People who have had a stroke and take statins, medications to lower blood cholesterol levels, may have a lower risk of having another stroke, a study suggests.
- Taking statins reduces the risk of having another stroke according to researchers.
- Statins are used to lower cholesterol, high levels of which can cause stroke.
- Ischemic stroke is caused by a blockage of blood flow to the brain and is the most common type of stroke.
This is good news for people who take statins and have had a hemorrhaging stroke: taking this cholesterol-lowering drug after a hemorrhagic stroke may reduce the risk of another stroke, according to a study published in Neurology.
Lowering cholesterol helps reduce the risk of having another stroke
A cerebrovascular accident (CVA), also often called “attack“, occurs when blood flow to or within the brain is interrupted by a blocked blood vessel, explains Ministry of Health. This is then an ischemic stroke, which is the most common.
When a blood vessel is ruptured, what happens in less than 15% of caseswe speak of hemorrhagic stroke.
Cholesterol is a stroke risk factor hence the interest in statins, the most common drugs to reduce cholesterol. For the study, researchers followed 15,151 people who had suffered a first hemorrhagic stroke for a little over three years.
Statins reduce the risk of ischemic stroke by more than 10%
The study was carried out from 30 days after their first stroke until the occurrence of another stroke, their death or the end of the experiment. The researchers additionally used prescription data to obtain information on statin use.
“We found that those who used statins had a lower risk of stroke, including ischemic stroke, while the risk of hemorrhagic stroke did not change“, explains study author David Gaist, of the University of Southern Denmark in Odense and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.
Indeed, after adjusting for factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes and alcohol consumption, statin use was associated with a 12% decreased risk of new ischemic stroke.
The study, however, has limitations. In fact, it only focused on the Danish population, “composed mainly of people of European origin, and that it may not be generalizable to other populations”, recall the authors.