Statins possess pleiotropic effects, which potentially benefit noncardiovascular conditions. Previous work suggests that statins reduce inflammation and prevent acute respiratory distress syndrome and infections. However, there is a paucity of data regarding potential benefits of statins on respiratory and infectious complications, particularly after noncardiac surgery. We therefore evaluated respiratory and other complications in noncardiac surgery patients taking or not taking statins preoperatively.
We obtained data from the Cleveland Clinic Perioperative Health Documentation System and evaluated medical records of 92,139 inpatients who had noncardiac surgery. Among these, 31,719 patients took statins preoperatively. Statin patients were compared to nonstatin patients on incidence of intraoperative use of albuterol and postoperative respiratory complications for primary analysis. Infectious complications, cardiovascular complications, in-hospital mortality, and duration of hospitalization were compared for secondary analyses, using inverse probability of treatment weighting to control for potential confounding.
Statin use was associated with lower odds of intraoperative albuterol treatment (odds ratio [OR] = 0.89; 97.5% confidence interval [CI], 0.82–0.97; P = .001; number needed to treat [NNT] = 216). Postoperative respiratory complications were also less common (OR = 0.82; 98.75% CI, 0.78–0.87; P < .001). Secondarily, statin use was associated with lower odds of infections, cardiovascular complications, in-hospital mortality, and shorter duration of hospitalization. The interaction between statin use and sex was significant (with significance criteria P < .10) for all primary and secondary outcomes except intraoperative use of albuterol.
Preoperative statin use in noncardiac surgical patients was associated with slightly reduced odds of postoperative respiratory, infectious, and cardiovascular complications. However, the NNTs were high. Thus, despite the fact that statins appeared to be associated with lower odds of various complications, especially cardiovascular complications, our results do not support using statins specifically to reduce noncardiovascular complications after noncardiac surgery.