Statin users may have extra protection against severe COVID-19

By Alan Mozes Health Day Journalist

TUESDAY July 20, 2021 (HealthDay News)

Could cholesterol-lowering statins help lower your risk of dying from COVID-19?

For patients with a history of high blood pressure or heart disease, the answer seems to be yes. At least, that’s the conclusion of a new study that enrolled around 10,500 patients in 104 US hospitals between January and September 2020.

All had been admitted with a severe COVID-19 attack. Before their hospitalization, 42% were taking statins to control their high cholesterol levels, 7% taking statins alone, and 35% taking both statins and blood pressure medications.

Ultimately, about a fifth of patients either died of COVID-19 or were referred to a hospice.

“[But] we found that patients taking statin medications before being hospitalized due to COVID-19 had a 41% lower risk of death during that hospitalization, even after adjusting for other factors like age, sex, other medical conditions, and the type of medical insurance they have. eu, ”said study author Dr Lori Daniels.

After analyzing data collected by the American Heart Association, the team also concluded that statin use was also linked to a 25% lower risk of developing a “serious outcome” from an infection with the heart. COVID-19.

Why? Statins could have this effect by “stabilizing the underlying heart conditions for which they are prescribed, making patients more likely to recover from COVID-19,” said Daniels, director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at the ‘University of California at San Diego.

But not all patients on statins have advanced heart disease, Daniels’ team noted. Many relatively healthy patients also take them proactively to avoid cardiovascular problems.

Which begs the question, could statins also reduce mortality in COVID patients who do not yet have serious underlying heart problems? Daniels suggested the jury was still out on this issue.

She noted that statins contain a potent, potentially useful anti-inflammatory effect. His team found that statins reduced the risk of death by 16% in patients with no history of heart disease.

Still, Daniels warned that for patients with good heart health, the trial results were “not statistically significant.” And “this study cannot tell us whether giving statins to patients, if they are not already taking them, would be helpful,” she said.

“However, in settings other than COVID-19, such as patients with major heart attacks, studies have shown that administering statins early in hospitalization to patients who are not already on them improves results, ”Daniels said, reducing the risk of future heart attacks and death.

“So there is precedent for statins to make a difference quickly in hospital patients,” she noted.

Despite this, Dr Gregg Fonarow – director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center – had a mixed reaction to the results.

He acknowledged that there has long been interest in whether heart medications – including high blood pressure medications and statins – could give COVID-19 patients a head start when it comes to ‘acts to reduce the severity of illness and death.

“And a number of observational studies have suggested that there are associations between past or continued use of these drugs and the severity and clinical outcomes of COVID-19,” noted Fonarow, who was not part of study.

But he stressed that it is very difficult to determine a potential benefit, given the wide range of factors that can influence the outcome in COVID patients. And he pointed out that other trials involving heart patients struggling with COVID “have do not found an advantage or harms “associated with either class of drugs.


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Still, Fonarow noted that further testing is already underway. And “current guidelines recommend continuation of these therapies,” he said.

Daniels and his colleagues published their findings on July 15 in the journal PLOS ONE.

More information

The American Heart Association has more on COVID and heart patients.

SOURCES: Lori Daniels, MD, director, Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit, University of California, San Diego; Gregg Fonarow, MD, director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, Los Angeles; PLOS ONE, July 15, 2021

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