The severe respiratory illness due to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is triggered by an intense pro-inflammatory host response. Statins, prescribed primarily for lipid reduction, are known to have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties and have been associated with a reduced mortality rate among COVID-19 patients taking statins as reported in two recent retrospective studies. However, a meta-analysis that included nine studies showed that statin use did not improve in-hospital outcomes of those with COVID-19. In addition, concerns regarding the use of statins and an increase in COVID-19 infections have been raised, as statins may increase the expression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the primary receptor for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Our goal was to investigate the effect of statins in COVID-19 patients in a large, diverse patient population across the United States containing nearly 120,000 patients diagnosed with COVID-19. We used propensity score matching of demographics, comorbidities, and medication indication to compare statin-treated patients (N = 2,297) with matched controls (N = 4,594). We observed a small, but statistically significant, decrease in mortality among patients prescribed statins (16.1%) when compared with matched COVID-19-positive controls (18.0 to 20.6%). These results support previous evidence that statins do not increase COVID-19-related mortality and may, in fact, have a mitigating effect on severity of the disease reflected in a slight reduction in mortality. Mixed findings on effects of statins in COVID-19 patients reported in the literature should prompt prospective randomized controlled trials in order to define better who might be advantaged with respect to clinical outcomes.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; electronic health records; inflammatory response; mortality rate; oxidative stress; statins.
Copyright © 2021 Marić, Oskotsky, Kosti, Le, Wong, Shaw, Sirota and Stevenson.