Statins provide beneficial effects, including decreased death risk, in a large and well-defined cohort of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), according to an analysis of past studies.
Findings were reported in the article “Effect of statins on disease-related outcomes in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis,” recently published in the journal Thorax.
IPF is associated with significant cardiovascular comorbidities (co-existing conditions), with patients requiring drugs to treat associated cardiovascular risk factors. Included in the therapies are the ‘statin’ class of drugs because of their cholesterol-lowering effects and associated risk reduction of cardiovascular mortality.
The benefits of statins are potentially wider, with some studies suggesting that they can reduce the potential for decline in pulmonary function associated with normal aging. But the relationship between statins and the development of interstitial lung disease (ILD) continued to be controversial because studies had reported both detrimental and beneficial actions on IPF progression.
The recent research study investigated if statins indeed have an effect on disease-related outcomes in patients with IPF.
The team performed a post hoc analysis of IPF patients who had participated in three controlled clinical trials assessing Esbriet (pirfenidone), an antifibrotic drug approved for the treatment of IPF. The past studies included the CAPACITY trials (NCT00287729 and NCT00287716), and the ASCEND trial (NCT01366209). Patients were categorized according to their baseline statin use.
Researchers analyzed disease outcomes after one year of follow-up, including disease progression, mortality, hospitalization, lung function decline, and decline in exercise capacity (per the 6-minute walk distance test — 6MWD).
In the analysis, 276 (44%) patients were statin users and 348 (56%) did not use statins. Both groups showed similar characteristics at baseline; however, statin users were older and had higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease and risk factors.
Researchers found a significant trend among statin users: they had a lower risk of death or 6MWD decline accompanied by lower all-cause hospitalizations, respiratory-related hospitalizations, and IPF-related deaths when compared to non-users.
The study concluded that statins are beneficial for patients with IPF, but future studies are required to further assess statin use benefits and the potential use of statins in combination with antifibrotic therapies.