December 15, 2011
Study Shows Statins May Reduce Influenza Deaths
A new study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases has found that statins, which are used to lower cholesterol, may aid in the treatment of influenza along with anti-viral medications and annual immunization.
The study, which was observational, evaluated the association between patients who took statin drugs and influenza related deaths. Thirty-three percent of the 3,043 hospitalized patients were given statins prior to or during their hospitalizations. Those patients not receiving statins were almost twice as likely to die from influenza than the patients receiving the drugs.
According to the authors of the study, “Our study found that statins were associated with a decrease in odds of dying among cases hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, when adjusted for age, race, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, renal disease, influenza vaccine receipt, and initiation of antivirals within 48 hours of admission.”
The study authors agree that an observational study is not the most comprehensive study. There were confounding factors that were not found through the review of patients´ charts. And the amount of statin was not tracked through the patients´ hospital stay.
The researchers suggest a randomized trial would be beneficial in the study of the statin-influenza link, and “would allow for examination of such issues as dose response, use in younger age groups, and identifying the most effective class of statins.”
This use of statins have raised the attention of virologists because of their anti-inflammatory qualities that might reduce the damage from the influenza virus.
Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an attending physician in infectious diseases at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY told USA Today, “There have been a couple of studies that have found an apparent association between statins and improved mortality in patients who´ve have sepsis [blood infections], who´ve had community-acquired pneumonia.”
The study was sponsored by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention´s Emerging Infections Program.
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