Cholesterol lowering drugs known as statins can help prevent flu death by nearly 50 percent according to a recent study.
Preliminary findings published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases has found that hospitalized influenza patients who were taking statins prior to their hospital stay were half as likely to die. The study also found that the same effects held true even when adjustments were made for heart disease and other factors.
While the statin study shows promise in the fight against severe cases of the flu, authors in the study state that it’s too early to prescribe the drugs for flu symptoms. Dr. Ann Thomas a public health physician with the Oregon Public Health Division in Portland told USA Today:
“At this point, statins should not become the standard of care for people hospitalized with the flu,” and “We would like to see more studies, [and] I think it would be worthwhile to do these studies.”
Virologists are now examining statins mainly because of their anti-inflammatory properties which may help reduce damaged caused by the influenza virus.
At this time more information is needed as this was the first study to examine the relationship between the flu, statins and death.
The study included more than 3,000 patients with lab-confirmed influenza in ten states from 2007-2008. The study found that 41 percent of patients on statins were less likely to die, even when adjusting for heart, lung and kidney disease, the patients age and whether or not they had received a flu shot.
In the meantime Thomas admits that questions still remain:
“The big question at baseline was were the people on statins healthier than those not on statins and did that account for why they were less likely to die?” Thomas said. “That’s difficult to answer.”
More research is expected in the near future.
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