Cholesterol-lowering management of stroke : inconsistencies of evidence and practice
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Cholesterol-lowering treatment by statins is an important and costly issue; however, its role in stroke has not been well documented. The aim of the present study was to review literature and current practice regarding cholesterol-lowering treatment for stroke patients. A literature review was conducted on lipids in stroke and their management with both statins and diet, including the cost-effectiveness of medical nutrition therapy. Qualifying criteria and prescription procedures of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) were also reviewed. Data on lipid levels and statin prescriptions were analysed for 468 patients admitted to a stroke unit. The literature shows that management with both medication and diet can be effective, especially when combined; however, 60% of patients with an ischaemic event had fasting total cholesterol measures ≥4 mmol/L (n = 231), with only 52% prescribed statins on discharge (n = 120). Hypercholesterolaemia is an underdiagnosed and undertreated risk factor within the stroke population. It appears that the PBS has not kept pace with advances in the evidence in terms of statin use in the stroke population, and review is needed. The present review should address the qualifying criteria for the stroke population and recommendations on referral to dietitians for dietary advice. Cholesterol-lowering treatment for both stroke patients and the wider population is an area that needs awareness raising and review by the PBS, medical practitioners and dietitians. The role of dietary and pharmacological treatments needs to be clearly defined, including adjunct therapy, and the cost-effectiveness of medical nutrition therapy realised.
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