Taking statins protects people against heart disease and stroke. This has prompted physicians to prescribe statins to people at high risk of these conditions. The researchers found that "over the two and a half year period of the study, the proportion of patients taking statins when they were admitted to hospital increased," from 16% of stroke patients in 2000 to 26% of stroke patients in 2002.
This new research showed that patients who have been taking statins prior to their stroke have a better outcome. The authors concluded: "This finding could support the early initiation of statin therapy after stroke," though they propose that further studies should be undertaken to test this hypothesis.
The researchers observed 433 patients who were admitted to the NINDS Stroke Program at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland suffering from ischemic stroke.
51% of the patients who were taking statins on admission left hospital with no significant disability (i.e. they were functionally independent). This compares with 38% of patients who were not taking statins when they were admitted to hospital.
Although prior statin use was associated with improved outcome after stroke, this research did not show that it reduced the severity of the stroke. There were no significant differences in the severity of strokes suffered by patients who had been taking statins, and those who had not.