Statins may decrease chances of influenza-related death

According to a study published on Wednesday in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, patients hospitalized with severe cases of influenza reduced their risk of dying in half by taking statins.
Millions of Americans take statins every day to lower their cholesterol and heart attack risk. The study examined data on 3,000 patients who were hospitalized during the 2007-2008 flu season in 10 states. Thirty-three percent of the patients were given statins while the rest were given antiviral medications. The researchers found those who were not treated with statins were twice as likely to die, CBS News reports.
The study's authors said that more research is required to determine how long a flu patient should take statins to enable this protective effect because most therapies involving statins are long term.
"At this point, statins should not become the standard of care for people hospitalized with the flu," Ann Thomas, the study's co-author and a public health physician with the Oregon Public Health Division, said, according to HealthDay. "We would like to see more studies."
Other experts are dubious about the connection between statins and reduced death risk. Jeffrey C. Kwong, a researcher with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Science in Toronto, said that other factors may have been in play, according to WebMD. Kwong said that the statin-takers may have been more health-conscious than other flu patients because they were preventively treating their cholesterol.
Studies estimate that between 3,000 and 49,000 Americans die each year from flu-related complications.