by Dr Punit Ramrakha
Published Date : 08/03/21
Cholesterol is an important component of our body. We need cholesterol in our blood to stay healthy. However, when it gets too high that cholesterol becomes a problem. For many people, lifestyle changes on their own are not enough to bring their high cholesterol down to a healthier level to lower the risk of heart disease. Many people will need to take statins, the main type of cholesterol-lowering drug.
Studies have suggested that those with metabolic conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, who often have elevated cholesterol levels, are more prone to severe COVID-19 infections. We know that cholesterol increases with age and inflammation (e.g. smoking and diabetes). The coronavirus seems to stick to the cholesterol molecules as they bind to their regular receptors on the cells known as the HDL-receptor B type 1, giving the virus prime position to the protein that facilitates it to infect the cells (https://www.nature.com/articles/s42255-020-00324-0). Perhaps lowering the cholesterol level might improve outcome.
Statins are the most widely prescribed drugs to lower cholesterol levels, but they also have several clear tropic effects including anti-inflammatory effects, and potential effects on thrombosis (clotting). Prior to the current coronavirus pandemic, studies in patients with respiratory distress syndrome seem to suggest that those with a hyper- inflammatory state had improved survival with simvastatin compared to placebo (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30078618/).
A recent study (Association between antecedent statin use and decreased mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 | Nature Communications) from the New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, US set out to try to determine whether patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 might have a better outcome if they were already taking statins. In a study involving 951 patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19, patients who were taking statins prior to admission were less likely to die within 30 days (14.8% versus 26.5%-users versus non-users) and less likely to end up on mechanical ventilation (18.6% versus 21.9%-users versus non-users).
While scientists call for more randomised trials, for those of us taking statins and concerned about our risk in the current pandemic, this study provides some consolation that our medication may be protecting us from the current coronavirus pandemic.
Consultant cardiologist Dr Punit Ramrakha on
Taking statins may lower mortality in Covid-19 infections
HearthealthNews.info - 08 March 2021