People who are taking statins may be less likely to die from coronavirus than similar people not on the medication, new research suggests.
Statins are prescribed for lowering cholesterol in the blood, and are a recommended and common intervention.
The new study looks at the relationship between statins and Covid mortality.
It found that statin treatment was associated with a slightly lower risk of dying from Covid-19, a correlation that did not vary significantly among risk groups.
Using data from Swedish registers, the Karolinska Institutet researchers followed 963,876 residents of Stockholm over the age of 45 between March and November 2020.
The results are based on analyses of data on the participants’ prescribed medication and healthcare and from the Cause of Death Register.
The information was analysed with respect to such factors as diagnosed medical conditions.
Co-first author Viktor Ahlqvist, doctoral student at the Department of Global Public Health, Karolinska Institutet, said: “All in all, our findings support the continued use of statins for conditions such as cardiovascular disease and high levels of blood lipids in line with current recommendations during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
The researchers say randomised studies will be needed to ascertain whether there is a causal relationship.
Limitations of the study include the use of prescription data without the possibility of checking individual drug use, and not being able to control for risk factors such as smoking and high BMI.
Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine and honorary consultant cardiologist, University of Sheffield, said: “Covid-19 can cause very severe lung infections but it also causes inflammation of the blood vessels.
“Because statins reduce inflammation in blood vessels there has been a lot of debate as to whether they might improve outcome in Covid-19.
“This study does not prove that statins reduce death in Covid-19, but does provide some supportive clues.
“It observes that people prescribed statins were less likely to die than similar people.
“However, this does not prove the statins caused the reduced death rates; to do so needs a randomised controlled trial of the kind the Recovery investigators have pioneered.”
The study is published in PLOS Medicine.