Statin medications such as Lipitor, Crestor, and Zocor are used to prevent heart attacks and strokes, but there has been evidence that they can prevent injury and death from serious infection. The data has been mixed on this topic, and a recent report supports the use of these medications, particularly for people already on the medication who get sick with an infection that results in hospitalization.
The mechanism of protection is thought to be through a reduction in inflammatory chemicals that connect to cholesterol production. Continuing Lipitor during the Intensive Care Unit stay for people already on Lipitor upon arriving at the hospital dropped the death rate from 28% to 5%. So…if you are on a statin, know that is may be providing even more protection that you imagined in this critical setting.
Statin medications, like Lipitor, Zocor, and Crestor, have been shown in some studies to prevent infection or death from serious infection. This has been one of the ‘added’ benefits I’ve touted for people who were ‘on the fence’ about trying these medications to treat their cholesterol.
Unfortunately, in this large study reviewing the history of 31,000 patients, there seemed to be no benefits provided to those on statins; no decrease in infection or death rate from infection.
Still, there is an ongoing study looking at treating patients with sepsis (severe bloodstream infection) and beginning statins in that setting, to try to reduce the risks of death and disability.
Since statins have ‘anit-inflammatory’ effects, and Sepsis Syndrome is essentially a cascade of ‘out of control’ inflammation, it will be seen if this treatment provides some benefits and will be added to our treatment regimen for Sepsis. Look for this study in the next few years.