That's what some researchers are suggesting. “Statins may have a role in reducing mortality from influenza, but our findings do not justify broader use of statins without confirming these findings in the setting of randomized controlled trials,” study author Dr. Ann Thomas, from the Emerging Infections Program at the Oregon Department of Human Services Public Health Division in Portland.
“Statins may have a benefit, in conjunction with vaccine and antivirals, in reducing morbidity and mortality associated with influenza, likely due to their effect of reducing the body’s inflammatory response to influenza infection,” she tells HealthDay News in advance of her presentation today at the Infectious Diseases Society of America annual meeting in Philadelphia.
Her team examined outcomes of hospitalized flu patients over two flu seasons and found those on statins were more likely to be older, male, white or Asian with underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease. And they were more likely to have had a flu shot. Those with heart disease were more likely to die, but those given statins in the hospital were less likely to die, HealthDay writes.
“Our data are from the 2007-2008 influenza season, well before novel H1N1 emerged, so no one knows for sure if statins would reduce mortality from H1N1,” she tells HealthDay. “However, since the likely mechanism of statins in reducing mortality is their general effect of down-regulating the immune system, it is plausible that statins might be useful in treating influenza infections due to novel H1N1."
Not everyone agrees. One doc says the study is of limited value...
“Influenza increases your risk of dying from heart disease. At the same time, statins reduce your risk of dying from heart disease. So, it’s not surprising to find that there are fewer deaths among those taking statins,” Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, tells HealthDay. “You can’t conclude from this study that people with influenza should take statins. Statins are protective in a situation where the heart is at risk, even influenza — that, I’ll buy.”