Statin Use and the Risk of Subsequent Hospitalized Exacerbations in COPD Patients with Frequent Exacerbations

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2020 Feb 10;15:289-299. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S229047. eCollection 2020.


Rationale: The potential benefits of statins for the prevention of exacerbations in patients with COPD remains controversial. No previous studies have investigated the impact of statins on clinical outcomes in COPD patients with frequent exacerbations.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the association between the use of statins and the risk of subsequent hospitalized exacerbations in COPD frequent exacerbators.

Materials and methods: We conducted a population-based cohort study using the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. 139,223 COPD patients with a first hospitalized exacerbation between 2004 and 2012 were analyzed. Among them, 35,482 had a second hospitalized exacerbation within a year after the first exacerbation, and were defined as frequent exacerbators. 1:4 propensity score matching was used to create matched samples of statin users and non-users. The competing risk regression analysis model was used to evaluate the association between statin use and exacerbation risk.

Results: The use of statins was associated with a significantly reduced risk in subsequent hospitalized exacerbations in COPD patients after their first hospitalized exacerbation (adjusted subdistribution hazard ration [SHR], 0.89; 95% CI, 0.85-0.93, P<0.001). In frequent exacerbators, the SHR for subsequent hospitalized exacerbations in statins users was 0.88 (95% CI, 0.81-0.94, P=0.001). Subgroup analysis among frequent exacerbators demonstrated that the use of statins only provided a protective effect against subsequent hospitalized exacerbations in male patients aged 75 years and older, with coexisting diabetes mellitus, hypertension or cardiovascular disease, and no protective effect was observed in those with lung cancer or depression. Current use of statins was associated with a greater protective effect for reducing subsequent hospitalized exacerbation.

Conclusion: The use of statins was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of hospitalized exacerbations in COPD patients after a first hospitalized exacerbation and in specified COPD frequent exacerbators.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; exacerbation; frequent exacerbator; statin.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Databases, Factual
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory System Agents / adverse effects
  • Respiratory System Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Taiwan
  • Time Factors


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Respiratory System Agents

Grant support

This study was supported by a grant from Chiayi Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Taiwan (grant no. CORPG6D0211).