Statins, which are drugs used to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, are apparently beneficial to reduce cardiac complications in patients who receive coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), when the drugs are taken before and after the operation, according to findings that are going to be published in February in the Journal The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Results would appear to show that the risks of dying during and after surgery, are probably lower than when statins are not taken. Also, complications that can occur after surgery, such as atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular and abrupt heart rate that can cause stroke, can be reduced.

Statin, which is a drug that lowers the level of cholesterol in the blood, is apparently beneficial to reduce cardiac complications in patients who receive coronary artery bypass grafting. Credit: Shutterstock

Statins are drugs used to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, which interfere with the production of the substance in the liver, while they lower bad cholesterol levels and raise good cholesterol levels. Statins also slow the formation of plaques in the arteries, wrote MedlinePlus from the U.S National Library of Medicine.

It was explained that, beside its properties of reducing cholesterol levels, statins can also be good to avoid inflammation. That being said, postoperative complications linked to inflammatory reactions that are a consequence of being exposed to long periods of anesthesia when people have CABG surgery, can be reduced.

To evaluate the effects of statins in CABG surgeries, the team of researchers studied the effects of the drug while patients used it before and after surgery. F. Barakat, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, encouraged physicians to take a look at the potential benefits of statins.

“Previous research has shown that discontinuation of the medication at the time of surgery is common practice. The results of our review call for proactive efforts to counsel patients and surgeons about the benefit of statins – a benefit that definitely outweighs the risk of rare potential side effects,” Barakat said.

It was remarked that side effects caused by statins are probably not relevant when comparing them to its benefits. However, more investigation needs to be done, in order to determine the dose that should be prescribed and the duration of its benefits. According to Dr. Barakat, the current evidence demonstrates that using statins can apparently reduce the risk of a stroke, heart attack, and kidney problems after surgery, but he added the results are not conclusive and more associations need to be studied.

“It appears that taking statins prior to CABG surgery can help protect patients against developing atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that is a common complication following heart surgery. Statin use also seems to be associated with a reduced risk of death during and immediately after surgery,” said Dr. Elgendy from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

In the United States, more than 36 million people take statins. Last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force declared that adults in ages between 40 and 75 years, that have at least 10 percent of risk of getting heart diseases, should take the medicine. Also, those with a risk of 7.5 percent should do the same as a preventive measure.

Heart diseases are the primary cause of death for men and women in the nation. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year approximately 610,000 Americans die of heart disease, which represents an amount of 1 in every 4 deaths is the country. The CDC wrote that the main risk factors of the disease are high blood pressure, high bad cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity.

Source: EurekaAlert!