Chronic Statin Therapy Associated With Reduced Postoperative Mortality

F Chicago — (December 22, 2010) 

Statin drugs were first introduced to lower blood cholesterol concentrations; however, research is now discovering other benefits. A new study from France, published in the January 2011 issue of Anesthesiology, is the first to analyze the impact of preoperative chronic statin therapy on postoperative adverse events in surgical patients. Findings from the study suggest that statin therapy is associated with reduced postoperative mortality.

"Preoperative uses of statins have demonstrated major cardiac and non-cardiac protective effects, including in this study. Since we are now able to also understand the postoperative effects of statin therapy, it should be considered as a global protection for patients," said study author, Bruno Riou, M.D., Ph.D.

The observational study analyzed 1,674 patients undergoing aortic reconstruction surgeries from January 2001 to December 2009. Researchers from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) and the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris in Paris, France, compared the outcomes between patients who received chronic statin therapy with those who did not. Results showed statins were associated with the following:

  • An almost threefold reduction in the risk of death in patients undergoing major vascular surgery.
  • An almost twofold reduction in the risk of postoperative heart attack.
  • A reduced risk of postoperative stroke and kidney failure.

While statins did not reduce the risk of pneumonia, multiple organ dysfunction syndrome, and surgical complications, they did reduce mortality in patients with postoperative multiple organ dysfunction syndrome and in those developing postoperative surgical complications.

Lead study author Yannick Le Manach, M.D. added that his research team believes the way statins are currently administered to patients remains a limitation. He supports the development of intravenous formulations of statins in order to administer the drugs during and immediately after surgery. This could improve postoperative outcomes by maintaining optimal blood concentrations and avoiding low plasma levels.

For more information, visit the Anesthesiology website at www.anesthesiology.org.

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