Use of Statins Linked to Lower Death Rate in Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
On June 24, a research report released in Cell Metabolism found that use of cholesterol-lowering drugs was associated with a decreased risk of mortality and a lower translation to mechanical ventilation in hospitalized patients.
Importantly, the study also validated that the combination of statin drugs with blood pressure lowering drugs, did not result in increased mortality.
The results of this large-scale, retrospective study, not only validate the safety of statins, but have also opened up the possibility of investigation as to whether or not they confer a protective effect against Covid-19 given the huge gap in mortality rates.
The study describes several potential pathways in which statins may confer beneficial effects namely, "the potent anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects of statins suggest they could be beneficial to counter coronoviral infections, including for SARS-CoV-2" and also that "statins might inhibit SARS-CoV-2 entry into host cells by directly binding the main protease of the coronavirus."
The study validated that three chief inflammation biomarkers, circulating CRP, interleukin 6 (IL-6) and neutrophil counts had more favorable trajectories in the statin group then the non-statin group.
The study consisted of 13,981 COVID-19 patients admitted to 21 hospitals in Hubei Province, China. Among these patients, 1,219 used statins, primarily atorvastatin at an average dose of 20 mg/day.
Patients on statins are statistically older and had a higher incidence of lung lesions and chronic diseases, hence the researchers also performed analyses on subsets of patients that had matching baseline characteristics such as age, disease severity, and pre-existing conditions.
When comparing statin users to all patients, the decrease in death rates was 1.9%.
When comparing statin users to patients of the same baseline characteristics the decrease in death rates was 4.2%, making the overall mortality rate for statin users 5.2% with comparable non-statin users being 9.4%.