Although a concern exists that 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) might increase the risk of intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH), the contribution of these agents to the relationship between serum cholesterol and disease occurrence has been poorly investigated.
We compared consecutive patients having ICH with age and sex-matched stroke-free control subjects in a case-control analysis, as part of the Multicenter Study on Cerebral Haemorrhage in Italy (MUCH-Italy), and tested the presence of interaction effects between total serum cholesterol levels and statins on the risk of ICH.
A total of 3492 cases (mean age, 73.0±12.7 years; males, 56.6%) and 3492 control subjects were enrolled. Increasing total serum cholesterol levels were confirmed to be inversely associated with ICH. We observed a statistical interaction between total serum cholesterol levels and statin use for the risk of haemorrhage (Interaction OR (IOR), 1.09; 95% CI 1.05 to 1.12). Increasing levels of total serum cholesterol were associated with a decreased risk of ICH within statin strata (average OR, 0.87; 95% CI 0.86 to 0.88 for every increase of 0.26 mmol/l of total serum cholesterol concentrations), while statin use was associated with an increased risk (OR, 1.54; 95% CI 1.31 to 1.81 of the average level of total serum cholesterol). The protective effect of serum cholesterol against ICH was reduced by statins in strictly lobar brain regions more than in non-lobar ones.
Statin therapy and total serum cholesterol levels exhibit interaction effects towards the risk of ICH. The magnitude of such effects appears higher in lobar brain regions.