Taking statins for atrial fibrillation may lower stroke risk

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Atrial fibrillation affects over 40 million people worldwide and increases the risk of stroke. While anticoagulant medication is commonly used to prevent further strokes, it does not eliminate the risk entirely. Now, a new study involving over 50,000 patients with atrial fibrillation has found that the use of statins is associated with a reduced risk of stroke and temporary loss of blood flow to the brain.

The results of this study were presented at the EHRA Congress 2023 conference held in Barcelona, Spain, organized by the European Society of Cardiology. Patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib), a heart rhythm disorder, are five times more likely to experience a stroke compared to those without the condition.

Although anticoagulant drugs are commonly recommended to prevent stroke in patients with AFib, they do not completely remove the risk. Statins, a commonly used medication used to reduce blood cholesterol and the likelihood of heart attack and stroke, are frequently prescribed for patients with AFib.

However, their effectiveness in preventing strokes in individuals with this condition has remained unclear. In the new study, the researchers aimed to assess the correlation between the use of statins and the occurrence of stroke and transient ischemic attack in patients diagnosed with AFib.

The study methods To identify all individuals who were newly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation between 2010 and 2018, the researchers accessed data from the Hong Kong Clinical Data Analysis and Reporting System.

The participants were divided into two categories: statin users and non-users.

Statin users were defined as individuals who had been taking the medication for at least 90 consecutive days within one year of their AFib diagnosis.

The primary outcomes of the study that the researchers looked to identify were stroke, blood clots that can travel through the body, and temporary loss of blood flow to the brain.

The researchers followed up with the patients until they experienced any of these events, passed away, or until the study ended on October 31, 2022.

The research looked at data from over 51,000 people who had recently received an AFib diagnosis.