HomeAboutusEditorial BoardCurrent issuearchivesSearch articlesInstructions for authorsSubscription detailsAdvertise

  Login  | Users online: 6238

   Ahead of print articles    Bookmark this page Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font size Increase font size  

 Table of Contents    
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 39  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 214-217

Pre and post-stroke use of statins improves stroke outcome

Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

Date of Submission10-Sep-2014
Date of Acceptance16-Sep-2014
Date of Web Publication15-Oct-2014

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Majaz Moonis
Professor of Neurology, Director Stroke Services, UMass Memorial Center, Worcester - 01655
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-0218.143021

Rights and Permissions



Introduction: Although there is sufficient evidence that HMG CoA Reductase Inhibitors reduce stroke recurrence in patients with or ischemic heart disease, it remains unclear whether they also improve outcomes given before or after stroke onset and whether such an effect is more robust with pre-stroke or post-stroke use of statins. Materials and Methods: We carried out a retrospective analysis of a large University Health Consortium Database. Patients with statin use before or after stroke onset were included in the analysis. Twenty patients discontinued statins after stroke onset. The outcome measures were discharge home or long-term care facility and/or death within 45 days. Results: Patients with prior statin use were more likely to be discharged home (1.67, CI 1.12-2.49), as were post stroke statin patients who had a more robust effect OR 2.63, CI 1.61-4.53). Conclusions: Patients started on statins after stroke were more likely to be discharged home versus patients already on statins before stroke onset. However, both groups were also more likely to be discharged home than those patients not on statins.

Keywords: HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, ischemic stroke, outcome

How to cite this article:
Moonis M, Kumar R, Henninger N, Kane K, Fisher M. Pre and post-stroke use of statins improves stroke outcome. Indian J Community Med 2014;39:214-7

How to cite this URL:
Moonis M, Kumar R, Henninger N, Kane K, Fisher M. Pre and post-stroke use of statins improves stroke outcome. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 Jun 30];39:214-7. Available from: https://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2014/39/4/214/143021

   Introduction Top

HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, commonly known as statins, are widely used lipid lowering agents. In addition to their effect on cholesterol levels statins appear to have additional independent effects such as antithrombotic and neuroprotective properties. [1],[2],[3] The beneficial effect of statins on stroke prevention have been well-documented in both patients at risk for cardiac events as well as in patient without prior-known coronary disease. [4] However, the effect of statins on acute stroke outcome have not been extensively studied. Limited observational studies suggest that pretreatment with statin improves functional outcome after ischemic stroke as measured by Modified Rankin Scale (mRS) and Barthel Index (BI). [5],[6] Furthermore, pre-stroke statin use has been associated with improved survival following ischemic stoke. [7],[8] Whether post-stroke treatment with statins is associated with improved outcome is unknown. In the present study we investigated whether the timing of statin use, prior to or following stroke onset, affected outcome after ischemic stroke as compared to no statin use as measured by the odds of discharge home versus need for long-term care (LTC) or death within 45 days.

   Materials and Methods Top

A large nationwide database of stroke patients, the University Health Consortium (UHC) database 2003-2007 was used to identify patients retrospectively. Inclusion criteria were age >18 years and diagnosis of acute ischemic stroke. Patients who received thrombolytic treatment were included as thrombolytic use as one of the variables included in our analysis.

Demographic characteristics for each patient were recorded including age, gender, as well as information on prior use of antihypertensives, antiplatelet agents, and pre-admission statin use. Stroke risk factors were also recorded including presence of hypertension, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, previous transient ischemic attack (TIA) or ischemic stroke, and hyperlipidemia. Initial stroke severity was reported using the National Institutes of Health stroke scale (NIHSS). We stratified patients into those on statins before stroke onset versus started on statins after stroke onset (within 48 hours of admission) and compared these with those patients that had never been exposed to statins. Favorable outcome was defined as discharge home while unfavorable outcome was considered discharge to LTC or death within 45 days.

