Statins in Ischemic Stroke Prevention: What Have We Learned in the Post-SPARCL (The Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels) Decade?
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Purpose of review
We describe the current status of lipid-lowering therapies for ischemic stroke prevention. The SPARCL trial published in 2006 has been a landmark study in vascular neurology. The trial demonstrated that high-dose atorvastatin prevents recurrent stroke, and led the AHA/ASA to recommend statin therapy for patients with stroke or TIA of atherosclerotic origin.
Recently, the J-STARS study demonstrated that therapy with low-dose pravastatin reduced atherothrombotic infarction incidence among patients with prior ischemic stroke. Besides, several trials have shown improved stroke outcomes with non-statin lipid-lowering medications: IMPROVE-IT with ezetimibe on top of simvastatin and PCSK9 inhibitors—FOURIER with evocolumab and ODYSSEY-OUTCOMES with alirocumab—on top of statin therapy.
LDL-cholesterol remains the primary lipid treatment target for reduction of stroke risk. Randomized trials have shown that each reduction of 40 mg/dL in the level of LDL-cholesterol reduces the stroke risk by approximately one quarter, and further, reductions in LDL-cholesterol levels have shown to produce additional reductions in stroke risk. Currently, we have evidence of benefit for adding non-statin lipid-modifying therapies to statins to reduce stroke risk. Surely, these novel strategies to reduce residual lipidic risk will provide future benefits on stroke prevention.
KeywordsCholesterol Ezetimibe PCSK9 inhibitors SPARCL trial Statins Stroke prevention
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
References and Recommended Reading
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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