Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Help Older Americans Prevent Stroke
A recent study, led by Seemant Chaturvedi, MD, found that cholesterol-lowering drugs can help older Americans stave off heart attacks and strokes. The research team at Wayne State University published their findings, funded by Pfizer Inc., in the September 3, 2008 online issue of Neurology. Pfizer Inc. is the manufacturer of atorvastatin, a statin used for lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Up until now, most cholesterol lowering drugs were prescribed to younger Americans. For some reason, they are not commonly prescribed to those 65 and older. Now that it is found the drugs can help with strokes and heart attacks, doctors may be rethinking their strategies and prescribing them to older Americans as well. Estimations say that by 2010, nearly 20% of the United States population will be 65 and older.
The study had 4,731 participants, all 18 years or older, divided into two groups. All participants had experienced a transient ischemic attack or stroke a short period before the study. One group was 65 and older, with 2,249 people in the group. The average age for this group was 72 years old. The second group was younger than 65 and included 2,482 participants. The average age of this group was 54 years old.
Half of each group were given placebos and half were given atorvastatin. The study was a multi-year study, with each participant studied for an average of four and half years. The researchers found that the risk of developing a stroke was lowered 26 percent in the younger group and 10 percent in the group age 65 and older. In addition, both groups saw lowered levels of the bad type of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein. The younger group saw a 59 point decrease and the older group saw a 61 point decrease.
The study was part of a larger study known as Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL).
The study findings are very important, due to the fact that now cholesterol-lowering drugs can help cerebrovascular events such as stroke. This finding allows doctors to help reduce chances of stroke in older Americans, and not just younger Americans.
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