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Archive for Friday, January 13, 2006

Debate intensifies over Sharon’s doctors’ decisions after 1st stroke

January 13, 2006

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— Ariel Sharon's doctors faced new criticism Thursday for failing to divulge a brain disease discovered after the prime minister's initial stroke and for prescribing blood thinners that may have contributed to a massive second stroke.

The criticism added to a growing chorus of questions about Sharon's treatment. Some experts, however, said there was no clear-cut answer.

As Sharon lay comatose for an eighth day Thursday, a brain scan showed the remnants of the blood in his brain from a Jan. 4 stroke have been absorbed, hospital officials said in a statement.

In response, doctors removed a tube they had inserted into Sharon's skull to relieve pressure on his brain, the statement said.

In coming days, doctors may have to cut a hole in Sharon's neck to assist breathing, while still waiting for the clearest sign of improvement: the moment he opens his eyes.

After Sharon, 77, suffered an initial, minor stroke Dec. 18, doctors put him on Clexane, an anticoagulant. At a news conference a few days later, doctors acknowledged blood thinners increased the risk of brain hemorrhage, but said the fear of a clot leading to another stroke was greater in this case.

The debate gained momentum after the Haaretz daily revealed that Sharon also suffered from cerebral amyloid angiopathy, known as CAA, a disease common in the elderly that weakens the blood vessels in the brain and increases the risk of hemorrhage.

Doctors confirmed they knew about the disease after the first stroke, but prescribed the blood thinners anyway, a move outside experts criticized Thursday.

Doctors were prescribing the Clexane until they could seal a small hole in Sharon's heart they said caused Sharon's first stroke. Clexane, or enoxaparin, is sold as Lovenox in the United States.

But some experts questioned that theory and said the initial stroke was more likely caused by Sharon's brain condition. Sharon suffered his massive stroke a day before he was to undergo the procedure to seal the hole in his heart.

Doctors did not disclose the condition in December, and several Israeli media outlets chided Sharon's medical team for keeping it under wraps.

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