The results of a recent study showed that statins can reduce the risk of severe infection in patients suffering from heart disease and stroke. Researchers said that the drugs cut hospital admissions for sepsis by almost 20% in patients who had been treated previously for cardiovascular disease. The findings were reported in the January 25, 2006, on-line edition of the medical journal The Lancet.
The study involved 69,168 elderly patients who were admitted to the hospital for acute coronary syndrome, stroke, or a revascularization procedure. Upon dismissal from the hospital, more than 34,000 patients were prescribed a statin within 90 days, while an equal number were not. After 2 years, 551 patients who had been taking the statins were admitted back to the hospital for sepsis, compared with 667 who had not taken these drugs.
According to the researchers, "the use of statins in patients older than 65 years old with atherosclerosis . . . was associated with a 19% reduced risk of sepsis." They also called for more clinical trials to test the effectiveness of statins against sepsis. If the finding is replicated in other trials, the researchers believe that the use of statins may be important in reducing the risk of sepsis in any patient undergoing complex surgery. In addition, patients undergoing highrisk surgery should consider taking statins to prevent sepsis.