Study: Statins Can Combat Flu

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Influenza is an infectious disease that can bring mild to severe effects to the patient affected. In the last few years, several strains of the virus evolved like swine flu virus and A/H1N1 virus. Influenza spread in different parts of the world through seasonal epidemics, which had resulted to pandemics in some cases. Presently, the prophylactic intervention for flu is vaccination and the curative treatment involves antiviral drug administration (like Tamiflu). In the findings written in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, statins (anti-cholesterol drugs) have been identified to aid in combating influenza in seriously ill patients.

Thirty-three percent of the 3,043 hospitalized patients, with laboratory-confirmed flu, received statin drugs before or during hospitalization. Patients who were not given statins were twice more probably to die, compared to those who received the drug. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that statins were linked to a reduction in possibility of dying among those hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed flu if adjustments were made in the context of age, race, chronic lung disease, renal disease, cardiovascular disease, influenza vaccine receipt and antiviral drug administration for 48 hours upon admission.

Utilizing the data of hospitalized adults in 2007-2008 influenza season, L. Vandermeer, MPH, with the Oregon Public Health Division in Portland, conducted this research. The team assessed the relationship between patients receiving statins and influenza-linked deaths. They got the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Engineering Infections Program that made and thorough surveillance of hospitalized patients who had influenza in 59 counties in 10 states.

Moreover, the authors cited that there may have been other factors not included, since the study was just observational. The amount of statin used by patients in their entire hospitalization was not taken into account by the team.  To completely elucidate the possible benefits of statins in treating flu, they believed that controlled trials are necessary.

Statins are anti-cholesterol medications commonly used in older patients having cardiac disease, hypertension or confirmed high cholesterol conditions. In relation with this, the investigators wanted to explore dose response, especially in younger patients. They also expressed the need to trial different statin classes so that the drugs having the best outcomes can be determined.

Moreover, Dr. Edward E. Walsh, of the Infectious Diseases Division at Rochester General Hospital (Rochester, N.Y.) stated the one of the notable strengths of this recent research is the inclusion in the analysis of patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza only. Additional studies are deemed important in quantifying and categorizing statin use against influenza; nonetheless, the findings bring promise in getting ready for the coming flu season.




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