It is good news for diabetics and people suffering from heart ailments.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs — statins— prescribed to these patients, can also protect them from pneumonia, sepsis and other infections.
A study published in last week’s issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine said people on statin therapy displayed 43 to 45 per cent less risk of developing infections.
Statins, or blood thinners in common parlance, are drugs that lower cholesterol levels in diabetics and people with or at
risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Researchers from Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, University of Leicester, King Fahd Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and the university of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, carried out the study to examine whether statin use reduced infection-related complications.
Researchers studied several electronic databases till December 2007 for randomised trials and cohort studies. Following the results, they called for more trials. Sixteen studies were used to arrive at a conclusion.
“Owing to their anti-inflammatory properties, a lot of studies are looking at the use of statins in prevention and treatment of infections,” said Dr Randeep Gularia, Professor of medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Delhi. “It is beneficial for those on therapy. But we would need further studies for routine prescription.”
The statin market in India is estimated at more than Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion).
Cardiologist K Srinath Reddy, chairman of the Delhi-based Public Health Foundation, also said the study needed more trials. “It should be regarded only as hypothesis-generating, as none of studies were designed to study to effect of statins on infections. We need a large study designed specifically to examine this benefit.’’
Others, however, have welcomed it. “Most people with heart disease are diabetic.’’ said Dr Anoop Misra, head, Department of Diabetes, Fortis Hospitals, Delhi. “The medicines are shown to be preventing and treating infections that can lead to hospitalisation and can even prove fatal.”
By 2030, the World Health Organisation said the prevalence of diabetes in India could increase from 31.7 million in 2000 to 79.4 million.
Around 3 per cent of the rural population and 7 per cent of the country’s urban population suffers from heart disease.
With 100 million people affected by cardiac ailments, India is set to become the heart disease capital of the world by 2010.