Scientists have shown that a common medication could significantly lower the complications associated with bypass surgery, and report that it's seriously under-utilized.
Statins are well known as a safe and effective cholesterol drug, but a recent study suggests that they have other benefits as well. According to a report from the New York Times, the study found that taking statins before and after coronary artery bypass surgery significantly reduced the risk of complications or death.
Often, doctors recommend that people on statins discontinue their use before undergoing heart bypass surgery. The recent study, published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, reviewed 21 separate studies that showed a trend suggesting that statin use was not only safe, but beneficial before and after bypass surgery.
Statins were shown in certain studies to lower the chances of irregular heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation. They were also shown to reduce the odds of a stroke or heart attack, as well as prevent kidney injuries following the operation.
According to Dr. Islam Y. Elgendy, a fellow from the University of Florida College of Medicine, “It’s important to be on a statin if you have coronary artery disease, and to continue with the medicine before and after surgery. The results of this review call for active efforts to counsel patients and surgeons about the benefits of statins that definitely outweigh the risks of their rare potential side effects.”
More research will certainly be necessary to determine how much of an impact statins have on bypass surgery patients, as the study was simply a literature review. The findings, however, suggest that statins do not interfere with the recovery process following a bypass surgery, and may even help control inflammation, particularly in patients under prolonged anesthesia.
A press release from Elsevier Health Sciences describing the details of the study can be found here.