WEDNESDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Taking a cholesterol-lowering drug after a stroke or mini-stroke reduces an older person's risk of another stroke much as it does in younger patients, according to a U.S. study.
"Even though the majority of strokes and heart attacks occur in people who are 65 and older, studies have found that cholesterol-lowering drugs are not prescribed as often for older people as they are for younger people. These results show that using these drugs is just as beneficial for people who are 65 as they are for younger people," study author Dr. Seemant Chaturvedi, of Wayne State University in Detroit, said in an American Academy of Neurology news release.
The researchers looked at 4,731 people who had had a recent stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack), including 2,249 people age 65 and older and 2,482 people under age 65. In each group, about half the patients received the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin (Lipitor), and about half received a placebo. The participants were then followed for an average of 4.5 years.
Levels of "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were reduced by an average of 61 points in the over-65 group and by an average of 59 point in the under-65 group. Stroke risk was reduced by 26 percent in the younger group and by 10 percent in the older group, the study found.
"We tested to see whether age had any effect on how well the treatment worked, and we did not find any differences between young people and older people," Chaturvedi said. "It's estimated that 20 percent of the U.S. population will be 65 or older by 2010, so it's important that we identify ways to reduce the burden of strokes and other cerebrovascular diseases in this group. This is a step in that direction."
The study, which was supported by atorvastatin maker Pfizer Inc., was published in the Sept. 3 online issue of the journal Neurology.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke.
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