Stroke prevention, blood cholesterol and statins.Acta Neurol Taiwan 2005; 14(3):96-112AN
Statins have a good overall safety profile to date, with no increase in haemorrhagic stroke or cancer. They have favourable effects in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in high-risk young as well as elderly populations. Statins reduce the incidence of stroke in high-risk populations (mainly CHD patients, diabetics and hypertensives) even with a normal baseline blood cholesterol level, which argues for a global cardiovascular risk-based treatment strategy. As for CHD, stroke reduction was mainly observed in studies with large between-group LDL cholesterol difference. In patients with prior strokes, statins reduce the incidence of coronary events, but it is not yet proven that they actually reduce the incidence of recurrent strokes in secondary prevention. From a practical point of view, since there was a favourable treatment effect overall in stroke and TIA patients in HPS, it seems reasonable to treat stroke patients with a statin and total cholesterol >135 mg/dL (3.5 mmol/dL). On-going research is aiming to refine patient selection. As anticipated by current US recommendations, patients who are likely to benefit most are those with carotid atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus, previous coronary heart disease, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, or cigarette smoking and LDL cholesterol > 100 mg/dL.