Patients who take statins to reduce cholesterol lower their chances of suffering from stroke by more than a fifth, French researchers suggest.
A study from Paris-Diderot University, in France, looked at 24 studies comprising more than 165,000 patients. They found each 1mmol/L drop in LDL cholesterol equated to a 21% drop in relative risk of stroke.
Previous research shows statins not only lower the overall risk of stroke but also slow the progression of blockage of the carotid arteries supplying the brain. Other benefits include reducing inflammation and endothelial dysfunction, decreasing platelet aggregation, improving fibrinolysis (breakdown of fibrin clots), lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the risk of thromboembolic complications to the brain by reducing the incidence of heart attacks.
The findings of the meta-analysis, published in the Lancet Neurology, found the effects of the treatment did not differ between men or women, those under 65 years of age and those aged more than 65, or in patients with diabetes versus those without the disease.
Lead authors Dr Pierre Amarenco and Julien Labreuche found no evidence that statin use increased the risk of haemorrhagic stroke, as had previously been suggested, but recommended caution when considering statin therapy in patients with prior cerebral haemorrhage.
Copyright Press Association 2009