Statin pretreatment and risk of in-hospital atrial fibrillation among patients undergoing cardiac surgery: a collaborative meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials

Europace. 2015 Jun;17(6):855-63. doi: 10.1093/europace/euv001. Epub 2015 Mar 1.


Aims: Statin pretreatment in patients undergoing cardiac surgery is understood to prevent postoperative atrial fibrillation (AF). However, this is based on observational and limited randomized trial evidence, resulting in uncertainty about any genuine anti-arrhythmic benefits of these agents in this setting. We therefore aimed to quantify precisely the association between statin pretreatment and postoperative AF among patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

Methods and results: A detailed search of MEDLINE and PubMed databases (1st January 1996 to 31st July 2012) was conducted, followed by a review of the reference lists of published studies and correspondence with trial investigators to obtain individual-participant data for meta-analysis. Evidence was combined across prospective, randomized clinical trials that compared the risk of postoperative AF among individuals randomized to statin pretreatment or placebo/control medication before elective cardiac surgery. Postoperative AF was defined as episodes of AF lasting ≥5 min. Overall, 1105 participants from 11 trials were included; of them, 552 received statin therapy preoperatively. Postoperative AF occurred in 19% of these participants when compared with 36% of those not treated with statins (odds ratio 0.41, 95% confidence interval 0.31-0.54, P < 0.00001, using a random-effects model). Atrial fibrillation prevention by statin pretreatment was consistent across different subgroups.

Conclusion: Short-term statin pretreatment may reduce the risk of postoperative AF among patients undergoing cardiac surgery.

Keywords: Cardiac surgery; Meta-analysis; Postoperative atrial fibrillation; Statins.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Atrial Fibrillation / prevention & control*
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors