When statins were first introduced, they were heralded as miracle drugs that would save millions of lives. Now, these medications that lower cholesterol are in many of our medicine chests and they do seem to be effective for their intended purpose although with some occasional side effects. But what else could statins do for us?
A new study suggests that certain statins may also reduce the severity of the flu and even prevent flu deaths. The study, published in the Journal of Infectious Disease, looked at 3,000 people hospitalized with the flu. About a third were taking statins either before or during the time they were in the hospital. Five percent of those studied died of the flu within a month of their diagnosis but people taking statins were 41 percent less likely to die than those who weren't taking them.
Other studies have found that statins were associated with a decreased risk of pneumonia and hospitalizations in people who had the flu.
This doesn't mean if you are on a statin, you can forgo a flu vaccination. The research is still preliminary and will have to be borne out by larger clinical trials. It's possible that people who take statins are generally more health conscious and that explains why they do better.
In the meantime, the flu shot is still your best weapon against the flu.