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Statins Can Help Prevent Second Stroke
Date:5/25/2009

New study strengthens prior research on the cholesterol-lowering drugs

MONDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- Taking a cholesterol-lowering statin after a stroke reduces the risk of a second stroke, new research shows.

The 10-year study of nearly 800 people who had strokes found a 35 percent lower incidence of second strokes and a 57 percent lower death rate among those who took statins compared to those who didn't, according to a report in the May 26 issue of Neurology.

Statins include blockbuster medications such as Crestor, Lipitor, Pravachol and Zocor.

The new Greek study echoes findings from an even bigger international trial, reported in 2006, called Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL).

Together, "our study and the SPARCL study have clearly shown the benefits of statins," said Dr. Sotirios Giannopolous, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Ioannina, Greece, and lead author of the new trial.

SPARCL involved more than 4,700 individuals treated for strokes or "mini-strokes" (formally called transient ischemic attacks) at 205 medical centers around the world. It found a 16 percent reduction in second strokes, as well as a 35 percent reduction in major coronary events among participants given 80 milligrams a day of a single statin, Lipitor.

In the new Greek study, Giannopolous' team found that about 8 percent of those on statins had a second stroke, compared to 16 percent of participants not taking the medications.

The new study rounded out the SPARCL results because "we have included all statins in all dosages, thus our study reveals the drug class effect," Giannopoulos said. Based on the findings, "I would recommend administration of a statin on admission to a hospital," he said.

But Giannopoulos stressed that the cholesterol-lowering activity of a statin may not be the prime cause of related reductions in
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