Statins and intracerebral hemorrhage: a retrospective cohort study

Arch Neurol. 2012 Jan;69(1):39-45. doi: 10.1001/archneurol.2011.228. Epub 2011 Sep 12.


Background: A recent post hoc analysis of a large randomized trial in patients with cerebrovascular disease suggested that statins may increase the risk of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH).

Objective: To examine the association between statins and ICH in patients with recent ischemic stroke in a population-based setting.

Design: Retrospective propensity-matched cohort study with accrual from July 1, 1994, to March 31, 2008.

Setting: Ontario, Canada.

Participants: A total of 17 872 patients aged 66 years and older who initiated statin therapy following acute ischemic stroke and were followed for a median of 4.2 years (interquartile range, 2.4-5.0 years). To enhance causal inference, we conducted several tests of specificity to exclude healthy user bias in this sample. Main Outcome Measure Hospitalization or emergency department visit for ICH defined using validated diagnosis coding.

Results: Overall, 213 episodes of ICH occurred. In the primary analysis comparing statin users with nonusers, we found no association between statins and ICH (hazard ratio = 0.87; 95% confidence interval, 0.65-1.17). Subgroup and dose-response analyses yielded similar results. In tests of specificity, statin therapy was not associated with bone mineral density testing, vitamin D or B(12) screening, gastrointestinal endoscopy, or elective knee arthroplasty, suggesting that results were not due to healthy user bias or differences in quality of care.

Conclusion: Statin exposure following ischemic stroke was not associated with ICH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Canada
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / chemically induced*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stroke / drug therapy*


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors