I just read that statins reduce the effectiveness of the flu shot. Should I stop my Lipitor during flu season?
Statins are one of the mainstays of cholesterol treatment and they have a 30 year track record of safety and effectiveness. They are an important therapy for heart attack and stroke prevention, but they also have a multiplicity of other effects on the body.
Among the proposed benefits of statin medications is their ability to reduce inflammation more generally. It is thought that this effect has both negatives and positives. The negatives were brought out in the recent articles about a mild reduced immune response to the flu shot noted in statin users. Two studies suggested this effect (READ MORE >>>HERE<<<), but the true clinical impact remains speculative.
There are benefits to statins that also derive from this anti-inflammatory properies, including some evidence that statins reduce the risk of death from sepsis (overwhelming infection) and reduce the severity of pneumonia. Both of these benefits are thought to be produced by the anti-inflammatory properties of statins dampening an over-exuberant immune response that can cause more damage than benefit in sepsis and pneumonia.
So, there are theoretical pros and cons of statin therapy and at this time there is no evidence to recommend changing your current dosing of your Lipitor. Stay on it and do not worry during flu season that you will be susceptible to infection and illness. The jury is ‘out’ on this topic.