According to a five-year study led by an international team that includes a researcher at Duke University Medical Center, the risk of recurrent stroke// is reduced by 16%, in people who have no known history of coronary heart disease and start on a regular treatment with atorvastatin, a cholesterol-lowering drug
The Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) trial, the results of the study, is published in the 10th August 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Pfizer, the company which manufactures atorvastatin, funded this study.
"This is the first study to demonstrate that treatment with a statin, a type of cholesterol-lowering drug, can reduce the risk of strokes in patients who have had a recent stroke or a transient ischemic attack and who have no known history of coronary heart disease," said Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., director of the Duke Stroke Center and a member of the SPARCL steering committee.
A transient ischemic attack is similar to a stroke, but is of shorter duration and severity. Often referred to as a ministroke, it is considered a warning sign or prelude for stroke.
"These results will have a major effect on how people are treated following a stroke," Goldstein said. "The findings are very important for physicians and patients because they show that the addition of this drug to other treatments further reduces the risk of another stroke, which is a pretty big step in improving what we can do for stroke patients."
Previous studies, Goldstein said, have demonstrated that atorvastatin and other drugs within the class of medications called statins could reduce risk of stroke in patients who have a history of coronary disease. Coronary heart disease is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, usually due to a build-up of cholesterol. It is a leading cause of death for Americans, he added.
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