Statin reduces risk of repeat stroke in elderly

NEW YORK Wed Sep 3, 2008 9:32pm BST

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Age should not preclude people who have suffered a stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack) from being treated with a "statin" drug to lower the risk of a recurrence, US and European investigators report.

According to their study in the medical journal Neurology, the risk-benefit balance is as favorable among patients over the age of 64 as it is among younger patients.

A TIA is often called a mini-stroke. However, while the symptoms eventually go away, they can be quiet disabling, and a TIA is often portends a full-blown stroke.

Statins are widely-used cholesterol-lowering drugs. In this case, researchers examined the effect of Lipitor (atorvastatin) versus an inactive placebo in about 4700 patients who'd had a recent stroke or TIA. About half the patients were age 65 or older and the others were younger.

Dr. Seemant Chaturvedi, at Wayne State University in Detroit, and his colleagues found that atorvastatin reduced the risk of having a fatal or nonfatal stroke by 10 percent in the older group and by 26 percent in the younger group.

Absolute risk reductions were 1.5 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.

The differences between the age groups were not significant from a statistical standpoint.

All-cause mortality, reductions in LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels, treatment compliance, and rates of adverse events related to the study drug did not differ between older and younger subjects.

"In our study," Dr. Chaturvedi's group writes, "we found that elderly patients were able to maintain LDL reductions with atorvastatin with a low rate of serious side effects." Therefore, they should be encouraged stick with treatment for the long term.

SOURCE: Neurology, online September 3, 2008.

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