piracetam in secondary stroke prophylaxis

Piracetam versus acetylsalicylic acid in secondary stroke prophylaxis.

Grotemeyer KH, Evers S, Fischer M, Husstedt IW.

Department of Neurology,
Klinikum Saarbrucken gGmbH,
Winterberg 1, D-66119, Saarbrucken, Germany.
J Neurol Sci 2000 Dec 1;181(1-2):65-72


Piracetam has been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation. Therefore, we performed a double-blind, randomized, parallel group study to compare the efficacy of daily 1600 mg piracetam t.i.d. vs. 200 mg acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) t.i.d. in secondary stroke prophylaxis. 563 patients after stroke as confirmed by computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were enrolled and received either piracetam or ASA during a 2 year follow-up period. The primary endpoint was the rate of stroke, transient ischaemic attack (TIA), or death from vascular cause. The secondary endpoint was the rate of adverse events leading to a premature discontinuation of the study medication. Patients were visited at home every 3 months and were examined in hospital after 1 and 2 years. At every visit, the platelet function was evaluated. No significant difference and no significant equivalence could be shown for the primary endpoint between the piracetam and the ASA group both in the intent on-to-treat and in the per-protocol analysis. However, there was a not significant trend in favor of ASA (11.7 vs. 15.2%). After excluding those patients who did not respond to anti-platelet medication in vitro, however, piracetam and ASA were equivalent in secondary stroke prophylaxis (stroke, TIA, or vascular death 10.1% in the piracetam group vs. 9.7% in the ASA group). Piracetam was significantly superior to ASA in the secondary endpoint (P=0.0039). The data suggest that the overall efficacy of piracetam in secondary stroke prophylaxis is not as good as that of ASA but that piracetam is better tolerated. However, our data furthermore show that nonresponders to pharmacological inhibition of platelet function are more frequent under piracetam therapy and that they may influence the results of large studies on secondary prophylaxis in vascular diseases.