Brian Henry or Trish Moreis
AHA News Media Relations
Omni Rosen Hotel
NR 98-4849 (StrokeConf/CARE)
ORLANDO, Feb. 7 -- New data reveal that the cholesterol-lowering drug pravastatin (Pravachol) can significantly reduce the risk of a stroke or ministroke in people who have previously suffered a heart attack.
An analysis of the Cholesterol and Recurrent Events (CARE) study found a 32 percent reduction in strokes and a 27 percent reduction in either strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) -- "miniature" strokes, which can last from few minutes to an hour or more -- among participants treated with the drug as compared to those who received a placebo.
The results were presented here today at the American Heart Association's 23rd International Joint Conference on Stroke and Cerebral Circulation by Jonathan F. Plehn, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School and director of the cardiac ultrasound laboratory at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.
The vast majority of strokes occur when the vessels providing blood and nutrients to the brain are blocked by cholesterol-laden plaque, which breaks free from the inner lining of the heart's coronary artery. Heart attacks result when coronary arteries are obstructed by atherosclerosis.
"The key point is that if you have a heart attack, you are at high risk of developing a stroke. If you have a stroke, you are at high risk of developing a heart attack," says Plehn. "So it makes sense to be aggressive with a strong drug to lower cholesterol in people who've had a heart attack or stroke because cholesterol reduction should reduce the amount of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries and in the carotid arteries leading to the brain."