Review of the SPARCL trial and its subanalyses
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The Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) study is a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled trial that was designed to determine whether 80 mg/d of atorvastatin reduced the risk of fatal or nonfatal stroke in patients who had previously experienced a stroke or transient ischemic attack. It is unique in that it is the only trial to study this cohort of patients with no known coronary heart disease. The review recaps the results of the primary SPARCL data and discusses the findings of subsequent analyses that extend the conclusions from the study. Atorvastatin reduced the risk of stroke to a clinically persuasive degree. This benefit was present despite a small increase in risk of intracerebral hemorrhage. Factors were identified in SPARCL that might reduce this risk if implemented. Further subanalyses addressed other questions relative to stroke profile of benefit and potential mechanisms of statin action. SPARCL has established that statins have an important role in secondary stroke prevention.
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