Statins may reduce risk of COVID-19 death: researchers

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

(stilllifephotographer/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(stilllifephotographer/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags COVID-19 Coronavirus Heart cardiovascular disease Statins

A recent study indicates patients taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs prior to COVID hospitalization are far less likely to die as a result of the virus.

According to research published in the Public Library of Science ONE (PLOS ONE)​, the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs (known as statins) before admission to the hospital lowered a COVID-19 patient’s risk of in-hospital death by 40% and reduced the risk of developing severe symptoms by more than 25%. The analysis (which looked at more than 10,000 hospitalized patients across the US) compared similar patients that both did and did not use statins or anti-hypertensive medication, among those both with and without underlying health conditions.

Lori Daniels, study lead author and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health, said the study may answer some uncertainty about the impact of specific heart drugs on COVID-19 patients.

Early during the pandemic, there were questions as to whether certain cardiovascular medications might worsen COVID-19 infections​,” Daniels said. “We found that not only are statins and anti-hypertensive medications safe – they may very well be protective in patients hospitalized for COVID, especially among those with a history of hypertension or cardiovascular disease​.”

According to researchers, the study sought to understand the relationships among prior medication exposure, existing health conditions, and COVID-19 outcomes using data from the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry. The COVID-19 CVD Registry, powered by the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) Get With The Guidelines platform, contains de-identified health data on patients treated for COVID-19 at over 140 participating hospitals across the country; the AHA reports that as of July 2021, data from more than 49,000 patient records had been contributed into the platform.

Sandeep Das (AHA volunteer expert, COVID-19 CVD Registry committee co-chair, and director for quality and value, cardiology division for UT Southwestern Medical Center) said the research detailed in the study could lead to positive outcomes for patients.

There is much to be learned about the impacts COVID-19 has on the heart and our cardiovascular system​,” said Das.  “Research like this is encouraging and has the potential to accelerate treatment patterns as we continue to examine best practices and novel pathways that improve patient outcomes​.”

The study can be read in PLOS ONE here.

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