Statins halve deaths among COPD patients

Statin treatment can almost halve the death rate among COPD patients, Norwegian research has shown.

It is likely that undiagnosed ischaemic heart disease (IHD) in COPD patients is improved by statin use, explaining a higher survival rate after COPD exacerbation, say the researchers.

The findings have prompted calls for GPs to screen COPD patients for signs of IHD.

The study monitored 854 patients, with an average age of 70 years, for three years following a COPD exacerbation.

It found that COPD patients being treated with statins had a 43 per cent lower mortality rate after COPD exacerbation than patients not on statin treatment.

Chairman of the General Practice Airways Group (GPIAG) and Somerset GP Dr Steve Holmes said that the study results warranted further research because over 70 per cent of patients with established COPD had co-existing CHD.

‘The results are, however, not sufficient to recommend the routine use of statins post hospital discharge,' he said.

Professor David Price, professor of respiratory medicine at Aberdeen University and a member of GPIAG, said that the findings called for GPs to check for IHD in COPD patients.

Surrey GP Dr John Pittard, a member of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society, said: ‘There is a massive association between smoking and COPD, so it would seem to fit that COPD patients have underlying IHD. The majority of really bad cases of COPD are found among smokers.'

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