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20-09-2010 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Statins reduce risk for venous thromboembolism


Free abstract

MedWire News: The use of statins can prevent a large proportion of venous thromboembolism (VTE) events, a meta-analysis has found.

Pooled analysis of 10 studies found that statin use was associated with a 41% lower odds for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and a 30% lower odds for pulmonary embolism (PE), with both reductions statistically significant.

Patients included in the meta-analysis were generally at low risk for VTE, and the authors call for future studies to identify subgroups of patients who can gain the most from statins in VTE prevention as well as delineating the role for statins as therapy for VTE.

Craig Coleman (University of Connecticut, Hartford, USA) and team sought to determine the impact of statin therapy on VTE incidence. They explain: "Statins are commonly prescribed for their lipid-lowering capacity but other benefits may include anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects, which may translate into antithrombotic activity."

To investigate, they identified and pooled data from one randomized controlled trial and nine observational studies in a total of 971,307 patients. Meta-analysis revealed that statin use was associated with a statistically significant reduction in the risk for developing VTE, with an adjusted odds ratio (AOR) of 0.68.

Furthermore, this beneficial effect extended to the two major forms of VTE, with AORs of 0.59 for DVT and 0.70 for PE.

There was a high degree of statistical heterogeneity among the studies in the analysis and a low likelihood of publication bias, Coleman's group remarks. The results were not significantly altered by excluding poorer-quality studies.

In an accompanying editorial, A Shantsila and Y Lip, from University of Birmingham Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences in the UK, said that the precise mechanisms underlying these "prominent beneficial effects of statins" are not completely clear.

Likewise, the clinical implications of the study remain to be determined. "Widespread use of statins for the primary prophylaxis of VTE is unlikely," they wrote. "Clearly, more data are needed in this intriguing field."

The meta-analysis and editorial appear in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Joanna Lyford