Stopping statins after stroke raises risk of death, dependency

Aug 27, 2007

People who stopped taking cholesterol-lowering drugs after being hospitalized for a stroke are at greater risk of death or dependency within three months of the stroke, according to a study published in the August 28, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that people who stopped taking their cholesterol-lowering drugs, also called statins, while hospitalized after a stroke were 4.7 times more likely to have died or be dependent on others for their care three months after the stroke than people who kept taking the drugs.

“These results strongly support the recommendation to physicians to continue statin drugs during the acute phase of an ischemic stroke,” said study author José Castillo, MD, PhD, of the University of Santiago de Compostela in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Castillo said that while no protocols suggest that patients should not receive statins after a stroke, in many cases the drugs are discontinued to avoid problems that can occur when stomach content is regurgitated into the lungs. “This study clearly shows the benefits of continuing statin use,” he said.

The study involved 89 people who were already taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs at the time when they had a stroke. For the first three days after being admitted to the hospital, 46 of the people received no statin drugs and 43 received the drugs.

After three months, 27 people, or 60 percent, of the group that received no statins had either died or were disabled to the point that they could not complete their daily activities independently, compared to 16 people, or 39 percent, of the group that kept taking statins.

Previous studies have shown that people who are taking statins at the time of a stroke have less severe strokes than those who aren’t taking statins.

Statins appear to do more than reduce cholesterol. They also reduce inflammation and help keep the blood from clotting, which can cause stroke. Statins also increase the release of nitric oxide, which is protective, from the cells lining artery walls.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Supercharging stem cells to create new therapies

Related Stories

Cholesterol: The good, the bad, the unknown

Feb 21, 2011

Two people are diagnosed with high cholesterol, one of the leading risk factors for heart disease, and follow similar therapies. One ends up with improved cholesterol levels, but the other doesn't.

Statin benefit 'not affected' by low inflammation

Jan 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new Oxford-led study shows that statins are at least as effective in reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke in patients with low levels of inflammation as they are in other patients.

Statins less dangerous than thought for liver patients

Nov 24, 2010

Long-term use of statins, a drug widely prescribed to prevent artery-blocking cholesterol, is less risky than thought for patients with a common form of liver disease, according to a study published on Wednesday by The La ...

Recommended for you

Researchers reveal a genetic blueprint for cartilage

Jul 02, 2015

Cartilage does a lot more than determine the shapes of people's ears and noses. It also enables people to breathe and to form healthy bones—two processes essential to life. In a study published in Cell Re ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.