Popular cholesterol lowering drugs such as Lipitor (atorvastatin) fail to lower the risk of pneumonia in older adults, finds a new study.
"Prior research based on automated claims data had raised some hope-and maybe some hype-for statins as a way to prevent and treat infections including pneumonia," said Dr Sascha Dublin, a physician at Group Health and assistant investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies.
"But when we used medical records to get more detailed information about patients, our findings didn't support that approach," Dublin added.
The research, involving 65- to 94-year-old patients, showed that pneumonia risk was, if anything, almost 26 pct higher in people using statin than in those not using any; and this extra risk was 61 pct higher for pneumonia severe enough to require being hospitalized.
"As a doctor, I'm a fan of statins for what they've been proven to do: lowering cholesterol and risk of heart disease and stroke in people who've had either disease or are at risk for them," said Dublin.
"But now we and some others have found that statins may have gotten some unearned credit for health benefits that they don't actually have, including preventing pneumonia," the expert added.
The study appears in British Medical Journal.