Hold the presses. The media has been full of it.
The New England Journal of Medicine has published a study examining the effect of Lipitor on strokes and transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs).
The study recruited approximately 4,700 patients who had experienced a stroke between 1 and 6 months prior to randomisation to receive either atorvastatin 80mg or placebo. Follow up was for 5 years and data were collected on fatal and non-fatal stroke, TIAs, cardiovascular events and deaths.
Statistically, there were fewer strokes in the Lipitor arm of the study with a reported absolute risk reduction of 2.2%.
So, treat 45 such people for five years and one stroke is prevented.
But there was no difference in overall mortality between the groups.
There was also an increased risk of haemorrhagic stroke in the Lipitor arm.
Journal Watch has appraised the study and noted that the study just achieved statistical significance.
Since this is the first study to directly examine the effects of statins on strokes they concluded that it is unclear “whether an 80-mg dose of atorvastatin is necessary to achieve secondary prevention of stroke”.
Hat tip: Prescribing Advice for GPs