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Lipid-lowering drugs may reduce the risk of death after surgery, according to new research. In the study, patients undergoing major noncardiac surgery who used lipid-lowering drugs, particularly statins, during the first 2 days of their hospital stay were 38% less likely to die while hospitalized than those who didn't use the drugs.


Researchers evaluated the records of 780,591 people age 18 or older who underwent major noncardiac surgery during 2000 and 2001 at 329 U.S. hospitals. They evaluated in-hospital mortality rates among those who received lipid-lowering drugs during the first 2 days of their hospital stay and those who didn't receive the drugs. Almost 10% of all patients received lipid-lowering drugs.


A total of 23,100 patients died during hospitalization. Among patients who received the lipid-lowering drugs, the mortality rate was 2.18%-significantly lower than the rate for those who didn't receive the drugs (3.15%). The reduction in mortality was more evident among those who used statins than among those using other lipid-lowering drugs.


The researchers believe that statins work by stabilizing atherosclerotic plaques, which can rupture and trigger a postoperative myocardial infarction. They call for clinical trials to determine what timing and duration of statin therapy is most beneficial to patients.




"Lipid-Lowering Therapy and In-Hospital Mortality following Major Noncardiac Surgery," JAMA, P. Lindenauer, et al., May 5, 2004.