Statins added to pulmonary hypertension (PH) treatment do not provide any clinical benefit for a clear majority of patients — although this drug’s use in those whose PH is the result of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) show some “intriguing” points worthy of further study, researchers determined in a meta-analysis recently published in the journal PLOS One.
The study, “Statins Have No Additional Benefit for Pulmonary Hypertension: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials,” reviewed the results of five studies involving 425 PH patients, who were further divided into subgroups based on the underlying cause of their PH: COPD or non-COPD.
Statins are usually used to lower cholesterol levels, but they have also been reported to have cholesterol-independent effects that might be helpful to PH patients. Studies on animal models of PH, in fact, have suggested that statins can prevent or even reverse the disease. But results of those few studies conducted in PH patients have produced conflicting data.
Researchers conducted a meta-analysis to determine the efficacy of statin use, when added to standard therapy, in PH patients.
The study’s primary goal was the change in the six-minute walk distance (6MWD) test from baseline to 24 weeks, a measure of exercise capacity. Also reviewed were changes in systolic pulmonary arterial pressure (SPAP), Borg dyspnea score (a measure of difficulty breathing), and the risk of clinical worsening.
Results found no significant difference in the parameters assessed (6MWD, SPAP, Borg dyspnea score, or clinical worsening risk) between those patients receiving statins and those given only standard therapies who served as a control group.
An analysis of the COPD and non-COPD groups also showed that statin use made no different, suggesting it was an ineffective treatment.
The researchers noted, however, that in the subgroup of PH due to COPD, patients receiving statins exhibited a trend toward a lower SPAP (although this was not a statistically significant result). In another study, this particular population also showed an improvement in exercise capacity after statin treatment.
“The pooled analysis of 5 RCTs [randomized control trials] done in PH patients shows that statins have no additional beneficial effect on standard therapy for PH,” the researchers concluded, adding “but the results from a subgroup of PH due to COPD seem intriguing and further study with larger sample size and longer follow-up is suggested.”