Discrepancies in Treatment Among Heart Attack and Stroke Survivors

A respected presence in the Roosevelt Island community, Lynne Strong-Shinozaki is known for her commitment to advocacy and volunteer work at local and state levels. Lynne Strong-Shinozaki has received many accolades, including the Lifesaver Award from the American Heart Association.

A recent Duke Clinical Research Institute study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association brought attention to a situation in which those with a history of stroke are not as likely as people with heart disease to receive statin drugs, which help lower cholesterol.

Among 3,200 patient records examined, patients with cerebrovascular disease had a 36 percent lower likelihood of receiving a recommended dose of statins than those with heart disease. This underuse of the drug came despite the proven track record of statin therapy in reducing cholesterol levels and overall cardiovascular disease risks.

One possible reason for the discrepancy had to do with physicians fearing that the medications could trigger a bleeding stroke, even though overwhelming evidence shows such risk to be offset by the benefits of preventing a range of other cardiovascular diseases. A related reason is that stroke patients might have prior histories of bleeding inside the skull. In addition, heart attack survivors have been shown to receive higher levels of followup treatment than stroke survivors.

Whatever the reasons for a lack of statin therapy, the study provides room for further investigation when it comes to ensuring proper risk factor management for stroke victims.