Background and purpose: Although statins are effective in secondary prevention of ischemic stroke, they are also associated with an increase risk of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) in certain conditions. In the TST trial (Treat Stroke to Target), we prespecified an exploration of the predictors of incident ICH.
Methods: Patients with ischemic stroke in the previous 3 months or transient ischemic attack within the previous 15 days and evidence of cerebrovascular or coronary artery atherosclerosis were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to a target LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol of <70 mg/dL or 100±10 mg/dL, using statin or ezetimibe.
Results: Among 2860 patients enrolled, 31 incident ICH occurred over a median follow-up of 3 years (18 and 13 in the lower and higher target group, 3.21/1000 patient-years [95% CI, 2.38-4.04] and 2.32/1000 patient-years [95% CI, 1.61-3.03], respectively). While there were no baseline predictors of ICH, uncontrolled hypertension (HR, 2.51 [95% CI, 1.01-6.31], P=0.041) and being on anticoagulant (HR, 2.36 [95% CI, 1.00-5.62], P=0.047)] during the trial were significant predictors. On-treatment low LDL cholesterol was not a predictor of ICH.
Conclusions: Targeting an LDL cholesterol of <70 mg/dL compared with 100±10 mg/dL in patients with atherosclerotic ischemic stroke nonsignificantly increased the risk of ICH. Incident ICHs were not associated with low LDL cholesterol. Uncontrolled hypertension and anticoagulant therapy were associated with ICH which has important clinical implications. Registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT01252875; EUDRACT identifier: 2009-A01280-57.
Keywords: anticoagulants; atherosclerosis; cholesterol, LDL; coronary artery disease; ezetimibe.