ATLANTA – Statin use among a cohort of veterans with traumatic spinal cord injury reduced all-cause mortality, results from a novel observational study showed.
“This is the first clinical study to show that administration of statins irrespective of the lipid levels reduces all-cause mortality, not just cardiovascular mortality,” lead study author Meheroz H. Rabadi, MD, said in an interview in advance of the annual meeting of the American Neurological Association. “This clinical study confirms the impression of several prior studies in animal models with spinal cord injury, which have shown the anti-inflammatory and neuro-protective effects of statins.”
To determine whether statin use in a cohort of patients with traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCI) reduced overall and cause-specific mortality, Dr. Rabadi and his colleagues retrospectively reviewed the medical charts and death records of 163 individuals with SCI who were treated at the Oklahoma City Veterans Administration Medical Center Spinal Cord Injury & Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and ALS Program, an outpatient clinic, from 2000 to 2014. They collected data on statin use, duration of statin use, and intensity of statin therapy, as well as cause-specific mortality.
Of the 163 subjects studied, 75 (46%) had taken statins for an average of 5.7 years, and had greater cardiovascular risk burdens than those who had not taken statins. The mortality rate for patients on statins, however, was 33.8-49.9 per 1,000 person-years, compared with 47.4-66.8 deaths per 1,000 person-years among those who had not taken statins. Kaplan-Meier survival curves showed a significant difference between the two groups (P less than .0052). Within the statin group, neither duration nor average intensity of statin therapy affected mortality.
“We were surprised to note statins reduced pneumonia-related mortality in patients with SCI,” Dr. Rabadi said. “Since our publication there have been several publications, including a meta-analysis of statins reducing community-acquired pneumonia-related mortality and reducing the need for mechanical ventilation or ICU admission (see CHEST 2015;148:523-32, Clin Med (Lond) 2017;17(5):403-7, and Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao. 2018;40(1):30-40). Another surprise was neither the intensity, duration, or types of statin affected the result.”
He acknowledged certain limitations of the analysis, including its retrospective design, its relatively small sample size, and the fact that most of the subjects were non-Hispanic white men. “Routine prescription of statins in any dose in patients with SCI – even if the lipid profile is normal – is more beneficial than detrimental over the long haul,” concluded Dr. Rabadi, who also directs the Oklahoma VAMC Stroke Program. “Nearly all our patients with SCI continue to be on varying doses of statins.”
Dr. Rabadi reported having no financial disclosures.
SOURCE: Ann Neurol. 2018;84[S22]:S127. Abstract S302.