A new drug application could give hope to thousands of stroke sufferers.
A five-year Stroke Prevention by Aggressive Reduction in Cholesterol Levels (SPARCL) investigation by leading researchers has found that a cholesterol-lowering drug could help prevent repeat occurrences of stroke.
Atorvastatin was found to reduce the risk of recurrence by 16 per cent in stroke victims with no history of coronary heart disease if the treatment was administered soon after the initial episode.
The findings, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, also indicate that the drug could be used with good effect on people who have suffered a transient ischemic attack, which is a shorter, less severe version of a stroke, but can often lead to a major attack in later years.
"These results will have a major effect on how people are treated following a stroke," said Larry B Goldstein from the SPARCL committee.
"The findings are very important for physicians and patients because they show that the addition of this drug to other treatments further reduces the risk of another stroke, which is a pretty big step in improving what we can do for stroke patients."
Some 130,000 people have a stroke in the UK each year, according to the Stroke Association.