The 3-hydroxy 3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (ie, statins) are widely used for the treatment of patients with hypercholesterolemia and cardiovascular disease. Emerging evidence suggests a beneficial effect of statins on the morbidity and mortality of patients with COPD. The objective of this study was to perform a systematic review of the literature evaluating the effect of statin therapy on outcomes in patients with COPD.
Medline, Excerpta Medica Database, PapersFirst, and the Cochrane collaboration and Cochrane Register of controlled trials were searched. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs), observational cohort studies, case-control studies, and population-based analyses were considered for inclusion.
Nine studies were identified for review (four retrospective cohorts, one nested case-control study of a retrospective cohort, one retrospective cohort and case series, two population-based analyses, and one RCT). All studies showed a benefit from statin therapy for various outcomes in COPD patients, including the number of COPD exacerbations (n = 3), the number of and time to COPD-related intubations (n = 1), pulmonary function (eg, FEV1 and FVC) [n = 1], exercise capacity (n = 1), mortality from COPD (n = 2), and all-cause mortality (n = 3). No studies describing a negative or neutral effect from statin therapy on outcomes in COPD patients were identified.
The current literature collectively suggests that statins may have a beneficial role in the treatment of COPD. However, the majority of published studies have inherent methodological limitations of retrospective studies and population-based analyses. There is a need for prospective interventional trials designed specifically to assess the impact of statins on clinically relevant outcomes in COPD.