Surgeons find that statin drugs lower costs in aortic aneurysm repair


Patients taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may have better results and lower procedure costs when having a common operation for repairing a bulging aorta, according to a new study presented at the 95th annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.

“We think that anyone with a diagnosis of abdominal aortic aneurysm would significantly benefit from being on a statin before the operation,” reported Michael Morgan McNally, study coauthor from the East Carolina Heart Insitute of the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University in Greenville, USA.

McNally and his colleagues investigated 401 cases of abdominal aortic aneurysm repair surgery at their institution. Regardless of what type of procedure patients had – whether open repair or the endovascular approach – statin users typically had fewer complications and a lower chance of postoperative death. This result held true even though the statin users had more concurrent health problems than the control subjects did.

None of the statin patients in the study died after the aneurysm repair procedure, whereas 5% of those not taking statins died after the operation. “The study findings point to the powerful risk reduction ascribed to statins and highlights the importance of giving these drugs to patients undergoing cardiovascular procedures,” McNally said. “These patients should get on statin therapy as early as possible, but our study saw a significant benefit even after only 30 days on a statin,” he said.

The investigators also determined that the total costs for aneurysm repair was lower for statin patients, again regardless of what procedure they underwent. The endovascular approach cost on average US$33,237 per patient on statin drugs versus US$36,442 in control patients; the open approach cost US$18,647 per statin patient compared with US$22,440 in the control group. “The study focuses on the financial impact of this approach and the importance of this for the health care system,” McNally said.

“The bottom line is that risk optimisation in the workup of any patient having abdominal aortic aneurysm repair is imperative,” McNally added. “The workup would include looking at their medications and what they have been on preoperatively.”

The next step is for the researchers to examine the individual clinical outcomes behind the cost savings, and to investigate the potentially protective properties of other commonly prescribed cardiovascular medications, including beta blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Furthermore, these data demonstrate the importance of examining the role of preoperative risk optimisation in registries, databases, and future prospective studies, said McNally.

In addition to McNally, Steven C Agle, Samuel A Hayes, Frank M Parker, William M Bogey, Charles S Powell, and Michael C Stoner, participated in the study.