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Statins Could Lower Risk of Deadly Staph Infections

Statins found to prevent Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infection.
Published Online: Oct 11,2017
Laurie Toich, Assistant Editor
Statins are known to provide patients with numerous cardiovascular benefits and reduce related mortality among patients with cardiovascular disease. Findings from a new study published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggest that the drugs may also prevent a significant number of bloodstream infections with Staphylococcus aureus.

While S. aureus is a natural bacterium in the body, it can also cause infections, including serious infections of the bloodstream and heart. Once S. aureus infects the blood, it can be deadly.

However, these new findings suggest that statins cut the risk of bloodstream infection with S. aureus by nearly one-third, according to the study authors.

Included in the study were medical records of nearly 30,000 patients using statins between January 2000 and December 2011.

Patients were classified as current statin users (short-term or long-term), former users, and non-users. Patients were long-term users of statins if they had received multiple prescriptions for the drug for more than the past 90 days, while newer users received a prescription within the 90 days before baseline.

During the study period, the authors discovered 2638 cases of S. aureus bloodstream infections. These individuals were matched with 26,379 patients who did not develop the infection.

The investigators found that current statin users were 27% less likely to develop a community-acquired S. aureus infection, while long-term users were 30% less likely to develop the infection, according to the study.

"Our results indicate that statins may have an important place in the prevention of bloodstream infection caused by S. aureus, which would hold important clinical and public health implications,” the authors wrote.

Interestingly, the authors noted that their findings were dose-dependent—patients taking higher doses of statins were less likely to acquire an S. aureus infection.

These results highlight the significant benefits of statins, which have been explored as a treatment for cancer, liver disease, and a preventive therapy for premature births.  

Despite these findings, the authors caution that additional studies are needed before statins can be recommended for patients at risk of a bloodstream infection.

"Our observations warrant confirmation in other settings and the biological mechanisms by which statin treatment may protect against this type of infection should be explored further,” the authors concluded.