Objective: Treatment with statins reduces the risk of ischemic stroke among patients at increased risk for vascular disease. Recent experimental data suggest neuroprotective properties of statins in acute cerebral ischemia. We investigated whether a premedication with statins is associated with a better outcome in patients with acute ischemic cerebrovascular events.
Methods: Within a cross-sectional study, nested in a cohort we identified 1691 patients with a recent ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack. Clinical severity of the vascular event was evaluated by the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) after 1 week. By means of multivariate logistic regression modeling, we determined the influence of prior statin use on stroke severity with adjustment for potential confounding factors.
Results: Severe stroke, defined as a modified Rankin Scale of 5 or 6 (n=231; 14%), was less frequent in patients receiving statin treatment before the event (6% vs. 14%, OR=0.37; 95% CI 0.19 to 0.74; p=0.004). This association remained significant after adjustment for confounding factors. We found a significant interaction between the presence of diabetes and the effect of pretreatment with statins on stroke outcome. Of the patients with diabetes, none of those on statin treatment but 16% of those without a statin had a bad outcome. After exclusion of the group of diabetic patients with prior statin medication, the protective effect was reduced and not statistically significant anymore.
Conclusions: Pretreatment with statins seems to be associated with reduced clinical severity in patients with acute ischemic cerebrovascular events, particularly in patients with diabetes.