Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cholesterol-lowering Drugs and the Flu

Picture credit : "Vampire cough"* as seen in

Statins may reduce mortality among patients hospitalized with influenza.

The role of statins, including Lipitor, Simvor and Zocor, in the reduction of serum lipids has been well documented. More recently, statins have been shown to modify intercellular interactions and cellular chemotaxis of the immune system and reduce the release of cytokines and acute-phase proteins.

Influenza viruses are potent inducers of many biological mediators of inflammation; several proinflammatory cytokines have been positively correlated with the symptoms of clinical illness of influenza, and cytokine dysregulation is regarded as a major contributor to the severe pathophysiologic changes seen in human disease caused by the avian H5N1 and the 1918 pandemic influenza viruses.

Although statins have a theoretical benefit in downregulating the immune response associated with influenza virus infection, only a few studies have investigated their effect on influenza, and these have found mixed results.

Researchers at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center studied adults who were hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza from 2007-2008 to evaluate the association between patients who were prescribed statins and influenza-related deaths.

Among 3,043 hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza, 33 percent were given statin medications prior to or during hospitalization. After adjusting for various factors, researchers found that patients not receiving statins were almost twice as likely to die from influenza as those who received the medication.

So if you are on a statin to lower your blood cholesterol level, this is a bonus.

However, William Schaffner, who co-authored the study led by Meredith Vandermeer, stressed that receiving the influenza vaccine each year is still the best defense against influenza.

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The above story is reprinted with editorial adaptation by the Zestzfulness Team from materials provided by Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The article has been published in the December 13, 2011 online issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases: Vandermeer ML, Thomas AR, Kamimoto L, Reingold A, Gershman K, Meek J, Farley MM, Ryan P, Lynfield R, Baumbach J, Schaffner W, Bennett N, Zansky S. Association Between Use of Statins and Mortality Among Patients Hospitalized With Laboratory-Confirmed Influenza Virus Infections: A Multistate Study. J Infect Dis. 2012 Jan;205(1):13-9.

CLICK HERE for the complete paper.

Vampire Cough to prevent spreading the flu virus, CLICK HERE for the video presentation.

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