New research from the American Heart Association asserts that statins can help patients postpone or even avoid heart valve replacement surgery. In time, aortic valve shunts begin to ?rust? shut and need to be replaced through a painful, albeit highly successful, surgery. More than 20,000 aortic valves are replaced each year. Statins, traditionally used for lowering cholesterol, are thought to fight inflammation of heart valves, which can lead to the stiffening of heart tissues. They also increase the amount of calcium that bones absorb, leaving less calcium in the bloodstream to possibly corrode an aortic valve shunt.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic followed 156 people with aortic stenosis, 38 of whom were taking statins. At first, researchers were unable to find that statins had any effect on the worsening of aortic stenosis. After 4 years, however, the statin users were half as likely to see a worsening of aortic stenosis.