Statins are now showing promise at preventing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), an affliction that occurs in nearly two million Americans each year, according to new research presented at CHEST 2008, the 74th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP).
The researchers said that the use of statins may be associated with a significant reduction in the occurrence of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in patients with solid organ tumors, including breast, lung and colon cancers.
“We hope that our research alerts the scientific community to the potential of statins in reducing VTE,” said study author Danai Khemasuwan, MD, from the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.
Khemasuwan and colleagues reviewed 740 consecutive patients admitted to the hospital between October 2004 and September 2007 with a diagnosis of breast, lung, colon, prostate, stomach, esophagus, pancreas, ovary, kidney or brain cancer. They recorded the occurrence of VTE, risk factors for VTE and use of statins. They allocated patients who either used statins for less than two months or who never used statins to the control group.
The mean age of the study population was 65 years; 52 percent of subjects were women and 76 percent were African-American, according to the researchers.
The authors said that 26 percent of patients received statins and the overall incidence of VTE was 18 percent. The analysis showed that patients receiving statins were significantly less likely to develop VTE than the control group, with 8 percent of patients receiving statins developing VTE compared with 21 percent in the control group.
The investigators also reported that a logistical regression analysis yielded the same results irrespective of smoking, documented metastatic disease, current use of chemotherapy, immobilization and use of aspirin.
Although the authors said they could not draw conclusions about the cause and effect relationship between statins and VTE, Khemasuwan said the data are promising. "If the results of our study are confirmed in a prospective randomized, controlled trial, this could have very significant implications for the medical community,” he said.
“Recent studies have examined the use of statins for the prevention of lung disease, stroke, and other neurologic disorders,” said James A. L. Mathers, Jr., MD, president of the ACCP. “The results of this study are promising and suggest a potential role for statins in the prevention of thromboembolism.”