Atorvastatin in prevention of stroke and transient ischaemic attack.Expert Opin Pharmacother 2007; 8(16):2789-97EO
Besides blood pressure-lowering drugs and, in certain circumstances, antithrombotic agents, statins are among the most effective drugs in reducing the risk of stroke in populations of patients at high vascular risk, as well as the risk of major coronary events. In secondary prevention of stroke, statins clearly reduced the risk of major coronary events. In the SPARCL (Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels) trial, compared with placebo, the patients with a recent stroke or transient ischaemic attack without coronary heart disease randomised to atorvastatin 80 mg/day had a significant 16% relative risk reduction of stroke and a 35% reduction in the risk of major coronary events. This was obtained despite the fact that 25% of patients allocated to the placebo arm were prescribed a commercially available statin outside the trial. A post-hoc analysis used blinded low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) measurements (taken at study visits during the trial) as a marker of adherence to lipid-lowering therapy. Compared with the group with no change or an increase in LDL-C (the group adherent to placebo or not taking a statin), the group with >or= 50% reduction in LDL-C had a significant 31% reduction in the risk of stroke. The next step is to define whether or not achieving a LDL-C of < 70 mg/dl is better than a standard dose of statin (LDL approximately 100 - 110 mg/dl) in the secondary prevention of stroke. Statins are effective in reducing both first-ever and recurrent stroke, and this effect seems driven by the extent of LDL-C lowering.