Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs May Improve Hemorrhagic Stroke Outcomes

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Statins, which have been found to help after ischemic strokes, may also improve outcomes of hemorrhagic strokes.
Statins, which have been found to help after ischemic strokes, may also improve outcomes of hemorrhagic strokes.

(HealthDay News) -- Patients taking cholesterol-lowering statins while being treated for a hemorrhagic stroke are over four times more likely to survive than people who aren't taking the drugs, according to a new study published online in JAMA Neurology.

Previous research has shown that statin medications help after ischemic strokes, lead author, Alexander Flint, MD, PhD, the medical director of neuroscience quality at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, Calif., told HealthDay. But, he added, there have been conflicting findings about statin use in hemorrhagic strokes. 

The goal of this study was to help shed light on the best approach for those patients. Flint and colleagues examined the medical records of almost 3,500 people treated for hemorrhagic strokes at 20 Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California over a decade.

The researchers found that patients who took statins in the hospital were much more likely to be alive after 30 days and more likely to leave the hospital for home or a rehabilitation facility. The researchers also found that when patients who had been taking statins prior to their hemorrhagic stroke were taken off statins in the hospital, their odds of dying increased by 84 percent.

It's not clear how statins may be so helpful to stroke patients. "It's unlikely that the cholesterol-lowering effects of the statins are responsible, if only because they simply aren't fast enough to explain better outcomes like discharge to home," Flint said. The findings from this study aren't considered definitive because it wasn't designed to prove that the statin treatment directly caused the lower risk of death.

Reference

  1. Gonzalez-Castellon MA, Marshall RS. JAMA Neurol. 2014;doi;10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.2463.
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