Millions of people taking statins may be less likely to die from Covid, according to research.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs are one of the most popular drugs in the world. They can also reduce inflammation of blood vessels, which has raised questions about whether they could help with outcomes in coronavirus patients.
Now an extensive study published in PLOS Medicine suggests that statins are associated with a slightly lower risk of dying from Covid-19. However, experts urged caution about the results and stressed that the findings do not show that statins can reduce mortality rates.
The research examined the relationship between drugs and Covid mortality. According to data from Swedish records, the Karolinska Institutet tracked 963,876 residents in Stockholm over the age of 45 between March and November 2020.
The results were based on analysis of data on medication and health care prescribed by participants and the registration of causes of death. The information was analyzed for factors such as diagnosed medical conditions.
Co-author Viktor Ahlqvist, of the World Public Health Department at the Karolinska Institute, said: “Ultimately, our findings support the continued use of statins for conditions such as cardiovascular disease and high blood lipid levels. in accordance with current recommendations during the Covid-19 pandemic “.
The researchers warned that randomized studies would be needed to determine if there is a causal relationship.
Limitations in the study include the use of prescription data without the ability to check individual drug use and not being able to control risk factors such as smoking and high BMI.
Tim Chico, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and an honorary consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, who did not participate in the study, said it was still unclear why statins could help Covid patients.
“Covid-19 can cause very serious lung infections, but it also causes inflammation of blood vessels,” he said. “Because statins reduce inflammation of blood vessels, there has been a great deal of debate about whether they could improve the outcome on Covid-19.
“This study does not show that statins reduce death in Covid-19, but it does provide some clues. It notes that people who prescribed statins were less likely to die than similar people. However, this does not show that statins caused reducing the mortality rate, which requires a randomized controlled trial. “
Chico also urged caution after other drugs that had initially proven promising to help Covid patients were not beneficial.
“It’s important to learn from this and measure yourself properly in how we describe these results,” he said. “These results do not in any way justify the use of statins to treat Covid-19. We already have effective ways to reduce the risk of death in Covid-19: social distancing, hand washing, use of masks and vaccination in the population and use of techniques and drugs with a good evidence base (such as dexamethasone) in people with severe Covid. 19 infections “.