Cholesterol Drugs May Prevent Strokes

Statins could prevent strokes in young individuals

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Strokes are tough to predict, much less prevent. Cholesterol lowering drugs known as statins may be effective in preventing a second stroke among younger people.

Dr. Jukka Putaala, a researcher with the Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland, said that cholesterol lowering medications, such as Vytorin and Lipitor, are not often used to prevent strokes and vascular problems in young people because the cause of their strokes can be hard to identify. 

She said the study suggested that the drugs should be considered even if the cause of stroke is unknown and cholesterol is not high. The statins are suspected to work for individuals between the ages of 15 and 49 who have previously suffered a stroke.

"Ask you doctor about statins if you've previously had a stroke."

Researchers examined the medical records of 215 people between the ages of 15 and 49 who had previously experienced an ischemic stroke. They were followed for an average of nine years.

About a third of the patients had taken a statin at some point following the initial stroke. Of the 36 individuals who continuously took a statin, none had a second stroke or vascular problem. Of 36 patients who took a statin at some point after their stroke, but not continuously, four people, or 11 percent, had a second stroke or vascular issue. When it came to the 143 people who never took a statin drug, 29 people, or 20 percent, had a second stroke or vascular problem.

Researchers concluded that those treated with a statin at any time following a stroke were 77 percent less likely to experience another stroke or vascular problems compared to those who never took a statin. That percentage was after adjustment for factors such as age, hypertension and whether they took blood pressure drugs.

Dr. Putaala said that while few were treated with a statin, at the very least, young adults who have had a stroke should be considered for treatment with cholesterol lowering drugs.

The research was published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 29, 2011
Last Updated:
August 2, 2011