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Early Statin Use is Associated with Increased Risk of Infection After Stroke

      Background

      Infection after stroke is common and likely detrimental. Given the potent immunomodulatory properties of statins, we hypothesized that early statin use might increase the risk of infection in the immediate post stroke period.

      Methods

      In a study cohort of 112 patients with ischemic stroke, we assessed the impact of early statin use on the risk of post stroke infection.

      Results

      After controlling for stroke severity and patient age, the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) for infection in the first 15 days after stroke among patients on a statin by day 3 after stroke was 7.21 (95% CI 1.40-37.98; P = .018). When controlling for univariate predictors of infection, the OR associated for infection associated with statin use actually increased, but was no longer significant (8.49 [95% CI 0.92-77.98]; P = .059). In addition, early statin use was associated with an increase in plasma interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra); IL-1ra was significantly higher in early statin users than in nonstatin users by day 7 after stroke.

      Conclusions

      Our data suggest that early statin use appears to be associated with and increased risk of post stroke infection. This risk may, in part, be related to increases in plasma IL-1ra. If these findings are replicated in larger studies, they could have important implications for the timing of statin therapy after stroke.

      Key Words

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