Statins for the prevention of first or recurrent stroke.Curr Vasc Pharmacol 2008; 6(2):124-33CV
This review considers the evidence showing that statins can prevent first or recurrent stroke or improve its outcome in subjects at moderate or high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Data are reviewed according to trial design (observational or prospective) and baseline CVD risk. Two (ASCOT, CARDS) out of five primary CVD prevention statin trials showed a considerable reduction in stroke rates. In two (MIRACL and PROVE IT) out of five acute coronary syndrome trials, the prevention of first stroke was significant. Most secondary prevention trials (4S, CARE, LIPID, HPS, GREACE and TNT) showed a beneficial effect of statins in stroke prevention. Finally, SPARCL, the only secondary stroke prevention trial in subjects without overt coronary heart disease (CHD), showed a significant reduction in total and ischaemic (fatal and nonfatal) stroke rate, although a small but significant increase in nonfatal haemorrhagic stroke was noted. There was also a significant reduction in CHD-related events. The possible mechanisms responsible for statin-associated stroke prevention are discussed. The evidence suggests the need to consider early and long-term statin treatment (with substantial low-density lipoprotein cholesterol reduction) in all patients at high risk of any type of major vascular event, without discriminating CHD from stroke. Thus, statins may be beneficial to both the heart and the brain.