TUESDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Statins, a widely
prescribed class of drugs used to lower cholesterol, are not linked
to an increased chance of brain bleeds in people who've had
strokes, new research finds.
Statins are commonly prescribed to people who've had an ischemic
stroke, caused by blocked blood flow to the brain, to reduce the
risk of another stroke.
But two previous reviews raised concerns that statins might also
raise the risk of bleeding in the brain.
"We found no evidence that such patients are at higher risk for cerebral bleeding than individuals who do not receive statins," the authors wrote. "Physicians should continue to adhere to current treatment guidelines recommending statin therapy for most patients with a history of ischemic stroke."
The study is published online in the Sept. 12 issue of the
Archives of Neurology
Researchers in Canada analyzed data on nearly 18,000 patients
aged 66 and older who suffered an ischemic stroke over the course
of 12 years. Half of the patients received statins after their
stroke; half did not.
Some 213 people experienced bleeding in the brain during an
average follow-up of more than four years.
The rate of brain bleeds was slightly lower in patients on
statins, although it wasn't a statistically significant difference,
the authors said in a journal news release.
In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Philip B. Gorelick of the
University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, said more
research is needed to make a final determination about the safety
and utility of statins in stroke patients.
To prevent future strokes, stroke patients should also keep
their blood pressure in check, Gorelick added.
"The clinical decision to administer a statin following ICH [intercerebral hemorrhage, or brain bleed] remains a challenging one with available evidence tilting in the direction of withholding such therapy, especially when there is a history of lobar brain hemorrhage," Gorelick wrote in the news release.
Patients and families should be informed of the risks and
participate in the decision whether to take statins, he added.
The U.S. National Stroke Association provides more information