Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) investigated suggestions that statins may benefit the inflammation that occurs during infectious disease, such as community acquired-pneumonia (CAP). The prospective randomized clinical trial (RCT) study indicates that statins do not significantly benefit adults hospitalized with CAP, as this therapy did not reduce hospital length of stay or in-hospital mortality.
The research study, “Statin Use and Hospital Length of Stay Among Adults Hospitalized With Community-acquired Pneumonia,” was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
CAP is a classification of pneumonia in which the infection is acquired outside of the hospital or clinic setting; it is the most common type of pneumonia infection. A consistent hallmark and critical driver of pneumonia is the dysregulation of the inflammatory response.
Statins, known for their anti-inflammatory properties, have been suggested to counter this dysregulation, ultimately leading to shorter disease duration and reduced morbidity. The potential benefit of statins on infections such as pneumonia was concluded as a result of animal studies and retrospective observational studies.
However, these studies must be validated with prospective clinical trials, as the nature of retrospective observational studies leaves room for misinterpretation due to unknown factors such as the vaccination status, additional medical complications, and the socioeconomic status of the patients.
In collaboration with the Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community (EPIC) study, researchers at the CDC Influenza Division conducted an RCT to assess the impact of statins on both the length of stay (LOS) and rate of morbidity in the hospital as an outcome of CAP.
By comparing patients that received statins before and during hospitalization to those who did not receive statins, researchers found no difference in the LOS or rate of morbidity as a result of CAP between these groups.
These results were in contrast to the retrospective observational studies, which suggested that statins provide benefits to CAP patients. However, the wealth of information collected during this prospective RCT study demonstrated that factors such as age, weight, insurance status, general health habits, and additional medical complications may bias patients for statin use and influence CAP outcomes. These factors should also be taken into account when determining the statin-specific benefit during CAP infection. This finding highlights the importance of careful study design in the proper interpretation of retrospective observational studies.
When additional patient factors were accounted for, no significant association was found between statins and reduced length of stay or rate of morbidity for patients hospitalized for CAP. This suggests that statins do not play a pivotal role in reducing the negative physiological outcomes associated with CAP.