EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE UNTIL 4 PM ET, February 26, 2001
Cholesterol-Fighting Drug Also Helps Fight Heart Disease
St. Paul, Minn. – Pravastatin, a drug commonly used to lower cholesterol levels, also was found in a recent study to prevent recurring TIAs (transient ischaemic attacks, or temporary neurological disorders including numbness, paralysis and speech difficulties) in two patients with coronary artery disease, according to a study in the February 27, 2001 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. “This is very exciting and may warrant further study,” according to article author Mark J. Alberts, MD, associate professor of neurology, and director of the Stroke Acute Care Unit at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. In one of the cases reported, a 77-year-old woman with coronary artery disease, hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease had checked into a hospital for elective parathyroid surgery. Over the course of several days she complained of numbness on her right side as well as a tingling sensation in her right hand, numbness, hallucinations and difficulty speaking. These symptoms came and went, lasting less than 20 minutes per episode. After being prescribed a statin drug, her TIA symptoms disappeared. Another patient, a 64-year-old man, began having TIAs involving weakness in his right arm and garbled speech. Following treatment with a statin drug, his TIAs disappeared for the next eight months. Alberts said it isn’t currently understood why statins have a positive effect on lowering the risk of stroke or preventing recurrence of TIAs. “We think further studies on the effectiveness and safety of statins in treating TIA is warranted.” Alberts said several previous studies have shown statins to be effective in reducing stroke and TIAs in patients with coronary heart disease. The current study adds to the body of evidence that statins may prevent TIAs in patients who did not respond to standard medical therapy.
The American Academy of Neurology is the world's largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with 32,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer's disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.