Background: In patients with native coronary artery disease, strong evidence supports the use of statins to reduce the risk of recurrent cardiovascular events and improve survival. However, for patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG), statins appear to be underutilized, and concerns have been raised regarding their perioperative safety.
Objective: The goal of this systematic review is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of statin therapy before and after coronary surgical revascularization.
Methods: A systematic review was performed to retrieve relevant articles from the Medline database published between 1987 and January 2009.
Results: Administered before CABG, statins have been demonstrated to reduce perioperative mortality, stroke and atrial fibrillation. Preoperative statin therapy also reduces the systemic inflammatory response associated with cardiopulmonary bypass. Following CABG, statins inhibit saphenous vein graft disease and the progression of atherosclerosis in native coronary arteries. In addition, postoperative statins reduce the recurrence of cardiovascular events and improve all-cause mortality. High-intensity lipid reduction to achieve low-density lipoprotein levels to 70 mg/dl may benefit post-CABG patients, but this has yet to be evaluated prospectively. Adverse effects related to perioperative statin therapy seem to be extremely rare, and little data are available to support the practice of withholding statin therapy before or after surgery.
Conclusion: Numerous studies have demonstrated that statins improve the outcomes of patients undergoing CABG. The benefits seem to outweigh the risks associated with their use, both in the preoperative and postoperative period. In the absence of contraindications, essentially all CABG patients are candidates for life-long statin therapy that ideally should be started before surgery. The optimal postoperative statin regimen remains unknown and should be the subject of future study.