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Continued Statin Use Boosts Post-Stroke Outcomes
Date:8/27/2007

Interrupting the drugs for even a few days can negatively impact recovery, study finds

MONDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Hospitalized stroke patients who stop taking their cholesterol-lowering statin drugs -- even for a short time -- may increase their long-term risk of death and disability, researchers report.

The Spanish study found that withdrawing statins -- which include drugs like Crestor, Pravachol and Zocor -- in the first three days after a stroke raised a patient's risk of either dying or becoming physically dependant three months later by nearly fivefold, compared with patients who continued their statin regimen.

"This study is extremely important, because for the first time, it has demonstrated in a clinical trial that patients taken off of these drugs when they come to the hospital have a worse outcome," said Dr. Matthew Fink, chief of the division of stroke and critical care neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Fink noted that prior research has already highlighted statins' protective effect, and that it's now common for physicians to immediately put stroke patients on statins, or maintain their usual statin use in the event of an attack. However, the drugs are not yet specifically approved for this stroke-specific use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Fink emphasized that doctors don't consider this "off-label" use of statins risky or dangerous.

The study, published in the Aug. 28 issue of Neurology, was led by Dr. Jose Castillo at the University of Santiago de Compostela.

According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), 80 percent of strokes are preventable, but the attacks are still the third leading cause of death in the United States. They are also the country's leading cause of adult disability.

A stroke results from a blockage of blood flow to the brain after a clot blocks either an artery or a blood vessel, th
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