Washington, July 24 : New research from the Medical University of Vienna suggests that treatment with cholesterol-lowering "statin" drugs may lead to longer survival among kidney transplant recipients.
"Statin therapy is well established for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease in the general population, but its effectiveness in patients with kidney disease is unclear. We showed that statin therapy was indeed associated with a lower risk of death in renal transplant recipients," says Dr. Rainer Oberbauer, one of the authors of the study.
Reported in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), the study included data on 2,041 patients receiving their first kidney transplant between 1990 and 2003.
About 15 percent of the patients were said to be taking statin drugs to reduce their cholesterol levels at the time of transplantation.
Patient survival and survival of the transplanted kidney were compared for patients who were and were not taking statins.
Overall, survival was somewhat better for patients on statin treatment.
The researchers have revealed that at 12 years' follow-up, 73 percent of statin-treated patients were alive as compared to 64 percent of those who did not take the drugs.
Statin treatment had no effect on survival of the transplanted kidney (graft survival), for 70 percent of the transplanted kidneys were functioning after 12 years in both groups.
Dr. Oberbauer, however, said that it was yet unclear whether cholesterol-lowering statin treatment could reduce cardiovascular risks in patients with kidney disease.
"We now show that statin use in renal transplant recipients is associated with longer survival," said Dr. Oberbauer.
He, however, added: "The proof that statin use prolongs life can only be accomplished in a randomized controlled trial."