Statistical analysis

The dataset was analyzed using a univariate and multivariate analyses. χ2 test was utilized for all variables except continuous variables such age or initial mean arterial pressure (MAP), for which t test was performed. The following factors were included age, gender, stroke severity, vascular risk factors, medications including statins, angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and antiplatelet agents. Since initial stroke severity can influence these results, we included stroke severity as one of the variables in the analysis. Significant univariate predictors, P < 0.05, were included in the final multivariate step-wise binary logistic regression analysis.

   Results Top

Baseline characteristics including age, gender, presence of hypertension, etc., are shown in [Table 1]. Stroke severity for the entire population is shown in [Table 2]. Two-hundred and thirty-two patients were on statins prior-to-stroke onset, 188 were initiated on statin post-stroke while 1198 patients did not take statins at any time.
Table 1: Demographics

Click here to view
Table 2: Stroke features

Click here to view

Univariate analysis yielded eight factors associated with significant outcomes [Table 3]. These included gender (P = 0.025), history of hyperlipidemia (P = 0.004), previous stroke or TIA (P < 0.001), post-stroke complications (P < 0.001), age (P = 0.02), initial MAP (P = 0.019) statin use, pre or post-stroke (P < 0.001), and stroke severity (P < 0.001). Final multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that both pre- and post-stroke stain used were significantly associated with discharge home. Pre-stroke statin use was associated with a 1.67 times greater chance of being discharged home compared to patients who were not treated with statins at any time. This outcome was maintained in patients initiated on statin therapy after stroke onset. Post-stroke statin use was in fact associated with a higher likelihood of discharge home, 2.63 times probability compared to untreated patients. Predictors of a less favorable outcome included stroke severity, previous stroke or TIA, and post-stroke complications. Moderate and severe stroke had a 4.55 and 16.13 probability, of discharge to LTC or death respectively. Previous stroke or TIA had a 1.81 and post-stroke complication a 3.12 probability of poor outcome [Table 3] and [Table 4].
Table 3: Univariate analysis of demographics and risk factors

Click here to view
Table 4: Multivariate analysis to determine the factors predictive of outcome

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

The results of our analysis suggest that both pre- and post-stroke statin use are associated with a more favorable outcome, defined as likelihood of discharge home versus long-term care, after acute ischemic stroke. Pre-stroke statin use was associated with a 1.67 times greater chance of being discharged home compared to patients who were not treated with statins at any time. This benefit was also seen with post-stroke statin use, which was associated with 2.63 times greater probability of discharge home compared to untreated patients.

Our results are in agreement with previous observational studies that have shown improvement in both functional outcome and mortality in stroke patients pretreated with statins. Marti-Fabregas' et al. found improved functional outcome, defined as Barthel Index greater than 95, at 3 months in patients using statins at time of ischemic stroke onset. [5] Elkind et al. similarly found a lower ninety day mortality in patients taking lipid lowering agents in a large population based study in northern Manhattan. [7]

In agreement with more recent studies using databases and population-based interventions [9],[10] the present study also included patients in whom statins were initiated within 48 hours of the onset of stroke. The benefits of statins were not only maintained in this group, the effect was more robust than that seen in the pre-stroke statin use group. Similar results were seen in a previous observational study showing favorable outcome (mRS less than or equal to 2) at 12 weeks in patients treated with statins after stroke onset. [11] A trend toward improved outcome in patients treated with statins at admission was also seen in the observational study alluded to earlier by Marti-Fabregas et al. [5] However, that study had only a small number of patients; 19 that began statins after stroke onset and the study was not designed to explore this question. [9],[10]

Possible explanations for the immediate benefits may be related to enhancement of endothelial nitric oxide synthesis. Endothelial nitric oxide inhibits platelet aggregation and leukocyte activation and regulates region blood flow and blood pressure. These effects may result in reduced infarct volume, which may translate into favorable outcome. [12] Statins have also been shown to reduce severity of acute stroke which again may translate into increased likelihood of discharge to home. [13] Improved outcome may also be related to enhancement of collateralization. This mechanism has been demonstrated angiographically in patients treated with stains. [14]

