Giving stroke victims cholesterol-lowering statins while they are still in the hospital increases the likelihood that they will survive the stroke and be able to go home, researchers reported Tuesday. It has been known that giving the drugs to a stroke victim lowers the odds of having a second stroke, said Dr. Alexander C. Flint, a neurologist at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, Calif. But it has not been clear how soon to begin the drugs after the initial stroke. The new report in the journal Neurology suggests that the drugs should be given immediately.
Flint and his colleagues examined the medical records of 12,689 patients admitted to Kaiser hospitals in Northern California diagnosed with a stroke over a seven-year period. The records showed what drugs the patients received, when they received them and what the outcome of their cases were.
The team found that 57% of the patients who received statins in the hospital were able to return home, rather than dying or being referred to a rehabilitation center or nursing home. In contrast, only 47% of those who did not receive the drugs in the hospital were able to return home. Six percent of those who used statins before or during the hospital stay died in the hospital, compared to 11% of those who did not.
The study was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kaiser Permanente Community Benefits Research Fund.