High-Dose Statin Therapy for Secondary Prevention of Stroke: Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels Study Review

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It has been shown that HMG-CoA (3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A) reductase inhibitors (statins) lower the incidence of a first stroke in patients with coronary heart disease, diabetes, or risk factors for cardiovascular disease. However, it is unknown whether statin therapy could reduce the incidence of a second stroke in patients without evidence of heart disease. This article reviews the results of the Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels trial, a prospective, randomized, multicentered, double-blind, placebo-controlled, international trial designed to examine the effect of high-dose atorvastatin on secondary stroke prevention. Trial participants (4,731) had experienced a stroke or transient ischemic attack within 1 to 6 months before randomization into the study. Over the 5-year follow-up period, incidence of second stroke or transient ischemic attack was significantly reduced in the atorvastatin treatment group compared with the placebo group. In addition, high-dose atorvastatin therapy significantly decreased major coronary artery and other negative cardiovascular events. The reduction in incidence of secondary stroke was specific to ischemic stroke as opposed to hemorrhagic stroke. Results of the trial are clinically significant and support extension of the latest secondary stroke prevention guidelines to include statin therapy for those patients without coronary heart disease.

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