Thursday, November 01, 2007

Statins to help lung function in the elderly

I am really intrigue by the various medically validated used of statins. When I was in medical school, we learn of a group of HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, that were very effective in lowering serum cholesterol and LDL-Cholesterol. At that time, we only had Lovastatin (mevacor). After my postgraduate studies, we had zocor and pravachol. One day, I was invited to give a GP talk in Taiping, for which I did a lot of reading and learn that "statins " as a group had multiple pleotrophic effects, quite unrelated to its cholesterol lowering liver effects. I learned quickly that "statins" usefulness in cardiac events reduction was due to its anti-inflammatory properties. This effects are now well documented and understood.

Then we hear more and more reports of the usefulness of "statins" in heart failure, hypertension, dementia ,and even its role in arthritis. In the latest issue of the American Journal Respiratory Critical Care Medicine, Alexeff SE reported on the VA Normative Aging Study. This study, evaluated the effects of "statins" in the elderly with COAD and compromised respiratory function. They found that patients taking "statins" had a slower and lesser decline in respiratory function when compared to placebo and the reduction in decline was even more pronounced in those who had given up smoking recently. The heavier the smoking history and subsequent cessation, the more the benefit with statins. The reason may have to do with the anti-inflammatory effects of statins. How interesting.

As we all know, CAD and hyperlipidemia, affects the elderly and so this population is likely to receive statins. This is also the population group who is most likely to suffer from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). So given them statins to lower their LDL-C, will prevent heart disease and also arrest the decline of their lung function, and what else. This is indeed interesting. From cholesterol lowering, heart disease prevention and now to reduction in deterioration in lung function in the elderly.

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