Stroke Risk Lower in Elderly on Lipid-Lowering Drugs

(HealthDay News) — Older patients taking statins or fibrates saw their risk for stroke over almost a decade decline by about one-third, according to a report published in The BMJ.

Christophe Tzourio, MD, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Bordeaux and Inserm in France, collected data on 7,484 French men and women, average age 74 years, with no history of vascular events when the study began.

During an average follow-up of 9 years, the investigators found that those who took statins or fibrates had a one-third lower risk for stroke compared with those who didn’t take them (HR=0.66; 95% CI, 0.49-0.90). No association, however, was found between statins and a lower risk for coronary heart disease in this group (HR=1.12; 95% CI, 0.90-1.40), the researchers said. 

The reduction in the risk for stroke attributed to statins did not change when the researchers took into account other factors such as age, sex, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

“If confirmed, these results suggest that keeping patients on cholesterol-lowering drugs could lower their stroke risk,” Tzourio told HealthDay. “But these findings should not be interpreted as an indication for starting these drugs in older adults.”

“The study of Alpérovitch and colleagues will not change guidelines because of its observational design and inherent potential for systematic error. However, the results are sufficiently compelling to justify further research testing the hypothesis that lipid lowering may be effective in the primary prevention of stroke in older people,” the author of a related editorial wrote.

“Meanwhile, for clinicians and patients, the decision to start statins for primary prevention of vascular disease in people over 75 continues to be based on sound clinical judgment after consideration of each person’s predicted vascular risk without and with statins, the predicted risk of adverse effects of statins (against a backdrop of increasing comorbidities, polypharmacy, and other safety considerations), and the patient’s own priorities and preferences for treatment.”


  1. Alpérovitch A et al. BMJ. 2015;350:h2335.
  2. Hankey GJ. BMJ. 2015;350:h2568.