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More Evidence That Statins Cut Stroke Risk
Date:1/14/2010

Benefit linked to cholesterol-lowering effect, study suggests

THURSDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- One of the largest analyses of the effect of statin drug therapy on the risk of stroke confirms the benefits of these widely used drugs.

Much of the benefit from statins such as Crestor, Lipitor and Zocor appears tied to the drugs' lowering of blood levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, the researchers found.

Data from clinical trials including almost 267,000 participants showed an overall 12 percent reduction in stroke incidence among those taking statins, with each 1 percent reduction in total cholesterol predicting a 0.8 percent relative risk reduction of stroke.

The report, published in the Jan. 19 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, was led by physicians at G. d'Annunzio University in Chieti, Italy.

"This is consistent with prior studies and reinforces the benefit of statin therapy in preventing stroke in selected populations of patients," said Dr. Larry B. Goldstein, director of the Stroke Center at Duke University.

But the report contains hints that the reduction of stroke risk is not entirely explained by the cholesterol-lowering effect of statins, added Dr. Brendan M. Everett, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School and attending cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. The JUPITER study, which he helped conduct, found a benefit for people with high levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.

"There are many possible explanations for the reduction in stroke risk observed in actively treated patients, and one of those is a reduction of inflammation with statin therapy," Everett said. "In JUPITER, we observed a 48 percent reduction in total stroke and 51 percent reduction in ischemic stroke among patients with a normal LDL cholesterol at baseline."

An ischemic stroke, the most common form, occurs when a blood clot b
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