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Cholesterol Drugs Help Stroke Recovery

Statins Can Help When Given Before or After Stroke Happens
WebMD Health News

April 12, 2005 (Miami Beach) - Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins may reduce disability after a stroke.

Researchers reporting at the American Academy of Neurology 57th Annual Meeting say stroke victims who were taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs before their stroke are more likely to recover and go home than those not on these medications.

For those victims not taking a statin drug before a stroke, starting them soon afterward also cuts the risk of dying or being discharged to a nursing home, the study shows.

"Unless there are medical reasons not to take the drugs, all patients who suffer a stroke should be put on statins," says researcher Majaz Moonis, MD, director of the Stroke Prevention Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

Statins Help Before and After Stroke

The researchers also suggest that people who are at high risk of stroke should be considered for statin therapy even before they suffer a stroke.

Moonis says the study shows that people started on statin drugs within a week of a stroke were one-and-a-half to more than twice as likely to recover and go home within 45 days as those who were not given the drugs.

"People who were taking statin drugs before a stroke were 1.6 times more likely to be discharged home as opposed to being discharged to a nursing home or dying," he tells WebMD.

The researchers also show that people who were given a statin after a stroke were more than twice as likely to be discharged home as those victims never given the drugs.

The researchers studied 1,618 people who had an ischemic stroke, a type of stroke caused by a blood clot. Other strokes are caused by ruptured blood vessels that spill blood into the brain.

While statin drugs are best known for their ability to lower LDL "bad" cholesterol, Moonis says he suspects other disease-fighting properties are at play in these patients.

"We were looking at outcomes within 45 days of the stroke," he explains. "That would be too soon to expect a cholesterol-lowering effect in the patients who were started in the drugs after a stroke."

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