Study Links Regular Statin Use With Reduced Mortality in Patients With Alcoholic Cirrhosis

Alison Rodriguez

There may be an association between the regular use of statins and reduced mortality in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis—a chronic liver disease often caused by alcohol consumption.
 
In a study recently published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, researchers collected data from the Danish National Patient Registry, the Danish National Prescription Registry, the Danish Register of Causes of Death, and the Danish Civil Registration system in order to identify those with the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10) code for alcoholic cirrhosis, their medications, and their cause for death. For the study, the primary endpoint was death while the secondary endpoint was decompensation.
 
“Evidence suggests that … statins have ameliorating effects on the inflammatory processes in cirrhosis,” the authors wrote. “Studies from the laboratory demonstrated that statins inhibit proliferation of hepatic stellate cells and improve sinusoidal endothelial dysfunction in rats. Robust evidence of a beneficial effect of statins in patients with cirrhosis comes from 2 randomized interventional studies that have shown a significant decrease in hepatic venous pressure gradient.”
 
Of the total of 5417 eligible patients with alcoholic cirrhosis, 744 were in the matched cohort. The average age was 56 years old and 36% were females. In the unmatched cohort, 15% were found to have redeemed statins at least twice within a minimum of 30 days between the first and last claim. Additionally, in the unmatched cohort, the mortality rate was 96 per 1000 person-years for patients in statin therapy and 121 for non-statin patients. The rate of decompensation was found to be 135 (114-160) among patients in treatment with statins and 361 (348-375) for those who did not use statins.
 
“We conclude that the use of statins was associated with a reduced risk of decompensation and death in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis and the association between use of statins and death was more pronounced in patients with cirrhosis compared with noncirrhotic controls,” the authors concluded.
 
The researchers noted the limitations to their study as medical history and biochemical data was not considered at the baseline. This is important because previous treatments with statins have less severe cirrhosis and may contribute to the association that was found, according the study. The researchers also suggested the need for verification of their results through clinical trials before statins can be recommended for patients with alcoholic cirrhosis.
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