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Statins show promise for blood clot prevention

Statins, the class of drugs commonly used for lowering cholesterol, are now showing promise at preventing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots, an affliction that occurs in nearly 2 million Americans each year. New research presented at CHEST 2008, the 74th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP), suggests that the use of statins may be associated with a significant reduction in the occurrence of venous thromboembolism (VTE), a condition that includes DVT and pulmonary embolism, in patients with solid organ tumors, including breast, lung, and colon cancers.

"The results of our research are interesting and thought provoking," said study author Danai Khemasuwan, MD, Albert Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. "We hope that our research alerts the scientific community to the potential of statins in reducing VTE."

Dr. Khemasuwan and his colleagues from Albert Einstein Medical Center evaluated the influence of statins use on the incidence of VTE by reviewing 740 consecutive patients admitted to the hospital between October 2004 and September 2007 with a diagnosis of breast, lung, colon, prostate, stomach, esophagus, pancreas, ovary, kidney, or brain cancer. The occurrence of VTE, risk factors for VTE, and use of statins were recorded. Patients who either used statins for less than 2 months or who never used statins were allocated to the control group.

The mean age of the entire study population was 65 years, 52 percent of subjects were women, and 76 percent were African-American. A total of 26 percent of patients received statins, and the overall incidence of VTE was 18 percent. The analysis revealed that patients receiving statins were significantly less likely to develop VTE than the control group, with 8 percent of patients receiving statins developing VTE compared with 21 percent in the control group. A logistical regression analysis yielded the same results irrespective of smoking, documented metastatic disease, current use of chemotherapy, immobilization, and use of aspirin.

Although the authors could not draw conclusions about the cause and effect relationship between statins and VTE, Dr. Khemasuwan feels the data are promising. "If the results of our study are confirmed in a prospective randomized, controlled trial, this could have very significant implications for the medical community."

"Recent studies have examined the use of statins for the prevention of lung disease, stroke, and other neurologic disorders," said James A. L. Mathers, Jr., MD, FCCP, President of the American College of Chest Physicians. "The results of this study are promising and suggest a potential role for statins in the prevention of thromboembolism."


Contact: Jennifer Stawarz
American College of Chest Physicians

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