Purpose: To assess if lipid-lowering interventions (statins, fibrates, resins, n-3 fatty acids, diet) prevent nonfatal and fatal strokes in patients with and without coronary heart disease.
Methods: We systematically searched the literature up to August 2002 to retrieve all randomized controlled trials of lipid-lowering interventions that reported nonfatal and fatal stroke and mortality data. The search yielded 65 trials with 200,607 patients for a meta-analysis to determine whether treatment effects differed between types of lipid-lowering interventions and between patient samples with and without coronary heart disease.
Results: The risk ratio for nonfatal and fatal stroke for statins as compared with control interventions was 0.82 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.76 to 0.90). The corresponding risk ratios for statins as compared with control were 0.75 (95% CI: 0.65 to 0.87) for patients with coronary heart disease and 0.77 (95% CI: 0.62 to 0.95) for those without coronary heart disease. The confidence intervals of risk ratios for nonfatal and fatal stroke associated with fibrates, resins, n-3 fatty acids, and diet all included 1, as did the confidence intervals for these interventions in patients with and without coronary heart disease. Weighted meta-regression analysis suggested a stronger association of stroke reduction with statin treatment than with the extent of cholesterol reduction.
Conclusion: This meta-analysis suggests that statins reduce the incidence of stroke in patients with and without coronary heart disease.