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article imageCan statins lower risk of artery atherosclerosis strokes?

By Tim Sandle     Dec 10, 2015 in Health
Hiroshima - The results of a new Japanese study suggest statins could reduce the occurrence of strokes that occur due to larger artery atherosclerosis.
The finding in relation to statins comes from the "The Japan Statin Treatment Against Recurrent Stroke (J-STARS)" study. The study looked at whether pravastatin, a commonly used statin, reduced the recurrence of strokes in non-cardioembolic stroke patients (essentially, patients who had not suffered with a stroke previously). The study found a measurable difference in relation to one subtype of stroke.
Pravastatin is marketed for lowering cholesterol and preventing cardiovascular disease. The medication is marketed as Pravachol or Selektine. In the body it works along two biochemical pathways to reduce lipoprtoein. The active ingredient, pravastatin, is a derivative of ML236B, a chemical identified in a fungus called Penicillium citrinum in Japan during the 1970s.
The use of statins is a controversial subject, with strong divisions between those who recommend their use (as statins reduce build-up of fatty-plaques that lead to blockages in blood vessels) and those who are concerned about side-effects or who think that pill-popping is an inadequate alternative to switching to a more healthy lifestyle.
With the new research, 1,578 patients were enlisted and randomly assigned to either a pravastatin group or a control group. None of the patients had experienced a stroke prior to the study commencing. The pravastatin dose used in this study was lower than that used in studies from the U.S., but it was the approved standard dose in Japan. The subjects were monitored over a five year period.
The key findings were:
The incidence of recurrent strokes was about 2.6 percent per year in both groups.
The onset of atherothrombotic infarction (a type of stroke) was less frequent in the pravastatin group.
No significant difference was found between the two groups for other stroke subtypes.
No significant difference was found between the two groups in relation to adverse effects.
The lead researcher, Professor Masayasu Matsumoto, from Hiroshima University, drew a distinction between different types of stroke: "Stroke is a heterogeneous disease with different etiologies with or without underlying arterial pathologies. Thus, the benefits of statin may be different depending on the subtypes of the stroke."
The research is published in the journal EBioMedicine and the paper is titled "The Japan Statin Treatment Against Recurrent Stroke (J-STARS): A Multicenter, Randomized, Open-label, Parallel-group Study."
More about Statins, Stroke, Atherosclerosis, Heart, Heart disease
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