October 29, 2009
Statin Drugs Cut H1N1 Deaths

You can cut your risk of death from swine flu H1N1 with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

Overall, 2.1 percent of patients taking statins died, compared to 3.2 percent of patients not taking statins. That means patients taking statins were just under 50 percent less likely to die.

But how quickly do the statins exercise protective effects? Few people will start taking statins before they get the flu in order to cut an already pretty low risk of dying from H1N1.

Update: Someone points out that the real reduction in the risk of dying is 35%. But the 50% figure would be (almost) correct if one used the lower rate as the reference point. The people not taking statins are 47.6% more likely to die.

Another commenter recommends vitamin D. Vitamin D does reduce respiratory infections in children and other lines of evidence point toward an anti-influenza effect from vitamin D. Knowing all this I decided some weeks ago to become more consistent about taking 2000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 October 29 11:37 PM  Pandemic Prepare Drugs

Tom bri said at October 30, 2009 4:19 AM:

One good question, did taking statin drugs have any influence on whether one caught flu or not? It is generally accepted that high cholesterol has a protective effect against infectious diseases, though I don't know if that includes viral diseases.

coldequation said at October 30, 2009 6:23 AM:

"A few other studies also have suggested that statins may help flu patients by lowering inflammation."

There are other ways to lower inflammation that cost less and have fewer side effects than statins. But statin research gets the funding because pharma has patents on them, not fish oil.

Thras said at October 30, 2009 6:30 AM:

Looks like a fairly worthless data point. They selected from hospitalized patients and looked at who were taking statins and who weren't. Any sort of difference between the two populations (like income, or willingness to go in and see a doctor before you get really sick) could have caused the effect. They did try to control for patients being on ventilators who couldn't take statins, etc. But it's hopeless.

Mirco said at October 30, 2009 10:00 AM:

Statins rise Vitamin D levels. Higher Vit. D levels protect from infections.


How do statins work? They dramatically raise vitamin D levels

Several studies have shown that statins raise 25(OH)D levels but last month this study showed that Crestor nearly tripled Vitamin D levels, from 14 to 36 ng/mL, in just 8 weeks. I loved what the author concluded, "We have no idea of the mechanism involved." Nor do I, as statins should lower, not increase, vitamin D levels because statins reduce Vitamin D's precursor, cholesterol. As Dr. Yavuz said, "This is clearly an opportunity for further research."

These results are simply amazing, from 14 to 36 ng/mL in 8 weeks and the study was conducted in the winter, when levels should fall, not rise. Just think, if the pleiotropic (many effects) statin drugs work by simply raising Vitamin D levels (and statins' pleitropic effects are certainly not mediated through lowering cholesterol levels), then that is one expensive way to raise Vitamin D levels. However, it is the perfect commentary on the American health care system; that is, in America we use statins to treat Vitamin D deficiency, not Vitamin D.


ScottA said at October 30, 2009 11:51 AM:

Studies have also shown that the elderly (who are more likely to take statins) have a lower death rate to H1N1. Possibly due to residual immunity to a prior H1N1-variant.

jaed said at October 30, 2009 12:22 PM:

But how quickly do the statins exercise protective effects?

Have you ever considered trying out for the Olympics, in the broad-jump event? ;-) Seriously, that's quite a leap from "A correlation between statin use and lower death rate was seen for patients hospitalized for H1N1 infection" to "Statins protect against flu". Any support for it?

John Q Liberty said at October 30, 2009 12:59 PM:

Quick math lesson:

Those NOT taking statins were 50% MORE likely to die.
Those taking statins were 33% less likely to die.

Fred said at October 30, 2009 1:05 PM:

'Pretty low risk of dying from Swine flu'? You wouldn't know it from the hyped up media and the White House.
'Pandemic', 'more than needed vaccines', 3 shots needed!, then 2, then 1 needed, vaccine 'shortages', deaths', National Emergency.
So many had it, they said don't bother to count. Now suddenly they have statistics, that's not possible. Every time one person died, it ran over and over like hundreds had died.