Mechanisms of delayed benefit may include effects of statins on promoting angiogenesis, synaptogenesis, and neurogenesis when initiated after stroke onset. This mechanism has been demonstrated in animal models where statins have been shown to induce endothelial vascular growth factor and cerebral cGMP which promote angiogenesis and neurogenesis when started 1 day after stroke onset. [15] It is also possible that the pre-stroke-treated patients exhibited a saturation effect on these potential enhancers of post-stroke recovery. Our study did not account for patients in whom statins were stopped at hospital admission and this may have confounded the results.

The present study has several strengths. It included a diverse patient population from a nationwide database. By using discharge to home as our primary outcome measure we were able to assess the potential short-term benefits of statins in acute stroke. In contrast, previous studies have mainly looked at potential long-term benefits of statin use such as secondary prevention of stroke and long-term functional outcome. [4],[5],[16],[17],[18],[19]

This study is limited by its retrospective design. As mentioned previously, there was some data that was not available to us for review such as percentage of patients on statins prior to stroke onset in which statins were held at admission and this may have confounded our results. In addition we did not have data on stroke subtype available to us including cardioembolic, lacunar, or atherosclerotic. It is possible that patients with presumed stroke of atherosclerotic origin may have benefited more from statins as they have been shown to have effects on plaque stabilization.

In conclusion, we have found that both pre-stroke and post-stroke statin use in the may be associated with improved outcome after acute ischemic stroke. Post-stroke statin use seems to have a more robust effect on outcome. These findings may have treatment implications. However, further studies including prospective studies are required to confirm these findings before treatment recommendations can be made.

   References Top

Gertz K, Laufs U, Lindauer U, Nickenig G, Bohm M, Dirnagl U, et al. Withdrawal of statin treatment abrogates stroke protection in mice. Stroke 2003;34:551-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
Koh KK. Effects of statins on vascular wall: vasomotor function, inflammation, and plaque stability. Cardiovasc Res. 2000;47:648-57.  Back to cited text no. 2
Vaughan CJ. Prevention of stroke and dementia with statins: Effects beyond lipid lowering. Am J Cardiol 2003;91:23B-9B.  Back to cited text no. 3
Amarenco P, Bogousslavsky J, Callahan A, 3rd, Goldstein LB, Hennerici M, Rudolph AE, et al. High-dose atorvastatin after stroke or transient ischemic attack. N Engl J Med 2006;355:549-59.  Back to cited text no. 4
Marti-Fabregas J, Gomis M, Arboix A, Aleu A, Pagonabarraga J, Belvis R, et al. Favorable outcome of ischemic stroke in patients pretreated with statins. Stroke 2004;35:1117-21.  Back to cited text no. 5
Yoon SS, Dambrosia J, Chalela J, Ezzeddine M, Warach S, Haymore J, et al. Rising statin use and effect on ischemic stroke outcome. BMC Med 2004;2:4.  Back to cited text no. 6
Elkind MS, Flint AC, Sciacca RR, Sacco RL. Lipid-lowering agent use at ischemic stroke onset is associated with decreased mortality. Neurology 2005;65:253-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
Aslanyan S, Weir CJ, McInnes GT, Reid JL, Walters MR, Lees KR. Statin administration prior to ischaemic stroke onset and survival: Exploratory evidence from matched treatment-control study. Eur J Neurol 2005;12:493-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
Ni Chroinin D, Callaly EL, Duggan J, Merwick A, Hannon N, Sheehan O, et al. Association between acute statin therapy, survival, and improved functional outcome after ischemic stroke: the North Dublin Population Stroke Study. Stroke 2011;42:1021-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
Flint AC, Kamel H, Navi BB, Rao VA, Faigeles BS, Conell C, et al. Statin use during ischemic stroke hospitalization is strongly associated with improved poststroke survival. Stroke 2012;43:147-54.  Back to cited text no. 10
Moonis M, Kane K, Schwiderski U, Sandage BW, Fisher M. HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors improve acute ischemic stroke outcome. Stroke 2005;36:1298-300.  Back to cited text no. 11
Laufs U, Gertz K, Dirnagl U, Bohm M, Nickenig G, Endres M. Rosuvastatin, a new HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor, upregulates endothelial nitric oxide synthase and protects from ischemic stroke in mice. Brain Res. 2002;942:23-30.  Back to cited text no. 12
Greisenegger S, Mullner M, Tentschert S, Lang W, Lalouschek W. Effect of pretreatment with statins on the severity of acute ischemic cerebrovascular events. J Neurol Sci 2004;221:5-10.  Back to cited text no. 13
Ovbiagele B, Saver JL, Starkman S, Kim D, Ali LK, Jahan R, et al. Statin enhancement of collateralization in acute stroke. Neurology 2007;68:2129-31.  Back to cited text no. 14
Chen J, Zhang ZG, Li Y, Wang Y, Wang L, Jiang H, et al. Statins induce angiogenesis, neurogenesis, and synaptogenesis after stroke. Ann Neurol 2003;53:743-51.  Back to cited text no. 15
Pedersen TR, Kjekshus J, Pyorala K, Olsson AG, Cook TJ, Musliner TA, et al. Effect of simvastatin on ischemic signs and symptoms in the Scandinavian simvastatin survival study (4S). Am J Cardiol 1998;81:333-5.  Back to cited text no. 16
Plehn JF, Davis BR, Sacks FM, Rouleau JL, Pfeffer MA, Bernstein V, et al. Reduction of stroke incidence after myocardial infarction with pravastatin: the Cholesterol and Recurrent Events (CARE) study. The Care Investigators. Circulation 1999;99:216-23.  Back to cited text no. 17
MRC/BHF Heart Protection Study of cholesterol lowering with simvastatin in 20,536 high-risk individuals: a randomised placebo-controlled trial. Lancet 2002;360:7-22.  Back to cited text no. 18
Waters DD, Schwartz GG, Olsson AG, Zeiher A, Oliver MF, Ganz P, et al. Effects of atorvastatin on stroke in patients with unstable angina or non-Q-wave myocardial infarction: a Myocardial Ischemia Reduction with Aggressive Cholesterol Lowering (MIRACL) substudy. Circulation 2002;106:1690-5.  Back to cited text no. 19


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

This article has been cited by
1 The Benefits and Risks of Statin Therapy in Ischemic Stroke: A Review of the Literature
Wang Zhao,Zhi-Jie Xiao,Shui-Ping Zhao
Neurology India. 2019; 67(4): 983
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Efficacy of High-Dose and Low-Dose Simvastatin on Vascular Oxidative Stress and Neurological Outcomes in Patient with Acute Ischemic Stroke: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Parallel, Controlled Trial
Nattaphol Uransilp,Pannawat Chaiyawatthanananthn,Sombat Muengtaweepongsa
Neurology Research International. 2018; 2018: 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Hyperlipidemia in Stroke Pathobiology and Therapy: Insights and Perspectives
Romain Menet,Maxime Bernard,Ayman ElAli
Frontiers in Physiology. 2018; 9
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Statins in Acute Ischemic Stroke: A Systematic Review
Keun-Sik Hong,Ji Sung Lee
Journal of Stroke. 2015; 17(3): 282
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Print this article  Email this article


    Similar in PUBMED
    Search Pubmed for
    Search in Google Scholar for
  Related articles
    Article in PDF (380 KB)
    Citation Manager
    Access Statistics
    Reader Comments
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

    Materials and Me...
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded301    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 4    

Recommend this journal

  Sitemap | What's New | Copyright and Disclaimer | Privacy Notice
  2007 - Indian Journal of Community Medicine | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
  Online since 15th September, 2007