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17-01-2010 | Respiratory | Article

Statin therapy may worsen disease course in asthma patients


Free abstract

MedWire News: Statin therapy may worsen the clinical disease course in patients with asthma, results from a preliminary study suggest.

Writing in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, Marina Ostroukhova (Rochester General Hospital, New York, USA) and team explain that 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statins) are associated with significantly improved outcomes in coronary artery disease, and have anti-inflammatory as well as cholesterol-lowering effects.

However, they add that statins alter the production of T-helper 1 cytokines and promote a T-helper 2 immune response, which may have a negative effect in allergic diseases such as asthma.

To investigate, the researchers studied the medical records of 759 consecutive patients with asthma to identify all those with allergic disease who had at least four physician visits over a 1-year period.

In total, 24 adult asthma patients who started taking statins after their initial asthma evaluation were compared with 26 asthma patients who had never taken these medications.

The team specifically compared change in FEV1 from baseline at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months, the need for increases in medication, and office visits for acute asthma attacks between the two groups.

After accounting for baseline variables, the researchers found that patients in the statin group had 3–5% poorer lung function at all time points compared with patients who were not taking statins.

At 6 months, 67% of patients in the statin group needed increased maintenance medication compared with 27% of those in the other group.

Patients in the statin group also used albuterol more frequently (75% vs 12%), were more likely to experience nocturnal awakening (33% vs 0%), and had more office visits for acute asthma attacks (38% vs 4%) at 6 months compared with patients who were not taking statins.

However, these differences between the two groups declined after 6 months, the researchers note.

Ostroukhova and team conclude: “This preliminary study demonstrated that patients with asthma who received statins had a worse clinical course than controls.

“Given the prevalence of both statin use and asthma, further research is needed.”

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

By Mark Cowen

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