Objective: Statins have pleiotropic effects that are independent of their lipid-lowering ability. We have previously shown that prior statin therapy is associated with a decreased risk of severe sepsis in patients admitted with acute bacterial infection. The aim of this study was to determine whether statin therapy is associated with a decreased risk of infection-related mortality.
Design: A prospective, observational, population-based study.
Setting: Tertiary university medical center.
Patients: Using a computerized database, 11,490 patients with atherosclerotic diseases were identified and followed for up to 3 yrs. Two groups of patients were compared: those receiving statins in the final month before follow-up termination and those who were not.
Measurements and main results: The primary outcome was infection-related mortality. Of the 11,362 patients included in the final analysis, 5,698 (50.1%) belonged to the statin group. Median follow-up was 19.8 months (interquartile range, 14.3-33.3). The risk of infection-related mortality was significantly lower in the statin compared with the no-statin group (0.9% vs. 4.1%), reflecting a relative risk of 0.22 (95% confidence interval, 0.17-0.28). Stepwise Cox proportional hazard survival analysis including a propensity score for receiving statins revealed that the protective effect of statins adjusted for all known potential confounders remained highly significant (hazard ratio, 0.37; 95% confidence interval, 0.27-0.52).
Conclusions: Therapy with statins may be associated with a reduced risk of infection-related mortality. This protective effect is independent of all known comorbidities and dissipates when the medication is discontinued. If this finding is supported by prospective controlled trials, statins may play an important role in the primary prevention of infection-related mortality.