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Researchers from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have joined a large trial that looks at whether an inexpensive medication, already used to treat other conditions, could help prevent those who have already had a stroke from having a further stroke.

The CONVINCE study – which is currently taking place in nine centres across Europe – has been extended to include centres in Northern Ireland and the border counties of the Republic of Ireland. The extension follows a funding boost of just over €600,000 by the Stroke Association, the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland and the Health Research Board in the Republic of Ireland.

The trial will recruit around 200 more stroke and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) (also known as mini-stroke) survivors living in border areas to find out whether colchicine – a medication typically used to treat gout – could help reduce the risk of further strokes.

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According to the Stroke Association, a stroke occurs every five minutes in the UK and it is leading cause of death and disability worldwide.

Barry Macaulay, Northern Ireland Director at the Stroke Association, said: “When stroke strikes life changes instantly. Recovery is tough and can be made much more difficult for some stroke survivors who live in fear of having another stroke.

“We’re delighted to play our part in funding this exciting European research which could help to stop the devastating impact of stroke and support stroke survivors in Northern Ireland and beyond to focus on rebuilding their lives.”

Participating stroke survivors living in Irish and Northern Irish border areas join a larger study taking place at locations across Europe. Half of the trial participants will be treated with colchicine as well as receiving usual care, while half will receive usual care without the medicine.

Previous trials in people have found that heart attack survivors treated with colchicine had fewer heart attacks and strokes compared to those who didn’t receive the medication.

The CONVINCE trial hopes to reveal whether the same medication could reduce the risk of stroke survivors having further strokes.

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