Indian-American says cholesterol drugs lower stroke risk for elderly

September 8th, 2008 - 2:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 8 (IANS) The elderly who take a cholesterol drug after a stroke or mini-stroke lower their risk of having another, just like younger people in the same situation, according to a study led by an Indian-American scientist. “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,” said study author Seemant Chaturvedi, of Wayne State University, Detroit and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.

“These results show that using these drugs is just as beneficial for people who are over 65 as they are for younger people.”

The study involved 4,731 people aged 18 and older who had a recent stroke or transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke. The 2,249 people aged 65 and above were in one group, with an average age of 72, and the 2,482 people under age 65 made up the other group, with an average age of 54.

Within each group, about half of the people received the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin and about half received a placebo. The participants were then followed for an average of four-and-a-half years.

LDL, or low-density lipoprotein “bad” cholesterol, was lowered by an average of 61 points during the study for the elderly group, and by 59 points for the younger group. Those in the younger group reduced their risk for another stroke by 26 percent; the risk was reduced by 10 percent in the elderly group.

“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 US 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 was part of a large study called the Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) trial.

The research was published in the online issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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