Statins may protect against kidney complications following elective surgery

Taking a statin before having major elective surgery reduces potentially serious kidney complications, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN).

Each year, more than 230 million major elective surgeries are performed around the world. Unfortunately, many patients who undergo major operations develop kidney injury soon after surgery, often due to decreased blood flow to the kidneys and/or the effects of inflammation.

Animal studies suggest that the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins protect the kidneys from such damage, but whether a similar benefit occurs in humans is uncertain. To investigate, Amber Molnar, MD (University of Western Ontario and Lawson Health Research Institute, in London, Canada), Amit Garg, MD, PhD (University of Western Ontario and Lawson Health Research Institute, in London; and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, in Toronto, Canada) and their colleagues conducted a population-based retrospective study of all older patients who underwent major in the province of Ontario, Canada from 1995 to 2008. Surgeries included cardiac, thoracic, vascular, intra-abdominal, and retroperitoneal procedures.

A total of 213,347 patients from 211 hospitals underwent major elective surgery, and 4,020 patients (1.9%) developed postoperative kidney injury within two weeks of surgery. A total of 1,173 patients (0.5%) required dialysis within two weeks of surgery, and 5,974 patients (2.8%) died within a month of surgery.

Prior to surgery, 67,941 patients (32%) were taking a . Patients taking a statin were 20% less likely to develop kidney injury, need dialysis, and die compared to patients who were not taking a statin. Also, there was evidence of a dose-effect, with patients on higher potency statins having less kidney injury. In addition, statins were beneficial whether they were started greater than 90 days or less than 30 days prior to surgery.

"Our study suggests that statin use in older persons results in less following major elective surgery and reduces the risk of premature death after surgery," said Dr. Molnar. She added that the results warrant further investigation with more rigorous studies, but such trials will be difficult to carry out. "Conducting randomized controlled trials to examine whether statins are protective against definitive renal outcomes, such as acute dialysis, will be logistically challenging given that the need for acute dialysis is a relatively rare event," she said.

More information: The article, "Statin Use Associates with Lower Incidence of Acute Injury after Major Elective Surgery" (doi 10.1681/ASN.2010050442) and editorial, "Statin Use Associates with Less Acute Kidney Injury after Major Elective Surgery" doi:10.1681/ASN.2011020186 will appear online on April 14, 2011.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

US hunts contacts of seriously ill Ebola patient

28 minutes ago

US health officials scoured the Dallas area Wednesday for people—including schoolchildren—who came in contact with a Liberian man who was diagnosed with Ebola, as it emerged a hospital mix-up saw him initially turned ...

Australia lifts Ebola donation to $16 million

38 minutes ago

Australia more than doubled its donation to the fight against Ebola in West Africa to 18 million Australian dollars ($16 million) on Thursday, but resisted demands to send personnel.

UN says Syria vaccine deaths was an NGO 'mistake'

12 hours ago

The recent deaths of Syrian children after receiving measles vaccinations was the result of a "mistake" by a non-governmental partner who mixed in a muscle relaxant meant for anesthesia, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general ...

First US child dies from enterovirus D68

13 hours ago

A child in the northeastern US state of Rhode Island has become the first to die from an ongoing outbreak of a respiratory virus, enterovirus D68, health officials said Wednesday.

User comments