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Keywords:

  • complications;
  • ischemic stroke;
  • pneumonia;
  • respiratory infection;
  • statins;
  • thrombolysis

Background

Pneumonia is a frequent complication after stroke with strong impact on clinical outcome. Statins have pleiotropic immunmodulatory properties and were recently shown to exert beneficial effects on the development and clinical course of pneumonia.

Aims

We aimed to investigate whether statin use is associated with a reduced risk of poststroke pneumonia in acute ischemic stroke patients treated with tissue plasminogen activator within 4·5hours.

Methods

Data was extracted from a local register including all consecutive stroke patients who received thrombolysis at our institution. Prior statin use was identified retrospectively from clinical records and had to be continued after hospital admission. Poststroke pneumonia was diagnosed according to standardized criteria of US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mortality and functional outcome at three-months were further assessed.

Results

Overall, 481 ischemic stroke patients were analyzed. Continued statin use was documented in 17% of the patients. Frequency of pneumonia was 11%. Patients with statin use were less likely to develop poststroke pneumonia (5% vs. 13%, P = 0·04). After multivariable adjustment for known risk factors for poststroke pneumonia (age, stroke severity, dysphagia, male sex and diabetes), statin treatment was negatively associated with pneumonia (OR 0·31; 95% CI 0·10–0·94). Occurrence of pneumonia independently predicted three-month mortality and functional outcome.

Conclusions

Use of statins in acute ischemic stroke patients who receive thrombolysis might reduce the risk of poststroke pneumonia. Further studies are warranted to validate this finding.