Statin use was not associated with less vasospasm or improved outcome after subarachnoid hemorrhage

Andreas H Kramer, Matthew J Gurka, Bart Nathan, Aaron S Dumont, Neal F Kassell, Thomas P Bleck
Neurosurgery 2008, 62 (2): 422-7; discussion 427-30

OBJECTIVE: The development of delayed ischemia caused by cerebral vasospasm remains a common cause of morbidity and mortality after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Preliminary studies suggest that 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) may decrease the risk of vasospasm, but additional study is required.

METHODS: Beginning in May 2006, our treatment protocol for patients presenting with subarachnoid hemorrhage was altered to routinely include the use of 80 mg of simvastatin per day for 14 days. Before this time, only patients with other indications for statins were treated. The charts of 203 consecutive patients over a period of 27 months were retrospectively reviewed, and 150 patients were included in the analysis, of whom 71 patients received statins. These patients were compared with 79 untreated patients to determine whether or not the use of statins was associated with a reduction in the occurrence of vasospasm, delayed infarction, or poor outcome (death, vegetative state, or severe disability).

RESULTS: Patients who were treated with statins and those who were not had similar baseline characteristics, although more patients in the former group were managed with endovascular coil embolization. There were no statistically significant differences in the proportion of patients developing at least moderate radiographic vasospasm (41% with statins versus 42% without, P = 0.91), symptomatic vasospasm (32% with statins versus 25% without, P = 0.34), delayed infarction (23% with statins versus 28% without, P = 0.46), or poor outcome (39% with statins versus 35% without, P = 0.61). After adjustment for differences in baseline characteristics, including the method of aneurysm treatment, statins were still not significantly protective.

CONCLUSION: The addition of statins to standard care was not associated with any reduction in the development of vasospasm or improvement in outcomes after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. If there is a benefit to statin use, it may be smaller than suggested by previous studies. However, further randomized controlled trials are awaited.

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