Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were eligible for inclusion.
Specific interventions included in the review
Studies that compared any preparation of Danshen with any placebo, or western or herbal preparation, not containing Danshen were eligible for inclusion.
The included studies compared Danshen ('Compound Danshen Injections' 12 to 30 mL intravenously per day) with western medicine (Buflomedil, Carnitine, Acuthrombin-B, Naloxone, PGE1, Antithrombin and FDP) or Chinese herbal medicines (Radix puerariae and Honghuayou). In most studies treatment with Danshen lasted 14 to 15 days (range: 10 to 28); control treatments lasted from 3 to 28 days. None of the included studies compared Danshen with placebo.
Participants included in the review
Studies of patients within 7 days of an acute ischaemic stroke (cerebral infarction or cerebral embolism) who had been diagnosed clinically and by computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging were eligible for inclusion. In the included studies, the mean age of the patients was 61 years, 60% had moderate to severe stroke, and the mean interval from stroke onset was 4 days.
Outcomes assessed in the review
Studies that assessed disability using measures that were either internationally recognised or nationally approved by an academic body in China were eligible for inclusion.
The primary review outcome was change in disability at 2 weeks, as measured on the Chinese National Disability Scale which classifies disability into five categories. In the review, the categories were combined to give a dichotomous measure of disability: 'improved' for the categories cure, significant improvement and improvement, and 'not improved' for the categories no improvement and deterioration. The included studies assessed disability after 10 to 28 days.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
Two reviewers searched the electronic databases and one reviewer conducted the handsearches. Two reviewers independently selected studies published in English and Chinese and resolved any disagreements through discussion.