From a mild flu.

Then a National Emergency declared!!!
News media repeatedly touting shortages, showing people waiting in line for shots for blocks, in the rain!
Only now are they admitting it's a mild flu.

So why all the hysteria? And Billions taken from us again, when pandemic measures had already been established, years ago.
Fake DOW numbers, Fake swine flu numbers.
And they wonder why we have no confidence.

Follow the money!
Follow the power grab.
Always is a constant state of upset with this Administration. But if not, how do you 'not let a crisis go to waste'?

David in Cal said at October 30, 2009 1:06 PM:

Reuters is quoted: "Overall, 2.1 percent of patients taking statins died, compared to 3.2 percent of patients not taking statins. That means patients taking statins were just under 50 percent less likely to die."

That looks like a mistake. The two numbers shown would mean that patients taking statins were 34% less likely to die [.34 = (3.2-2.1)/3.2]
It seems likely that the "just under 50%" may have come from using the wrong denominator, since 1.1/2.1 is just under 50%.

Not having read the original study I can't be sure whether the "just under 50%" is justified in some other way. However, it isn't justified by the figures in the news report.

Erikmd67 said at October 30, 2009 1:23 PM:

Interesting data, but at this point only that, interesting. Nice for me that I take a stain already. I don't believe that statins substantailly increase 25(OH) Vit D levels. I am an endocrinologist and see diabetics (almost all on statins) daily. Vitamin D deficiency is pretty much ubiquitous in my patients. Even those on statins run in the 10-24 range in the absence of Vit D supplemenation.
Statins are fine for LDL, but for Vit D deficiency go for the over the counter Vit D3; 2,000 IU daily is safe long term (and probably necessary), but usually even more is needed initially to restore liver stores. Get your level to the 50-80 range.

John Thacker said at October 30, 2009 2:16 PM:
But statin research gets the funding because pharma has patents on them, not fish oil.

Most of the popular statins are generic. I pay $12 retail for a thirty day supply of simvastatin. Online fish oil hawkers boast that their 30 days supplies of fish oil are only $35.

Who's greedy again?

Dr. MHL said at October 30, 2009 2:16 PM:

The Jupiter Study showed that statins(Crestor)could significantly reduce cardio and cerebro-vascular events in individuals WITHOUT elevated lipid levels. It is suggested that statins have a positive effect of reducing inflammation at the vascular endothelial level thereby lowering the incidence of rupture of atheromatous plaque which causes stroke or myocardial infarction.The marker for endothelial inflammation is the simple and cheap HS-CRP (high sensitivity C-reactive protein) blood test.
Perhaps statins acting on the pulmonary vascular endothelium reduce inflammation which can lead to H1N1 viral pneumonia which can be catastrophic and notoriously difficult to teat successfully.

The Healthy Librarian said at October 30, 2009 2:43 PM:

Just get the darn flu shot! Got my H1N1 on Wednesday.

Good news if you're over fifty. There's a good chance you already some immunity to H1N1.

"People born before 1957 may be less susceptible than younger people to the H1N1 swine flu.

CDC researchers have detected antibodies in the blood of older people that neutralize the new flu bug now sweeping the nation, Daniel Jernigan, MD, MPH, deputy director of the CDC's flu division."

Read the rest of the story--and other ways to keep those flu bugs away.

"NPR's Amazing Animated Story of a Sneeze and How To Fight Off Viral Invaders Like a Ninja"


DWPittelli said at October 30, 2009 4:24 PM:

No, it's 35% less likely to die. "Just under 50% less likely to die" is not, IMHO, a reasonable shorthand for that.

WEL said at November 26, 2010 12:37 PM:


I had eye surgery and in the post-op pack was MAXIDEX(dexamethasone) drops by ALCON LABS.

Two day later I was BLIND

Use Google and enter EPOCRATES MAXIDEX REACTION to verify

Or call 800-757-9195

DEATH COUNT is on ehealthme.com now stands at 940+ compare to PRED FORTE's 7 deaths

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