Statins may protect against kidney complications following elective surgery

April 11, 2011, American Society of Nephrology

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.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.