At the beginning of the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic and with a vaccination campaign that seems to be taking off, numerous studies continue to be carried out to determine the factors that cause a worse prognosis among patients admitted for Covid-19.
One of the specialties most involved in this matter is internal medicine, whose professionals are especially dedicated to the care of the pandemic.
Thus, a study of the Spanish Society of Internal Medicine (SEMI) has compared the clinical characteristics, complications and prognosis of COVID-19 disease among patients who, prior to infection, were being treated with statins, a group of drugs used primarily to combat the effects of cholesterol in the blood.
The conclusion is that maintaining treatment for hypercholesterolemia during hospitalization for Covid-19 reduces the need for mechanical ventilation invasive disease and the probability of developing acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and acute renal failure.
Of a total of 11,523 patients included in the SEMI-COVID Registry and analyzed for the study, a total of 2,921 had received prior treatment with anti-cholesterol drugs at the time of their admission to the hospital, while the remaining 6,669 patients had no prior statin treatment.
Among those who had received prior statin therapy, 1,130 maintained such therapy with this type of drug during hospitalization for Covid-19. The rest, 1,791, no.
When analyzing both groups it was observed that in patients who continued statin treatment during hospitalization for COVID-19 there was a lower mortality for all causes, lower incidence of acute kidney injury and lower incidence of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.
The percentages between the two groups studied were as follows: Only 5.35% of the patients who continued taking statins required mechanical ventilation, compared to 8.57% of those who stopped taking them.
Also, there was a lower incidence of sepsis4.82% versus 9.85%, compared to patients who did not continue receiving statins in the hospital.
“Evidence suggests that statins exert antiviral activity and could block the infectivity of encapsulated viruses,” they say. Furthermore, they suggest that “statins, as anti-inflammatories, play a critical role in the inhibition of coronavirus infection due to their effects on the vascular endothelium.”
But internists warn that it is not always possible to maintain treatment for hypercholesterolemia when a patient is admitted because of the coronavirus. And one of the fundamental reasons is the possible interactions between cholesterol drugs and drugs used to treat SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Internal medicine specialists explain that, although we are talking about generally safe drugs, when the disease that causes Covid-19 is treated with antiretroviral drugs or some antibiotics, it is recommended that the doctors in charge provide special attention to possible interactions with these drugs.
Still, the researchers reiterate that more prospective studies and clinical trials are needed to assess the effects of statin treatment in COVID-19 patients and establish the mechanisms through which statins exert these potential beneficial effects.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.