June 17, 2009

Statins may not lower pneumonia risk

A Seattle researcher refutes the claim that statin drugs may lower the risk of pneumonia.

Dr. Sascha Dublin of the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle found that pneumonia risk was, if anything, slightly higher -- 26 percent -- in people using a statin than in those not using the cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as Lipitor.

As a doctor, I'm a fan of statins for what they've been proven to do -- lowering cholesterol and risk of heart disease and stroke in people who've had either disease or are at risk for them, Dublin said in a statement.

Dublin says the discrepancy between this study involving more than of more than 3,000 Group Health patients and earlier ones may be due to healthy-user bias.

In other words, compared to people who don't take statins, those who do may be healthier and have healthier habits that lower their risks of unrelated diseases such as pneumonia, Dublin said.

The patients in this study who were on statins were less frail and less likely to smoke or have dementia. They were also more likely to be vaccinated against flu or pneumococcal pneumonia, Dublin adds.

The findings were published in the British Medical Journal.