Sepsis is a serious medical condition that results from an overwhelming infection. People with cardiovascular disease have an increased risk of sepsis. When severe, sepsis can lead to multiple organ dysfunction including heart, lung, and kidney failure. Findings from animal studies suggest that statins might prevent sepsis but the effect in man has been unclear until now.
Donald Redelmeier (Sunnybrook & Women's Hospital, Ontario, Canada) andcolleagues' analysed data from over 69,000 people, aged over 65 years, with cardiovascular disease. The study group were all patients who had been hospitalised for acute coronary syndrome, stroke, or revascularisation; half had been prescribed statins after being discharged and half had not.
The data showed that after 2-years, 551 patients were admitted to hospital for sepsis in the statin group and 667 patients in the control group. This corresponds to a 19% reduction in the relative risk of sepsis for those taking statins. The authors call for randomised trials to test statins for the prevention of sepsis.
Dr Redelmeier states: "The use of statins in patients with atherosclerosis was associated with a significantly reduced risk of sepsis, including severe sepsis and fatal sepsis."
See also accompanying Comment.