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What's the effect of taking statins before heart surgery?

Patients on statins should not stop taking the cholesterol-lowering medication before heart surgery -- even on the day of surgery. Research shows that continuation of statins may significantly improve survival following the operation.

“Patients frequently forget to take their pills on the day of surgery, or they’ve been told to stop certain medications,” said Wei Pan, MD, a cardiovascular anesthesiologist at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. “This study shows that not taking your statin for even one day before cardiac surgery may increase your risk for death after surgery."

Doctors sometimes advise patients to stop taking statins -- a class of drugs used to manage cholesterol levels and prevent/treat heart disease -- before heart surgery because of the potential for adverse health effects. However, research has shown that statin use before surgery is well tolerated and that the benefits often outweigh any potential negative side effects. Researchers suspect that the anti-inflammatory properties of statins that help promote blood flow may counteract some of the inflammatory reactions to prolonged anesthesia exposure during surgery.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.