Statin treatment intensity and cerebral vasomotor reactivity response in patients with ischemic stroke

J Neuroimaging. 2024 Jul-Aug;34(4):445-450. doi: 10.1111/jon.13200. Epub 2024 Apr 8.


Background and purpose: Cerebral vasomotor reactivity (VMR) is vital for regulating brain blood flow and maintaining neurological function. Impaired cerebral VMR is linked to a higher risk of stroke and poor post-stroke outcomes. This study explores the relationship between statin treatment intensity and VMR in patients with ischemic stroke.

Methods: Seventy-four consecutive patients (mean age 69.3 years, 59.4% male) with recent ischemic stroke were included. VMR levels were assessed 4 weeks after the index stroke using transcranial Doppler, measuring the breath-holding index (BHI) as an indicator of the percentage increase in middle cerebral artery blood flow (higher BHI signifies higher VMR). Multistep multivariable regression models, adjusted for demographic and cerebrovascular risk factors, were employed to examine the association between statin intensity treatment and BHI levels.

Results: Forty-one patients (55%) received high-intensity statins. Patients receiving high-intensity statins exhibited a mean BHI of 0.85, whereas those on low-intensity statins had a mean BHI of 0.67 (mean difference 0.18, 95% confidence interval: 0.13-0.22, p-value<.001). This significant difference persisted in the fully adjusted model (adjusted mean values: 0.84 vs. 0.68, p-value: .008). No significant differences were observed in BHI values within patient groups on high-intensity or low-intensity statin therapy (all p-values>.05). Furthermore, no significant association was found between baseline low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels and BHI.

Conclusions: High-intensity statin treatment post-ischemic stroke is linked to elevated VMR independent of demographic and clinical characteristics, including baseline LDL level. Further research is needed to explore statin therapy's impact on preserving brain vascular function beyond lipid-lowering effects.

Keywords: breath‐holding index; statin; stroke; transcranial Doppler; vasomotor reactivity.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation* / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors* / pharmacology
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Ischemic Stroke* / diagnostic imaging
  • Ischemic Stroke* / drug therapy
  • Ischemic Stroke* / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / drug effects
  • Middle Cerebral Artery / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial*
  • Vasomotor System / drug effects
  • Vasomotor System / physiopathology


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors