Cholesterol Management Key for Patients at Risk for Stroke

Adhering to guidelines could prevent many attacks, study finds

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THURSDAY, March 1, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Many American stroke patients have cholesterol levels higher than the national guidelines. And a number of these people may not have had a stroke if their cholesterol had been properly managed, a new study says.

Researchers found that 27 percent of 1,040 people hospitalized for stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA, a short-term reduction in blood flow to the brain) had cholesterol levels higher than national guidelines.

"If this high cholesterol had been recognized and the guidelines been followed, then 93 percent of these people would have been treated with cholesterol-lowering drugs," Dr. Eric E. Smith, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Stroke Service in Boston, said in a prepared statement.

"Studies have shown that these drugs reduce the risk of stroke, so it's probable that, if the guidelines had been followed, at least some of these strokes and TIAs would never have happened," Smith said.

The study also found that 30 percent of the stroke/TIA patients previously diagnosed with high cholesterol, and 19 percent of those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, did not have ideal cholesterol levels, which are based on a person's risk of stroke or heart disease.

"Unfortunately, we found that the people who were at the greatest risk for a stroke or heart attack were also the least likely to be at the guideline-recommended cholesterol levels," Smith said.

He said the study findings suggest that all people hospitalized with stroke or TIA should have their cholesterol levels checked, and those with high levels should be treated to lower their cholesterol.

The study findings were published in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal Neurology.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke prevention.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, February 2007

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