Harvard Heart Letter

Study suggests caution on statins after a bleeding stroke

These drugs may harm more than help after a stroke linked to a degenerative brain condition.

The drugs known as statins do many good things. They are the most powerful cholesterol-lowering agents discovered so far. They help prevent heart attacks in people who have had one, as well as in those at high risk for one. They lessen the risk of having an ischemic (clot-caused) stroke, the most common kind of stroke in the United States. Use of statins has been linked to stronger bones, better brain health in old age, and other noncardiovascular benefits.

But statins aren't miracle drugs. Some people who take one have a heart attack or stroke anyway. Like any drug, they can cause unwanted side effects. And a report in Archives of Neurology adds a note of caution about statin use in one group of people — those who have had a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke in an outer lobe of the brain.

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