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Statins decrease stroke after heart attack

09/05/2002 - News

Statins decrease stroke after heart attack

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD

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According to a new study, intensive efforts to lower cholesterol after a heart attack reduces the risk of stroke.

While stroke is an uncommon complication of heart attack, it may well be fatal or profoundly disabling. So measures to reduce the risk are to be welcomed. Doctors at the University of California now report how lowering cholesterol can protect from stroke occurring after a heart attack.

They studied 3,086 patients who had had a heart attack - assigning them to either the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin, or placebo, within four days of hospitalisation. Less than two per cent of the patients suffered a stroke during the four months of the study. Of these, 12 were in the statin group and 24 in the placebo group. This suggests that statins do protect against stroke, but the numbers are very small. The study needs to be repeated on a larger scale before we can be sure of the results. Another important point is that three of the strokes were caused by bleeding into the brain, rather than a blood clot. But these strokes all occurred in the placebo groups, which helps dispel fears that statins could increase the risk of hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke.

Source

Circulation 3rd September 2002

Created on: 09/05/2002
Reviewed on: 09/05/2002

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