Statins may prevent death from the common flu
Cholesterol-lowering statins seem to reduce death among patients hospitalized with the flu, and could become an important new tool in fighting the virus that proves fatal for thousands every season, according to a study lead by Oregon public health officials.
The main treatments now for influenza are antiviral drugs, or flu shots to prevent infection.
The statins may be an effective additional treatment, according to the observational study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The data on more than 3,000 patients with lab-confirmed flu are from the 2007-2008 flu season and come from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
A third were given statins before or during hospitalization, and those not given the medications were almost twice as likely to die from the flu.
“Our study found that statins were associated with a decrease in odds of dying among cases hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza, when adjusted for age, race, cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, renal disease, influenza vaccine receipt, and initiation of antivirals within 48 hours of admission,” wrote the authors, lead by Meredith L. Vandermeer, then with the Oregon Public Health Division in Portland.
There could be other factors not discovered by the researchers. They said randomized controlled trials are needed to fully assess the benefits and determine the best class of statins and the dose.