Taken daily the potent, statin-like tablet packed with the healing properties of a naturally occurring wonder chemical could become a game-changing treatment.
Studies suggest the impact of a stroke could be signifi cantly reduced by sulforaphane - which is released when lightly cooked broccoli is eaten.
Researchers are now investigating whether a simple supplement containing the equivalent of three to five weekly portions of sulforaphanerich vegetables could prevent potentially deadly brain bleeds.
A breakthrough study, funded by the British Heart Foundation, is under way and could see a widely available therapy within five years.
Experts think a daily pill could lessen the damage should someone suffer a stroke and make inroads into cutting the 40,000 deaths every year.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, the charity’s associate medical director, said: “In the future we could see people taking a pill every day to prevent a stroke’s debilitating effects, much in the same way people currently take a statin to ward off a heart attack.”
Unlike statins, which protect against heart attack by lowering cholesterol, there is currently no specific treatment to help prevent a stroke.
Sulforaphane is found in vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage but millions of people fail to eat the recommended five-a-day.
When someone suffers a stroke the body’s natural defences are overwhelmed, which can worsen brain damage.
Sulforaphane works by boosting a molecule called Nrf2, which protects cells by switching on antioxidant genes within cells and tissues that defend against attack.
Professor Giovanni Mann, of King’s College London, who is leading the research, said: “A pill containing sulforaphane could be a highly successful therapeutic to reduce brain damage associated with stroke.
“By giving the right dose we could greatly protect patients.
“Pre-treatment could guard against the severity of strokeinduced damage by raising the level of the protective enzymes."
A pill that contained this compound should not be expensive to produce and we could take it like a statin.
This chemical is found in common vegetables but not everyone eats a healthy diet so a simple pill containing it could lessen the likelihood or severity of a stroke.”
Strokes are usually caused by an artery clot or burst blood vessel in the brain.
They kill 40,000 people in the UK every year and lead to permanent disability, such as paralysis, in one in four survivors.
Treatment for the UK’s 100,000 stroke sufferers costs the NHS an estimated £2billion every year.
Prof Pearson added: “More than 600 patients are admitted to hospital having suffered a stroke every day and the outlook for survivors is often bleak.
“There are currently few treatment options so we urgently need to find new ones not only to save lives but to prevent the damaging impact they have on the lives of survivors.
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