Cholesterol Drugs May Help After Bleeding Stroke
Blood Vessel Problem in Brain May Be Rarer in Survivors Taking Statins
July 28, 2005 -- Statin drugs, which lower cholesterol, may have a benefit for survivors of strokes caused by bleeding in the brain.
Two small studies tested statins on people who had a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain -- called a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Thirty-five percent of patients with subarachnoid hemorrhages die in the first 24 hours, says researcher John Lynch, MD, in a news release.
Patients taking statins fared better than those given a fake drug (placebo).They were less likely to have prolonged constriction of brain blood vessels after their brain hemorrhage.
The prolonged constriction, called cerebral vasospasm, is common with bleeding in the brain and may lead to another stroke.
Longer, larger studies should be done, write the researchers in Stroke.
A Leading Killer
Strokes are the No. 3 cause of death and a leading cause of severe, long-term disability in the U.S. Every year, nearly 700,000 Americans have a stroke. That's about one stroke every 45 seconds, states the web site of the American Stroke Association (ASA).
Strokes can happen when a blood vessel is clogged (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel breaks, bleeding into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).
Most strokes are ischemic strokes. By curbing cholesterol that can clog blood vessels, statin drugs help avoid ischemic strokes.
Doctors already knew that. The new studies focused on patients who had had the rarer hemorrhagic strokes.
Stroke Warning Signs
The ASA lists these stroke warning signs:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble with speaking, or trouble with understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or trouble with walking
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause is more common after a hemorrhagic stroke
Get medical help immediately at any sign of stroke. Prompt treatment can make a big difference, and some medications must be given within a short time frame.