Study: Statins Reduce Death Rate in Patients with COVID-19

This research sought to understand the relationship of prior medication exposure, existing health conditions, and COVID-19 outcomes using data from the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry.

Cholesterol-lowering or statin medications were associated with more than a 40% reduction in deaths in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, new research finds.

In the study published in PLOS ONE, University of California-San Diego researchers used data from more than 10,500 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 through September 2020 at 104 U.S. hospitals enrolled in the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Registry. The objective was to evaluated the associations between statin use and outcomes.

Prior to admission, 42% of the patients used statins. Seven percent were on statins alone, while 35% were taking statins plus anti-hypertensives.

Sixty-six percent of patients had a history of hypertension, 41% of patients were obese, 40% had diabetes, 40% had dyslipidemia, and 32% had CVD. Other comorbid conditions with 5% or greater prevalence included pulmonary disease (18%), chronic kidney disease (15%), cancer (12%) and history of smoking/vaping (7%).

Among the 3,360 CVD patients, 83% also had a history of hypertension.

Overall, 21% of patients died. However, statins were associated with a more than 40% reduction in in-hospital death, and a greater than 25% reduction in the risk of developing a severe outcome, AHA said in a statement.

“To our knowledge, this is the first analysis to investigate the effect of statins on COVID-19 outcomes in a ‘healthy’ population without underlying CVD or hypertension,” the researchers wrote. “Although the effect of statins in this healthier population was not statistically significant, the point estimates of the odds ratios suggest that statins could still be protective.”

Early in the pandemic, there were questions as to whether certain cardiovascular medications might worsen COVID-19 infections, according to Lori Daniels, M.D., MAS, lead author of the study and professor and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health.

“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,” Daniels said in the AHA statement.

The results support the “continuation and aggressive initiation of statin and anti-hypertensive therapies among patients at risk for COVID-19, if these treatments are indicated based upon underlying medical conditions,” AHA noted.