Cholesterol-lowering statins can decrease the risk of strokes by about a fifth, a new study has claimed.
The research reviewed some 24 studies, and found lower cholesterol levels were associated with a reduced risk of stroke. The risk fell 21 per cent for every reduction in a defined level of "bad" LDL cholesterol.
What's more, the study found significant reductions in recurrent strokes and confirmed an effect on those caused by blood clots.
Statins reduce the amount of cholesterol produced and force the body to take up cholesterol from the blood stream, thereby reducing overall levels, reports The Telegraph.
Their side effects can include muscle aches, fatigue, liver problems, sleep disturbance, headaches, sexual dysfunction, amnesia and in rare cases lung disease.
The research, which was published in the Lancet Neurology, examined results involving more than 165,000 patients.
The review's lead author Dr Pierre Amarenco, from Paris-Diderot University in France, said: "Lipid (blood fat) lowering with statins is effective in reducing both initial and recurrent stroke.
"Because this effect seems to be associated with the extent of LDL cholesterol reduction, the next step is to assess the effectiveness and safety of further reductions in LDL cholesterol after a stroke."
Two of the studies included in the review looked at haemorrhagic stroke, which is caused by a bleeding blood vessel in the brain as opposed to a clot cutting off blood supply, as it had been thought statin treatment could increase this form of stroke.
However, the studies found no increase in the risk of haemorrhagic stroke except in those patients who had already suffered a brain bleed and the authors recommended caution when prescribing statins in this group.