(RxWiki News) Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs taken pre-operatively appear to be key to reducing complications and shortening a patient's hospital stay following heart surgery.
Patients who receive statins before the procedure are less likely to develop post-operative atrial fibrillation, a common heart arrhythmia, and are more likely to head home from the hospital sooner.
They also are more likely to spend slightly less time in the hospital's intensive care unit.
"Never skip prescribed doses of statins."
Oliver J. Liakopoulos, MD, a lead researcher in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the University of Cologne's Heart Centre in Germany, found that statins could offer cardiac patients benefits not received by patients who did not receive the drugs prior to their operation.
During the review study researchers analyzed 11 randomized controlled studies that included 984 patients that underwent various types of heart operations, including bypass surgery.
As compared to heart surgery patients that did not take statins, those that took statins before their cardiac procedure tended to leave ICU three and a half hours earlier on average, and to be discharged from the hospital about 12 hours sooner. In addition, fewer patients that took statins experienced atrial fibrillation, a known complication following cardiac surgery.
Statin treatment was found to have no influence on stroke, heart attack, kidney failure or risk of dying.
A limitation of the study was that the majority of patients included underwent cardiac bypass surgery, and the findings may not apply to individuals receiving other heart operations such as a valve repair. In addition, most patients were men in their 60s, and some findings may not apply to all patient populations.
Researchers said additional clinical studies would be needed to get a clearer picture of the potential benefits of statins prior to heart surgery.
The study was recently published in journal The Cochrane Library.