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Stopping Statin Treatment May Increase Death After Stroke

Continued statin therapy advised immediately after acute ischemic stroke

TUESDAY, Aug. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Stroke patients who stop taking statins immediately after hospitalization for stroke run a greater risk of death or dependency, according to a report in the Aug. 28 issue of Neurology.

Jose Castillo, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and colleagues compared 43 acute ischemic stroke patients receiving 20 milligrams of atorvastatin a day for three days to 46 patients withdrawing from statins after experiencing a stroke. Participants were also compared with 126 stroke patients never treated with statins.

The researchers found that after three months, patients withdrawing from statins exhibited a mean 37.63 mL larger infarct volume, a 4.66 greater mortality or dependency risk, and an 8.67-fold increase in the risk for early neurologic deterioration compared to those not withdrawing from statins. Withdrawing patients had a 43.51 mL mean larger infarct volume and a 19.01-fold increase in the risk for early neurologic deterioration compared to those never treated with statins.

"Statin withdrawal is associated with increased risk of death or dependency at 90 days," the authors write. "Hence, this treatment should be continued in the acute phase of ischemic stroke."

Three authors are advisors to Pfizer.

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