Treating Cholesterol Reduces Risk of Second Stroke – Lipitor Lowered Risk 16 Percent

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If patients aggressively reduce their cholesterol levels they can reduce their risk of stroke by up to 16 percent, according to an international team of researchers. This is important because 40 percent of patients who experience a stroke will experience a second stroke within the next five years.

The study included 4,731 patients who experienced a stroke or TIA (mini stroke) within 6 months of enrollment. None of the patients had a history of heart disease. All of the patients had a mildly elevated cholesterol level. They were given either an 80 mg of Lipitor® or a placebo. They were then monitored for an average of five years.

The study was designed and conducted after the study ended to explore the types of strokes, ischemic or hemorrhagic. Also, the number of patients in the analysis who experienced hemorrhagic stroke was very small. There were more patients in the Lipitor® group who experienced this type of stroke (2.3 percent), compared to patients taking placebo (1.4 percent). However, the overall benefit in terms of reducing the risk of stroke was still significant despite this increase, and there was no difference in the number of deaths from hemorrhagic stroke between the two treatment groups.

According to Dr. K. Michael Welch, "These data are important information for physicians because patients who have had a stroke are at much greater risk for suffering another one, yet treatment options to reduce their risk are limited." Welch is President and CEO of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
The research is published in today's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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