DURHAM, N.C. -- In people who have experienced a stroke, but who have no known history of coronary heart disease, beginning regular treatment with the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin soon after the stroke can reduce the risk of recurrent stroke by 16 percent, according to a five-year study led by an international team that includes a researcher at Duke University Medical Center.
The results of the study, called the Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) trial, appear in the August 10, 2006, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was funded by Pfizer, the manufacturer of atorvastatin.
"This is the first study to demonstrate that treatment with a statin, a type of cholesterol-lowering drug, can reduce the risk of strokes in patients who have had a recent stroke or a transient ischemic attack and who have no known history of coronary heart disease," said Larry B. Goldstein, M.D., director of the Duke Stroke Center and a member of the SPARCL steering committee.
A transient ischemic attack is similar to a stroke, but is of shorter duration and severity. Often referred to as a ministroke, it is considered a warning sign or prelude for stroke.
"These results will have a major effect on how people are treated following a stroke," Goldstein said. "The findings are very important for physicians and patients because they show that the addition of this drug to other treatments further reduces the risk of another stroke, which is a pretty big step in improving what we can do for stroke patients."
Previous studies, Goldstein said, have demonstrated that atorvastatin and other drugs within the class of medications called statins could reduce risk of stroke in patients who have a history of coronary disease. Coronary heart disease is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood to the heart, usually due to a build-up of cholesterol. It is a leading cause of dea
Contact: Tracey Koepke
Duke University Medical Center