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 finding is reported in the current issue of the Journal
of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases.
"We were trying to determine if the daily use of statins had more of an
impact on stroke patients than simply lowering their "bad" (low-density
lipid) cholesterol," explains lead researcher Latha Stead, M.D. "We
already knew statin use improved outcomes in general, so we focused on
the patients who had optimal LDL levels and found it still had quite
Statins or reductase inhibitors are enzymes that are widely used to
improve cardiovascular health and, more recently, for certain vascular
conditions in the brain. One use has been to lower the level of LDL
which can contribute to arterial blockages.
Significance of the Research
Previous researchers had shown a lower death rate and improved function
in strokes when people had used statins. The Mayo team found that
statin used in this cohort also decreased the severity of the strokes
and significantly improved overall outcomes. The researchers say this
shows benefits far beyond lowering lipid levels. Researchers think the
specific benefits may include plaque stabilization and improved cell
function in vascular walls, as well as anti-inflammatory and
antioxidant factors. More research is needed to pinpoint the specific
How it was done
Researchers identified 508 patients who were diagnosed with acute
ischemic stroke in the emergency department during the 22 months from
March 2004 to December 2005. Among that number, 207 had their lipid
levels measured within 15 days either side of the stroke incident --
and had LDL levels at or below 100 mg/dL, which is considered optimal
for healthy individuals. Roughly half the cohort of 207 had been taking
statins. Researchers also adjusted for age, gender and stroke severity.
Others on the research team were Lekshmi Vaidyanathan, M.B.B.S.;
GautamKumar, M.B.B.S.; M. Fernanda Bellolio, M.D.; Robert Brown, Jr.,
M.D.; Smitha Suravaram, M.B.B.S.; Sailaja Enduri, M.B.B.S.; Rachel
Gilmore, M.B.B.Ch.; and Wyatt Decker, M.D., all of Mayo Clinic.
Should children take statins? See our Opposing Views debate.
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