test for diabetes are much more likely to experience potentially deadly complications in the event of a stroke than healthy people. However, up until now, there has been little that doctors could do about this.
This may change soon, however, as a team of researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center recently uncovered the mechanism that accounts for the increased stroke risk among diabetics. The scientists hope that their findings could result in new medications that reduce this threat.
After studying mice, the researchers found that high blood sugar levels increased the amount of the protein plasma kallikrein in the brain. This protein inhibits the normal clotting action of blood, which results in uncontrollable bleeding during a stroke. However, by inhibiting this protein, the researchers were able to mitigate bleed risk in diabetic mice.
Since elevated blood sugar levels - not full-blown diabetes - is the cause of increased plasma kallikrein levels, the researchers said that their findings could affect millions of people.
"This work could have broad implications since about half of patients with acute hemorrhagic stroke have hyperglycemia, whether or not they have pre-existing diabetes," said Edward Feener, who led the study.
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