Certain antidepressants and Alzheimer’s disease drugs may help patients recover from strokes.

However, according to a study that appeared recently in Drugs and Aging, since there are conflicting findings from studies of these and other drugs given to recovering stroke patients, large and well-defined studies are needed before any drug can be routinely recommended for stroke recovery, according to a media release from Loyola University Health System.

So far, the release notes, the most promising drug treatments are antidepressants to improve motor recovery and Alzheimer’s disease drugs to boost recovery from aphasia (impaired ability to speak, write, and understand verbal and written language).

The antidepressants that, according to the study, may work in stroke patients are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs (such as Prozac, Paxil and Celexa). Another type of antidepressant, called a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NRI), may also have benefits, according to the release.

The Alzheimer’s disease drugs that the study suggests may help improve aphasia in stroke patients are called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (including Aricept, Exelon and Razadyne). Another drug being studied is called memantine (Namenda), which, when used in combination with therapy, suggests language benefits lasting 1 year compared to a placebo. However, clinical evidence of memantine for stroke recovery remains limited, the release explains.

So far, the release notes, most studies of these and other drugs used for stroke recovery have been small, employing different methodologies and time windows between the stroke and the clinical intervention.

“We need well-designed, large clinical trials with enough power to establish the usefulness of medications as adjuvants to rehabilitation before we can routinely recommend the use of these agents to enhance neurological recovery after stroke,” the study’s authors—neurologists Xabier Beristain, MD, and Esteban Golombievski, MD, of Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine—write, per the release.

[[Source(s): Loyola University Health System, EurekAlert]