Statins may reduce death from, severity of COVID-19 among those with heart disease or high blood pressure

Research published today in The Public Library of Science ONE, PLOS ONE, examined the relationship between use of medications to control cholesterol or blood pressure levels, and the risk of death among people who were hospitalized due to COVID-19.

In an analysis of more than 10,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients across the United States, the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as statins, prior to admission was associated with a more than 40% reduction in in-hospital death, and a greater than 25% reduction in the risk of developing a severe outcome. The analysis compared similar patients who did and did not use statins or anti-hypertensive medication, among those both with and without underlying health conditions. 

“Early during the pandemic, there were questions as to whether certain cardiovascular medications might worsen COVID-19 infections,” said Lori Daniels, M.D., M.A.S., lead author of the study, professor and director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health. “We found that not only are statins and anti-hypertensive medications safe – they may very well be protective in patients hospitalized for COVID, especially among those with a history of hypertension or cardiovascular disease.”

This research sought to understand the relations between prior medication exposure, existing health conditions and COVID-19 outcomes using data from the American Heart Association’s COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry. The COVID-19 CVD Registry, powered by the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines® platform, contains de-identified health data on patients treated for COVID-19 at over 140 participating hospitals across the country. As of July 2021, data from more than 49,000 patient records had been contributed into the platform.

“There is much to be learned about the impacts COVID-19 has on the heart and our cardiovascular system,”  said Sandeep R. Das, M.D., MPH, MBA, FACC, FAHA, American Heart Association volunteer expert, COVID-19 CVD Registry committee co-chair and director for quality and value, cardiology division for UT Southwestern Medical Center.  “Research like this is encouraging and has the potential to accelerate treatment patterns as we continue to examine best practices and novel pathways that improve patient outcomes.”