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Statins May Be Harmful After Stroke
Date:1/10/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Patients given cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins after suffering a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain may be at an increased risk of having another such stroke, a new study suggests.

It is well-known that statins help reduce the risk of heart disease and ischemic stroke, where a clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain. However, whether statins also benefit patients who have had a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke is unclear.

Lead researcher Dr. Steven M. Greenberg, director of the Hemorrhagic Stroke Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said that "there is a group of patients who have to think carefully about whether they are getting benefit from being on a statin. Those are people who have had a hemorrhagic stroke and survived it and are trying to figure out how to prevent future disease."

"For some of those people, the risk of being on the medication may be greater than the risk of not being on it," Greenberg said.

However, a lot depends on the location of the stroke in the brain, added lead study author Dr. M. Brandon Westover, a neurology resident at Massachusetts General.

"In one case [bleeding in the cerebrum] our answer was pretty clear-cut -- you shouldn't be on those medicines," he said.

"But for hemorrhages deep in the brain, usually caused by long-term high blood pressure, the risk of a new hemorrhage is lower, so our results were less clear-cut," he said. "But you are probably a little better off not being on the medication in that case, too."

The report is published in the Jan. 10 online edition of the Archives of Neurology.

For the study, Westover and his colleagues used a computer program called a Markov decision model to figure out whether statins were a benefit or risk to patients after a hemorrhagic stroke.

Using this model, they were able to simul
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