For patients who have had a stroke butwho have no history of coronary heart disease,a recent study has shown that treatmentwith atorvastatin following strokecan reduce the risk of a recurrence. Therandomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled,multicenter study, known asStroke Prevention by Aggressive Reductionin Cholesterol Levels, included4731 patients at 205 sites around theworld who had experienced either astroke or a transient ischemic attack within6 months of their inclusion in the study.The average age of the patient was 63years, 60% were male, and patients werefollowed for an average of 5 years.Approximately 66% of patients had anischemic stroke (sudden blockage ofblood supply to the brain), 30% had a transientischemic stroke (known as a "ministroke"),and 2% had a hemorrhagicstroke (leaking blood vessel in the brain).Ninety-four percent of patients were takingaspirin or clot-reducing medications aspart of their treatment; 69% were beingtreated with blood pressure medications.Researchers randomly assigned patientsto receive either 80 mg/day of atorvastatinor placebo. Results showed thatatorvastatin reduced the risk of fatal andnonfatal strokes by 16% when comparedwith placebo. According to researchers,the cholesterol-lowering drug may helpprevent future strokes by lowering lowdensitylipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol,which is known to increase the risk ofstroke as well as coronary heart disease.Patients taking atorvastatin had an LDLlevel of 73 mg/dL, compared with 129mg/dL for patients in the placebo group.The study, funded by Pfizer, appeared inthe August 2006 issue of the NewEngland Journal of Medicine.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medicalwriter based in Wakefield, RI.