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Statins cut risk of stroke

GPs have been urged to step up their prescribing of statins to patients at high risk of stroke after a landmark study found they cut the incidence of ischaemic stroke by one-third.

Study leader Professor

Rory Collins ­ whose findings from the Heart Protection Study were published in The Lancet last week ­ said: 'This is a stunning result with massive public health implications.'

Professor Collins, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Oxford, said guidelines should be updated and funding made available to cover the likely increase in statin prescribing.

The five-year study randomised 20,000 patients, all with a history of either stroke or cerebrovascular disease or another risk factor for stroke, to 40mg/day of simvastatin or a placebo. Simvastatin use cut the risk of stroke by 25 per cent ­ but the researchers said the risk reduction was likely

to be nearer a third after

adjusting for non-compliance.

Professor Collins said: 'Statin therapy reduces the incidence not only of heart attacks but also of ischaemic strokes, with no adverse effect on haemorrhagic strokes, even among individuals who do not have high cholesterol.'

The British Hypertension Society is expected to lower the threshold for prescribing statins to cover all patients with a 10-year coronary risk greater than 15 per cent. The guidelines are due this month.

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