Background: The benefit of statins in patients with acute aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage is unclear. We aimed to determine whether simvastatin 40 mg could improve the long-term outcome in patients with this disorder.
Methods: In this international, multicentre, randomised, double-blind trial, we enrolled patients aged 18-65 years with confirmatory evidence of an aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage and presenting less than 96 h from ictus from 35 acute neurosurgical centres in nine countries. Patients were randomly allocated (1:1) to receive either simvastatin 40 mg or placebo once a day for up to 21 days. We used a computer-generated randomisation code to randomise patients in every centre by blocks of ten (five simvastatin, five placebo). Participants and investigators were masked to treatment assignment. The primary outcome was the distribution of modified Rankin Scale (mRS) score obtained by questionnaire at 6 months. Analyses were done on the intention-to-treat population. This trial has been completed and is registered with Current Controlled Trials, number ISRCTN75948817.
Findings: Between Jan 6, 2007, and Feb 1, 2013, apart from the period between May 15, 2009, and Feb 8, 2011, when recruitment was on hold, 803 patients were randomly assigned to receive either simvastatin 40 mg (n=391) or placebo (n=412). All patients were included in the intention-to-treat population. 782 (97%) patients had outcome data recorded at 6 months, of whom 560 (72%) were classed as having a favourable outcome, mRS 0-2 (271 patients in the simvastatin group vs 289 in the placebo group). The primary ordinal analysis of the mRS, adjusted for age and World Federation of Neurological Surgeons grade on admission, gave a common odds ratio (OR) of 0·97, 95% CI 0·75-1·25; p=0·803. At 6 months, we recorded 37 (10%) deaths in the simvastatin group compared with 35 (9%) in the placebo group (log-rank p=0·592). 70 (18%) serious adverse events were reported in the simvastatin group compared with 74 (18%) in the placebo group. No suspected unexpected serious adverse reactions were reported.
Interpretation: The STASH trial did not detect any benefit in the use of simvastatin for long-term or short-term outcome in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid haemorrhage. Despite demonstrating no safety concerns, we conclude that patients with subarachnoid haemorrhage should not be treated routinely with simvastatin during the acute stages.
Funding: British Heart Foundation.
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