Background: Stroke is a major cause of mortality and disability in modern societies.
Statins are effective medications in decreasing cardiovascular events through lipid lowering and
Objective: To summarize current evidence regarding the role of statins in the prevention and management
Methods: A narrative review of current evidence regarding the effect of statins in stroke management.
Electronic searches of MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Databases were performed.
Results: In primary prevention of stroke in patients with risk factors but no established cardiovascular
disease, potent statins such as atorvastatin and rosuvastatin have shown some benefits, but the
clinical relevance of this effect is questionable. In populations at higher risk of stroke, such as patients
with established coronary heart disease, the majority of relevant studies have shown a beneficial
effect of statins in preventing stroke. Similarly, in patients with a previous cerebrovascular
event, there is a clear benefit of statins for the prevention of recurrent events. The use of statins is
not associated with an increased risk of intracranial bleeding in primary prevention studies. There
may be an increased incidence of non-fatal hemorrhagic stroke with high dose statins in patients
with a previous cerebrovascular event. Patients who experience a stroke while on statins should not
discontinue statins. In addition, statins are associated with better survival and improved functional
outcome when administered during the acute phase of stroke in statin-naive patients. In contrast,
statins do not confer any benefit in patients with acute ischemic stroke who receive thrombolysis.
Conclusion: Treatment with statins prevents ischemic stroke, especially in patients with high cardiovascular
risk and established atherosclerotic disease. It seems that both lipid lowering and pleiotropic
effects contribute to these effects.