The use of statins before and after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery reduces cardiac complications, such as atrial fibrillation and also lowered the risk of death, according to a review article published in the journal The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.
The body often responds to CABG surgery and other major operations that involve prolonged anesthesia with an intense inflammatory reaction, which has been linked to postoperative complications. Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs that also have anti-inflammatory properties.
"Previous research has shown that discontinuation of the medication at the time of surgery is common practice," said Amr F. Barakat, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. "The results of our review call for proactive efforts to counsel patients and surgeons about the benefit of statins -- a benefit that definitely outweighs the risk of rare potential side effects."
"It appears that taking statins prior to CABG surgery can help protect patients against developing atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that is a common complication following heart surgery," said Dr. Elgendy. "Statin use also seems to be associated with a reduced risk of death during and immediately after surgery."
The researchers also found that taking statins prior to surgery appeared to be well-tolerated by patients, and the risk of side effects was low compared to the potential benefits.
They added that further research is needed on optimal statin dose and duration, as well as on the impact statins may have in other areas. "The current evidence suggested that the benefit of statin use in reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack, or kidney problems after surgery is not well established," said Dr. Barakat. "Further research is needed to study these associations to determine if the benefits of statins expand beyond cardiac complications."