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Statin use may reduce risk of brain-bleed strokes up to 38 percent

A study found that longer use of statins, such as the one above, was linked to a lower risk of experiencing an intracerebral hemorrhage, the deadliest type of stroke. (Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
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People taking cholesterol-lowering statins also may be reducing, by up to 38 percent, their chances of having a life-threatening brain-bleeding stroke, according to research published in the journal Neurology.

Bleeding from an intracerebral hemorrhage, considered the most deadly type of stroke, reduces oxygen delivery to the brain and increases pressure, which damages and can kill brain cells.

The study found that longer use of statins was linked to a lower risk for experiencing an intracerebral hemorrhage, ranging from a 16 percent lower risk for shorter-term use to a 38 percent lower risk for those who had taken statins for five years or more. The researchers also found that the location of the bleeding in the brain did not affect the risk reductions.

Previous research had found that statins can lower a person’s risk for a stroke caused by a blood clot. The new findings came from analysis of medical data on people 55 and older — including 2,164 who had, for the first time, experienced an intracerebral hemorrhage and, for comparison, roughly 40,000 people who had never had this type of stroke.

Intracerebral hemorrhage may occur when a blood vessel in the brain becomes damaged and bursts. High blood pressure is a common and generally undetectable cause of intracerebral hemorrhage, but other potential causes include infection, head trauma and tumors. This type of stroke usually happens suddenly and requires emergency treatment, which can range from close monitoring and medication to possible surgery to relieve pressure. It can leave survivors with physical and mental disabilities.

This article is part of The Post’s “Big Number” series, which takes a brief look at the statistical aspect of health issues. Additional information and relevant research are available through the hyperlinks.