Background: Several studies have shown that high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol provides protection against bacterial infections. Our aim was to investigate the influence of HDL cholesterol levels on the risk of developing in-hospital infectious complications after an acute ischemic stroke (IS) as well as the possible effect of prestroke statin treatment on this association. Methods and Results: Observational study that included consecutive IS patients during a 5-year period (2006-2010). We analyzed vascular risk factors, prestroke treatments (including statins), laboratory data (including HDL cholesterol levels), stroke severity, and the development of infectious complications (pneumonia, urinary tract infection and sepsis). A multivariate analysis that included HDL cholesterol levels, prior statin treatment and the interaction between both variables was performed to identify those factors associated with the presence of infectious complications. A total of 1,385 patients were included, 130 of whom (9.4%) developed in-hospital infections. The receiver operating characteristic curve showed the predictive value of HDL cholesterol with an area under the curve of 0.597 (95% CI, 0.526-0.668; p = 0.006) and pointed to 38.5 mg/dl of HDL cholesterol (65.5% sensitivity and 53.4% specificity) as the optimal cutoff level for developing infectious complications during hospitalization. An HDL cholesterol level ≥38.5 mg/dl was an independent predictive factor for lower risk of infection (OR 0.308; 95% CI 0.119-0.795), whereas prestroke statin treatment was not associated with the development of infection. Conclusions: An HDL cholesterol level ≥38.5 mg/dl was independently associated with lower risk for developing infectious complications in acute IS patients. Statins do not influence this association.

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