Hormonal treatment associated with better test performance after stroke

June 25, 2012

Stroke patients treated who received hormonal treatment, combined with rehabilitation, performed better on functioning and reasoning tests than patients who received rehabilitative therapy alone, a new clinical study from Italy shows. The results to be presented at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

In the United States, stroke is the fourth-leading cause of death. The disease occurs when a blood vessel to the brain either ruptures (), or is obstructed by a clot during an , which is the most common type. Inadequate blood flow prevents oxygen from reaching , which can lead to and serious long-term disability.

The hormone, relaxin, or RLX, is a naturally occurring protein produced by the in men and women, although only women have circulating hormone in the blood, both during ovulation and pregnancy. For years after its discovery in 1926 by the renowned zoologist and reproductive endocrinologist Frederick Hisaw, the hormone's primary role was thought to be that of relaxing the uterus and pelvis for childbirth.

More recently, however, research from this study's investigators, as well as others, has demonstrated that the hormone also helps many different organs and bodily processes prepare for pregnancy. These include the heart and blood vessels, or cardiovascular system; lungs; kidneys; ; as well as the immune system.

"Considering the present clinical results and our previous experimental studies, we believe that RLX is a very important, if not the most important, cardiovascular hormone," said study author Mario Bigazzi, M.D. an internist at Prosperius Institute, in Florence, Italy. "We believe that the presence of relaxin in women's blood at each ovulation represents the still-undiscovered factor protecting them from cardiovascular diseases during the fertile span of life until the menopause. This may assure their well-known longer survival time than men."

Twenty days after beginning treatment, patients who received relaxin performed comparably to non-recipients on a test measuring daily-task ability. On a similar test 40 days after initial treatment, however, relaxin patients performed better than their non-relaxin counterparts. Both groups also received rehabilitative therapy.

Similarly, relaxin recipients scored higher than other patients on tests of reasoning and overall functioning, both at 20 and 40 days after starting treatment. No side effects associated with relaxin were reported during the study.

According to Bigazzi, these results demonstrate relaxin's tremendous promise to treat, and even prevent, heart and blood-vessel diseases, including stroke. "We anticipate that, in the near future RLX, will represent an essential tool in the therapy and primary and secondary prevention of ischemic cardiovascular disease," he said.

Thirty-six patients who had suffered a participated in the study. Patients ranged in age from 64 to 79 years, and 53 percent were male.

Each participant was randomly assigned to receive daily treatment with oral relaxin, combined with physical rehabilitation, or physical rehabilitation alone. Investigators then used standardized tests to determine patients' functioning in three domains, including daily activity, reasoning, and overall functioning. These assessments occurred on the first day of the study, then again at 20 and 40 days.

Explore further: Vasodilator hormone improved kidney function, blood flow in PKD model

Related Stories

Vasodilator hormone improved kidney function, blood flow in PKD model

December 6, 2011
After a four-week course of the vasodilator hormone relaxin, kidney function and blood flow immediately improved in lab rats genetically altered to model polycystic kidney disease (PKD), a life-threatening genetic disorder, ...

Clot-busting drug safe for stroke patients taking blood thinner

May 10, 2012
Acute ischemic stroke patients taking the blood thinner warfarin can be treated safely with the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Quality ...

New drug doesn't improve disability among stroke patients

February 3, 2012
A new drug that showed promise in animal studies and an early clinical trial didn't improve disability among stroke patients, according to late-breaking research presented at the American Stroke Association's International ...

Recommended for you

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

Heart study finds faulty link between biomarkers and clinical outcomes

July 14, 2017
Surrogate endpoints (biomarkers), which are routinely used in clinical research to test new drugs, should not be trusted as the ultimate measure to approve new health interventions in cardiovascular medicine, according to ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.