Cleveland—Cardiac complications are reduced when statins are administered before and after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery, according to a new study.

The review article published online by The Annals of Thoracic Surgery points out that the practice reduces cardiac complications, such as atrial fibrillation, following surgery and also can reduce the risk of death during and after the procedure.

The study team, which was led by Cleveland Clinic Foundation researchers, called for more research on optimal dose and duration of statin use, as well as its benefits in reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack, or kidney injury after surgery.

Background information in the report notes that an intense inflammatory reaction often occurs with CABG and other surgeries with prolonged anesthesia, leading to postoperative complications. Statins, most often prescribed to lower cholesterol, have anti-inflammatory properties.

“Previous research has shown that discontinuation of the medication at the time of surgery is common practice,” said lead author Amr F. Barakat, MD. “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.”

For the study, researchers reviewed all related articles in the Medline database through July 2015 that examined statin use both before and after surgery.

“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,” explained co-author Islam Y. Elgendy, MD, of the University of Florida. “Statin use also seems to be associated with a reduced risk of death during and immediately after surgery.”

Study authors note that further research is needed on the effect statins might 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,” Barakat said in a Cleveland Clinic Foundation press release. “Further research is needed to study these associations to determine if the benefits of statins expand beyond cardiac complications.”

« Click here to return to Weekly News Update.