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Statins May Prevent Stroke, Another Drug Improves Outcome

Last Updated: April 17, 2009.

Statins may help prevent stroke among high-risk patients, but when stroke occurs, controlling the patient's post-stroke body temperature may help improve the outcome, according to separate studies reported in the May issue of The Lancet Neurology.

FRIDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Statins may help prevent stroke among high-risk patients, but when stroke occurs, controlling the patient's post-stroke body temperature may help improve the outcome, according to separate studies reported in the May issue of The Lancet Neurology.

In one study, Pierre Amarenco, M.D., of Paris-Diderot University in France, and a colleague conducted a meta-analysis of 24 randomized trials of statins totaling 165,792 patients at high risk for stroke. Stroke incidence was reduced by 18 percent in the statin-treated groups in comparison to control groups. The researchers calculated that for each 1 mmol/L (39 mg/dL) decrease in low-density lipids cholesterol, there was a 21.1 percent reduction in relative risk for stroke.

In the other study, Heleen M. den Hertog, M.D., of Erasmus MC University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues randomized 1,400 stroke patients with body temperatures between 36 and 39 degrees Celsius to receive either the fever remedy paracetamol (n = 697) or placebo (n = 703) with study participants and investigators blinded to treatment. The researchers found that treatment with paracetamol to control body temperature was associated with improved outcome. Though 37 percent of treated patients improved beyond expectation, the authors conclude the study did not provide enough evidence to warrant routine use of high-dose paracetamol for stroke.

"If such an effect can be confirmed, a simple, safe, and cheap treatment with a long time window for start of therapy will be available for patients with acute ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage," Hertog and colleagues write.

Amarenco participates in the Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction of Cholesterol Level sponsored by Pfizer and reports a financial relationship with the company, which markets atorvastatin.

Abstract - Amarenco
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Abstract - Hertog
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