Blood-clotting drug 'could save injured soldiers'

Jane Kirby,Pa
Wednesday 19 January 2011 11:13
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A cheap blood-clotting drug could save the lives of thousands of soldiers injured in battle, research suggests.

A review of evidence on tranexamic acid (TXA), which is used to treat heavy periods and given to patients in surgery to cut the need for a blood transfusion, found the drug could save up to 70,000 lives a year worldwide.

Experts at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine calculated TXA cuts the risk of death in injured patients with severe bleeding by about 10% compared with no treatment.

As a result, medics working with the British military have already started using TXA to treat soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

The drug helps clotting and reduces excessive bleeding.

Lead researcher Professor Ian Roberts led the review of more than 20,000 patients and has been working with the Ministry of Defence on the benefits of the drug.

He said: "These results are based on a large number of patients, men and women, who came from many different countries.

"Given the high quality of evidence for the benefits of this drug, we recommend it be used more widely in injury victims with bleeding.

"TXA reduces the risk of a patient bleeding to death following an injury and appears to have few side effects.

"It could save lives in both civilian and military settings."

Prof Roberts said trauma patients, such as those who have been in car accidents or people who have been stabbed or shot, can suffer internal bleeding and would benefit from TXA.

"It can stop people bleeding to death in those situations," he said.

Prof Roberts said the drug should be better promoted for use in NHS hospitals.

Most doctors will never have heard such clinical trials have taken place but would like to know about the results, he said.

A MoD spokesman said: "Our medics deliver the best care available to our troops and are in the business of saving lives.

"Survival rates among the UK's Armed Forces are extraordinarily high and we are always looking at ways to increase them further by introducing new treatments and techniques.

"Among the life-saving treatments that we use is Tranexamic Acid, which we prescribe to all patients requiring major transfusion at the earliest opportunity."

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