Statin therapy and stroke prevention: what was known, what is new and what is next?Curr Opin Lipidol 2007; 18(6):622-5CO
PURPOSE OF REVIEW
Randomized trials have shown that statins may reduce the risk of primary stroke. There is no evidence however that statins can reduce recurrent stroke incidence.
In the SPARCL trial, patients with a recent stroke or transient ischemic attack randomized to atorvastatin 80 mg/day had a significant 16% relative risk reduction of stroke, and a 35% reduction in major coronary events compared with placebo. This was obtained despite 25% of the placebo arm patients receiving a commercially-available statin outside of the trial. Post-hoc analysis used blinded LDL-cholesterol measurements as a marker of adherence to lipid-lowering therapy. Compared with the group with no change or an increase in LDL-cholesterol (the group adherent to placebo or not taking a statin), the group with over 50% reduction in LDL-cholesterol had a significant 31% reduction in stroke. The next step is to define whether achieving LDL-cholesterol below 70 mg/dl is better than a standard dose of statin (LDL around 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-cholesterol lowering.