A study of over 38,000 participants discovered that standard cholesterol-lowering statins may reduce the risk of death and the severity of COVID-19 disease.
“While there is no ‘magic bullet’ to help patients who are very ill with COVID-19, statins decrease inflammation, which may help reduce the severity of the disease,” said Ettore Crimi, M.D., MBA, lead author of the study and professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine, University of Central Florida, Orlando.
“Results of our study clearly showed regular statin use is associated with reduced risk of death and improved outcomes in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.” The retrospective study is one of the most extensive of regular statin use in patients with COVID-19. Researchers analyzed the electronic medical records of 38,875 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at 185 hospitals in the United States between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2020. Of those patients, 30% regularly used statins to treat high cholesterol.
Statin users had a 37% lower risk of dying from COVID-19 than those who didn’t use statins. In addition, regular statin users were significantly less likely to be discharged to hospice, be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) or develop blood clots. They also had shorter hospital stays and spent less time on a ventilator.
While COVID-19 promotes inflammation, in some circumstances the immune system induces further inflammation by overreacting to the infection. This strong reaction causes much of the body’s harm, including breathing difficulties and damage to the lungs, kidneys, heart, brain, and vascular system. Statins’ anti-inflammatory properties “cool the process,” allowing the disease to progress more slowly, according to Dr. Crimi.
According to the American Heart Association, one in every four Americans over the age of 40 takes statins to lower their cholesterol and reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular disorders, making them one of the most regularly prescribed drugs.
“This research illustrates the importance of evaluating medications that could be repurposed to help patients in ways other than their intended use,” said Dr. Crimi. “Our results suggest statins could be an additional cost-effective solution against COVID-19 disease severity and should be studied further.”
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS
Founded in 1905, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is an educational, research and scientific society with more than 55,000 members organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology. ASA is committed to ensuring physician anesthesiologists evaluate and supervise the medical care of patients before, during and after surgery to provide the highest quality and safest care every patient deserves.