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Use of Statins to Lower Cholesterol Increases Survival by 50% in Severe COVID-19 Patients, Finds New Study

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 Mar 2021
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Image: Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell infected with SARS-COV-2 (Photo courtesy of NIAID)
Image: Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell infected with SARS-COV-2 (Photo courtesy of NIAID)
People who took statins to lower cholesterol were approximately 50% less likely to die if hospitalized for COVID-19, according to a new study.

In the study, physicians at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (New York, NY, USA) looked at outcomes for 2,626 patients with COVID-19 who were admitted to a quaternary academic medical center in Manhattan during the first 18 weeks of the pandemic. The researchers compared 648 patients who regularly used statins before developing COVID-19 to 648 patients who did not use statins. Patients in each group were matched so that there were no significant differences in demographics, comorbidities, or use of other medications at home.

Among the statin users, 96 (14.8%) died in the hospital within 30 days of admission compared with 172 (26.5%) of patients who did not use statins. When other differences among the patients were factored in, the researchers found that statin use was significantly associated with a 50% reduction in in-hospital mortality (within 30 days). Patients on statins also tended to have lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation. Statin use was not associated with a statistically significant decrease in the use of invasive mechanical ventilation (18.6% in statin users vs. 21.9%), days on a ventilator (13.5 vs. 12.8), or length of hospital stay (7 vs. 7).

Other studies and meta-analyses from China have also suggested a survival benefit from statins among COVID-19 patients. However, these results may not apply to patients in Western countries who generally have more cardiovascular disease. The current study is one of the larger studies confirming the association. Smaller retrospective studies out of North America and Europe have found similar results. Although the current study compared closely matched participants and adjusted for other variables, as a retrospective analysis, unknown factors could explain the results. Several randomized trials are underway, including studies to determine if statins can prevent hospitalization in outpatients, and lower the risk of death when given to hospitalized patients.

“Our study is one of the larger studies confirming this hypothesis and the data lay the groundwork for future randomized clinical trials that are needed to confirm the benefit of statins in COVID-19,” said Aakriti Gupta, MD, a cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and one of the co-lead authors of the study.

“If their beneficial effect bears out in randomized clinical trials, statins could potentially prove to be a low-cost and effective therapeutic strategy for COVID-19,” added co-lead author Mahesh V. Madhavan, MD, also a cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Related Links:
Columbia University Irving Medical Center


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