Stopping statins after stroke raises risk of death, dependency

August 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: Rethinking statins: A wonder drug or 'false hope'?

Related Stories

Rethinking statins: A wonder drug or 'false hope'?

August 11, 2010

As the world's most-prescribed class of medications, statins indisputably qualify for the commercial distinction of "blockbuster." About 24 million Americans take the drugs - marketed under such commercial names as Pravachol, ...

Statins lower stroke severity, improve recovery

February 26, 2009

Mayo Clinic researchers have shown that patients who were taking statins before a stroke experienced better outcomes and recovery than patients who weren't on the drug — even when their cholesterol levels were ideal. The ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


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.