Statins protect against influenza mortality, study shows

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In what has become the latest positive news about statins, researchers have found they appear to reduce the risk of death in patients hospitalized with the flu.

In a study of 3,043 men and women hospitalized with the flu, 151 died within 30 days of testing positive for influenza. However, after controlling for race, sex, underlying disease and flu vaccination status, researchers found that those who were taking statins had a 41% reduced risk of death compared to those not taking statins.

Investigators are still uncertain as to why statins, which lower cholesterol, have a protective effect.

“The basic mechanism is that it is down-regulating the body's overactive immune response to flu,” study author Ann R. Thomas, M.D., a physician with the Oregon Public Health Division, told the New York Times. “It may be that people on statins are healthier at the outset,” she said.

The study was published in the January issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases