Increase in Statin Use After Stroke Urged

Cholesterol lowering statins lower risk of recurrent stroke

(RxWiki News) Though cholesterol-lowering statin drugs have been shown to help prevent a recurrent stroke or a heart attack, a recent study showed only about half are taking statins following a stroke.

One of the most successful ways to prevent a recurrent stroke and lower the risk of a heart attack or death is by lowering cholesterol.

"Talk to your doctor about taking statins after a stroke."

Dr. Charles H. Hennekens, the Sir Richard Doll Research Professor of Medicine in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, said that he is concerned that only about half of eligible patients in the United States are being treated with statins, though  federal guidelines and those of the American Heart Association support the study's conclusion that additional statin use is needed for such patients. He said his research further supports the need for widespread use of statins in patients who have had a stroke.

The American Heart Association had revised guidelines to recommend that prior stroke patients maintain a goal LDL cholesterol of 70 mg/dL. Stroke is a leading cause of death and long-term disability in the United States. The recurrence rate after five years is about 33 percent.

Dr. Hennekens emphasizes that increased statin use for patients who have suffered a stroke will produce statistically significant and clinically important reductions in their risks of future stroke, heart attack and death from cardiovascular disease.

Researchers conducted a review study of heart disease research that involved more than 90,000 participants worldwide. They found that taking statins can significantly reduce the risk of another stroke, heart attack or death.

A non-randomized subgroup analysis found that patients who achieved a 50 percent or more reduction in bad LDL cholesterol compared to those who reduced it by less than 50 percent resulted in a 31 percent reduction in stroke risk.

A comprehensive analysis of cardiovascular disease trials showed that patients treated intensively with statins as opposed to those taking standard statin treatment had a significantly reduced risk of stroke, a type of heart attack called myocardial infarction, any other cardiovascular event and death.

The review study was published in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Review Date: 
September 19, 2011