April 15, 2009

Statins Cut The Risk Of Stroke By A Fifth

Researchers reported that a pooled analysis of 24 past clinical studies involving 165,000 people showed cholesterol-lowering drugs cut the risk of strokes by about a fifth, Reuters reported.

French researchers reported in the journal Lancet Neurology that the class of drugs "” a mainstay for millions of people with heart disease "” also slows the movement of blockages in the carotid artery carrying blood to the brain.

Stroke risk fell by 21 percent for each one millimole per liter decrease in the level of "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, according to the meta-analysis.

Experts say individual clinical trials in the past have not always given a clear picture of the benefits of using statins in stroke prevention.

Pfizer's Lipitor, AstraZeneca's Crestor and cheaper generics, such as simvastatin, are among the leading statins currently being used.

"The next step in the field should be to assess the safety and effectiveness of further reductions in LDL cholesterol after a stroke," said lead researcher Pierre Amarenco from Paris-Diderot University.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that Stroke killed 143,579 people in 2005.

It is currently the third leading cause of death, ranking behind "diseases of the heart" and all forms of cancer.

It is also a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, the association said.


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