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.

Continue Learning about Heart Surgeries

Heart Surgeries

Heart Surgeries

More than a half million surgeries are done each year to correct heart problems in children and adults. One of the most common types of heart surgery performed is coronary artery bypass grafting, which uses a blood vessel taken fr...

om another part of the body to bypass a blocked artery and help prevent a heart attack. Another is heart valve replacement, used to repair heart valves that don't open and close properly. Heart surgery can be minimally invasive, such as when a small incision is made to the chest to insert a pacemaker. At the other extreme is open-heart surgery, which requires a large incision to the chest to open the rib cage and operate on the heart. Learn more about the different kinds of heart surgeries with expert advice from Sharecare.

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.