Patients taking statin medications — commonly used to reduce blood cholesterol levels — are at a 41 per cent lower risk of in-hospital death from Covid-19, researchers have found.
Statins block liver enzymes responsible for making cholesterol. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 93 per cent of patients who use a cholesterol-lowering drug use a statin.
The use of statins or an anti-hypertension medication was associated with a 32 per cent lower risk of death among Covid-19 inpatients with a history of cardiovascular disease or hypertension.
This is because statins and anti-hypertension medications stabilise the underlying diseases for which they are prescribed, making patients more likely to recover from Covid-19, according to researchers from the University of California San Diego.
In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, the research team analysed anonymised medical records of 10,541 patients admitted for Covid-19 over a nine-month period, January through September 2020, at 104 different hospitals in the US.
“From this data, we performed more advanced analyses as we attempted to control for coexisting medical conditions, socioeconomic status and hospital factors,” said lead author Lori Daniels, Professor and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at the varsity’s School of Medicine.
“In doing so, we confirmed our prior findings that statins are associated with a reduced risk of death from Covid-19 among patients hospitalised for Covid-19,” Daniels added.
The ACE2 receptor — the regulatory target of statins — helps control blood pressure. In 2020, it was discovered that SARS-CoV-2 virus primarily uses the same receptor to enter lung cells.
“As with any observational study, we cannot say for certain that the associations we describe between statin use and reduced severity of Covid-19 infection are definitely due to the statins themselves; however, we can now say with very strong evidence that they may play a role in substantially lowering a patient’s risk of death from Covid-19,” said Daniels.
“We hope that our research findings are an incentive for patients to continue with their medication.”