Statin therapy is associated with improved perioperative outcomes and long-term mortality following carotid revascularization in the Vascular Quality Initiative

J Vasc Surg. 2023 Jan;77(1):158-169.e8. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2022.08.019. Epub 2022 Aug 25.


Objective: Statin therapy is the standard of care for patients with carotid artery stenosis given its proven cardiovascular benefits. However, the impact of statin therapy on outcomes in patients undergoing carotid revascularization in the Vascular Quality Initiative has not yet been evaluated. Therefore, our aim was to investigate the association of statin therapy with outcomes following carotid endarterectomy (CEA), transfemoral carotid artery stenting (tfCAS), and transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR).

Methods: We identified all patients who underwent CEA, tfCAS, or TCAR in the Vascular Quality Initiative registry from January 2016 to September 2021. To compare outcomes, we stratified patients by procedure type and created 1:1 propensity score-matched cohorts of patients who received no preoperative statin therapy (within 36 hours of procedure) versus those who received preoperative statin therapy. Propensity scores incorporated demographic characteristics, comorbidities, carotid symptom status, preoperative medications, and physician and hospital procedural experience. The primary outcome was a composite end point of in-hospital stroke and/or death. As a secondary analysis, we performed repeat propensity score-matching by postoperative statin use (prescribed at discharge) and assessed 5-year mortality. Relative risks (RR) and hazard ratios (HR) were calculated using log binomial regression and Cox regression, respectively.

Results: Among 97,835 CEA, 20,303 tfCAS, and 22,371 TCAR patients, 15%, 17%, and 10% of patients did not receive preoperative statin therapy, respectively. Compared with statin use, no statin use was associated with a higher risk of in-hospital stroke or death among 13,434 matched CEA patients (no statin, 1.7% vs statin, 1.4%; RR, 1.2; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.02-1.5) and among 2707 matched tfCAS patients (4.8% vs 2.8%; RR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3-2.3). However, there was no difference for this outcome by statin use among 2089 matched TCAR patients (1.8% vs 1.6%; RR, 1.1; 95% CI, 0.7-1.8). At 5 years, no statin therapy at discharge was associated with higher 5-year mortality after CEA (15% vs 10%; HR, 1.8; 95% CI, 1.6-2) and tfCAS (18% vs 14%; HR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2-1.8), but there was no difference after TCAR (14% vs 11%; HR, 1.3; 95% CI, 0.9-1.8).

Conclusions: Compared with statin use, no statin use was associated with a higher risk of in-hospital stroke or death and 5-year mortality among CEA and tfCAS patients. Although there was no significant difference in outcomes among TCAR patients, this may in part be due to lower statistical power in this cohort. Overall, statin therapy is essential in the short- and long-term management of patients undergoing carotid revascularization. Our findings not only support current Society for Vascular Surgery recommendations for statin therapy in patients undergoing carotid revascularization, but they also highlight an important opportunity for quality improvement.

Keywords: Carotid artery stenosis; Carotid revascularization; Statin therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Carotid Arteries
  • Carotid Stenosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Stenosis* / surgery
  • Endarterectomy, Carotid* / adverse effects
  • Endovascular Procedures* / adverse effects
  • Femoral Artery
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stents
  • Stroke* / etiology
  • Stroke* / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome