Cholesterol-lowering statins such as Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) are among the most widely prescribed drugs on the market today. Their purpose is to lower blood cholesterol by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver, but they have several other effects. With regular use, they can not only lower “bad cholesterol” (LDL) but also
Like cholesterol, inflammation of the coronary arteries is one of the several factors that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. C-reactive protein (CRP) is a key marker for this harmful inflammation, and statin use helps lower CRP levels.
A study published in 2007 reviewed the results of several clinical trials that involved angioplasty patients taking statins. It found that CRP levels were at least as helpful as “bad cholesterol” levels in predicting patients’ risk of recurrent heart events.
One of the more surprising effects of statin use has been its apparent bug-fighting properties. A 2004 Canadian study found that statins suppressed the attachment of the HIV virus to potential host cells.
A 2005 study of more than 700 hospital patients being treated for pneumonia found that the death rate was more than twice as high among those who were not using statins.
In 2006, a Canadian study examined the rate of sepsis, a deadly blood infection, among patients who had been hospitalized for heart events.
In the two years after their hospitalization, the statin users had a rate of sepsis 19% lower than that of the non-statin users.
A 2009 review of 22 studies found that statins appeared to have a beneficial effect on the outcome of infection, but they couldn’t come to a firm conclusion.