Statins improve H1N1 survival

Hospitalized patients with the seasonal flu who were taking statins were twice as likely to survive than those who weren't taking the drug.

As the supply of H1N1 vaccine struggles to meet demand, another class of drugs might offer an anxious public some peace of mind. A recent study found that hospitalized patients with the seasonal flu who were taking statins were twice as likely to survive than those patients who were not taking the drugs.

Ann Thomas, MD, Oregon Public Health Division, Portland, recently presented the results of the study at the Infectious Diseases Society of America conference in Philadelphia. The researchers studied 2,800 patients from 10 states hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed seasonal flu. Of these patients, 801 received statins in the hospital-possibly a continuation of their pre-hospital medication use. Three percent of the patients not taking statins either died in the hospital or during the month following discharge. This was twice the rate of those patients taking statins.

Statins are believed by researchers to work against the flu owing to their anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation and immune system overreaction causes much of the damage in cases of either seasonal or H1N1 flu.

Andrew Pavia, MD, pediatrics professor at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and head of the Infectious Disease Society’s Pandemic Flu Task Force, Arlington, VA, said it is an important study and added that he now places a high priority on testing statins as treatment.