In a recent study, researchers show that combining drugs that lowers blood pressure with medication that lowers cholesterol could reduce first-time strokes by 44%.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America. About 75% of strokes are first-time strokes.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol both increase the risk of stroke.
However, it’s not known whether combining drugs that lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels can protect people from a stroke.
In the study, researchers examined the data of 12,705 participants from 21 countries.
The average age of the participants was 66 years; 46% were women, and 166 strokes occurred during an average follow-up of 5.6 years.
At the start of the study, the average blood pressure was 138/82 mm Hg. A normal blood pressure reading is around 120/80 mm Hg.
The team found that individually, drugs that lower blood pressure or cholesterol do indeed reduce stroke risk, but when combined, they offer even greater protection.
Taking daily doses of two blood pressure drugs (fixed dose candesartan and hydrochlorothiazide) along with a cholesterol-lowering drug (low-dose rosuvastatin) was the most effective.
The combination could cut first-time strokes by 44% among patients at intermediate risk for heart disease.
For people with very high blood pressure, taking 16 milligrams of candesartan plus 12.5 milligrams of hydrochlorothiazide every day reduced stroke by 42%.
In addition, compared with a placebo, stroke was reduced by 30% among participants taking daily doses of 10 milligrams of rosuvastatin.
The researchers suggest that cholesterol-lowering treatment is important for all people to prevent stroke, and that blood pressure lowering plus cholesterol-lowering should be considered in those with elevated blood pressure.
A single pill that produces the same effects as taking multiple pills that lower both blood pressure and cholesterol could make it easier to use for patients.
The findings come from the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation Study, a large, international study focused on heart disease and stroke prevention.
The lead study author is Jackie Bosch, Ph.D., McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
The study was presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2018.
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