A recent study conducted by investigators from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York-Presbyterian Hospital has found that individuals who took statins to lower their cholesterol were less likely to die if they were hospitalized with a severe form of COVID-19. Results from the study were published in the journal Nature Communications.
The leaders behind the study were a group of cardiologists who were on the frontlines during the first wave of the ongoing pandemic and cared for patients who were hospitalized with the disease. They noticed that many patients who got very sick had high rates of clotting and hyperinflammation.
"As cardiologists, statins naturally came to mind," Aakriti Gupta, a cardiologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and one of the co-lead authors of the study said. "In addition to their well-known cholesterol-lowering effect, statins are known for their anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and immunomodulatory properties."
For the study, the investigators analyzed 2,626 outcomes of patients who had COVID-19 and were admitted to an academic medical center in Manhattan during the first 18 weeks of the pandemic. They then compared 648 patients who regularly used satins before they acquired COVID-19 to 648 patients who did not use the medication. The participants were matched so that there were no significant differences.
Findings showed that for those who used statins, 14.8% (96) died within 30 days of hospital admission in comparison to 26.5% (172) of those who did not use them. Additionally, the investigators found that the medication was associated with a 50% reduction in hospital mortality, as well as higher levels of C-reactive proteins, which are a marker of inflammation.
The investigators are currently working on several randomized trials that are underway, which are looking to determine if statins are able to prevent hospitalization in outpatients and lower the risk of death to patients in the hospital.
"If their beneficial effect bears out in randomized clinical trials, statins could potentially prove to be a low-cost and effective therapeutic strategy for COVID-19," Mahesh V. Madhavan, co-lead author and a cardiologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center said.