Statins appear safe to take after a stroke

Statins are prescribed to more than 80% of people who have ischemic strokes to prevent further cardiovascular problems. But some doctors are reluctant to prescribe the cholesterol-lowering drugs to stroke patients because they fear statins can cause bleeding in the brain called a hemorrhagic stroke. However, a new study reassures that the practice appears sound.

Researchers in Canada reviewed a large patient database to compare people who had an ischemic stroke and received statins to those who did not get the medication. They found no significant difference in the two groups regarding the rates of hemorrhagic stroke.

Other studies have suggested that statin use does increase the risk of brain bleeding, so more studies may be needed to clarify the issue, said the author of an editorial accompanying the paper, published Monday in the Archives of Neurology. People at higher risk of a brain hemorrhage may want to avoid statins. Patients and their family members should be told about the possible risks of statin therapy after a stroke, said Dr. Philip B. Gorelick of the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

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