22 Oct COVID-19: Observational Study Finds Patients on Statins Less Likely to Die
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Department of Global Public Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: There is a theoretical background for the discussion regarding statins in relation to COVID. Hyperinflammation and hypercoagulability have been identified as central to the development of severe COVID and COVID related complications. Hence, drugs that modulate the host immune response and inhibit thrombosis and vascular dysfunction have received a lot of attention. Statins are known to have pleiotropic effects; apart from their cholesterol lowering properties they are thought to modulate immune system processes and decrease the risk of thrombotic events. Previous observational studies on statins and COVID had some major methodological limitations and showed varying results.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: In this study, we compared individuals who were on statin treatment during the year before the pandemic outbreak in Stockholm with people who weren’t, and found that individuals who were on statins were slightly less likely to die from COVID-19 than those who weren’t. I should stress that the study is observational and cannot prove that statins caused the drop in risk. To be sure of a protective effect we would need a randomised controlled trial.
The current pandemic constitutes a unique situation in that policy and treatment decisions are being continuously made on the basis of limited, albeit growing, knowledge. In the absence of results from randomized clinical trials, our study can hopefully provide some guidance. Specifically, it gives further support for continuing statin treatment for conditions such as cardiovascular disease during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re happy that we have been able to provide additional, scientifically robust, support for the current recommendations.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our main message is that people should keep taking their statins as prescribed. We know that statin treatment reduces the risk of cardiovascular events in high risk groups, if there’s a direct effect on COVID mortality then that’s an added bonus.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: This is an observational study based on data from registries. Although we have been able to take into account/adjust our models for a large range of possible (confounding) factors, such as pre-existsing medical conditions and other medications, there is always a possibility that the estimated treatment effect is in fact due to other, unknown, factors.
To determine a cause-and-effect relationship we would need randomised controlled trials.
Berrgqvist R. et al., (2021) HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors and COVID-19 mortality in Stockholm, Sweden: A registry-based cohort study. PLOS Medicine. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003820,
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