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Statins Reduced Death Risk From Pneumonia
Date:10/28/2008

One-third lower mortality for hospitalized patients, study found

TUESDAY, Oct. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The death rate among people hospitalized for pneumonia was one-third lower for those taking statins than for those not taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs, a Danish study found.

While the findings are preliminary and offer hope, more research is needed before doctors can prescribe statins as infection fighters, experts said.

"I think we need to interpret these findings with caution," said Dr. Reimar W. Thomsen, professor of clinical epidemiology at Aarhus University, and lead author of a report in Oct. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

But statins are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect, Thomsen said, and "we are just beginning to understand that systemic infections such as pneumonia cause inflammation that may trigger a lot of adverse reactions in human bodies."

It's possible that other factors, such as the "healthy-user effect," meaning that people who take statins are in better shape and take better care of themselves, might explain the results of the study, Thomsen added.

"However, we aimed to control for most of the confounding factors in the analyses," he said. "I do not find it likely that confounding explains the whole statin effect."

Other drugs for coronary conditions, such as beta-blockers and aspirin, did not have any effect on pneumonia mortality in the study, Thomsen noted.

Thomsen and his colleagues reviewed data on 29,900 adults hospitalized with pneumonia between 1997 and 2004. Of these, just 1,371 were taking statins at the time. The 30-day death rate for the statin group was 10.3 percent, compared to 15.7 percent for those not taking statins. The 90-day death rate was 16.8 percent for the statin group and 22.4 percent for those not taking the drugs.

"Healthy user plus biological effects cause this finding," Thomsen said
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