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Statins cut risk of infection that causes sepsis

Taking statins may cut the risk of developing an infection that causes deadly sepsis by almost a third. 

A study has found long-term users of the drug, commonly used to prevent heart disease, had a 30 percent lower chance of developing Staphylococcus aureus.

Staph bacteria can cause serious infections of the blood (sepsis), lungs and heart.

There are some strains that are now a public health threat since they became antibiotic resistant, including MRSA.

Now experts say the low-cost drug could be the latest weapon to control the rise of such superbugs.

Research shows statins can reduce staph infections which can cause serious infections of the blood (sepsis), lungs and heart (stock photo)


This germ lives on the skin and in the nose of many healthy people, and most will never be affected by it.  

But for some – especially those with open sores or cuts, compromised immune systems, or who have recently had surgery – staph bacteria can cause health problems.

This ranges from a mild skin rash to  boils, cellulitis, and impetigo and potentially life-threatening blood poisoning.

There are many types of Staphylococci, but most infections are caused by a group called Staphylococcus aureus. 

This group of bacteria includes meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is resistant to certain antibiotics that are commonly used for staph infections, such as flucloxacillin.  

Staph bacteria lives on the skin of most people, such as inside the nose.

It’s usually harmless but it can cause an infection if it gets deeper into the body, especially in patients with compromised immune systems or who are recovering from surgery. 

It can be spread through skin-to-skin contact and cause toxic shock syndrome, cellulitis and pneumonia.

Key findings

The medical records of almost 30,000 Danish statin users were analysed over a period of 12 years starting from January 1, 2000.

Statin users were grouped under ‘current users’ – who were then broken down further into ‘new’ or ‘long-term’ use – ‘former users,’ and ‘non-users.’

Patients were classified as long-term users of they took the drug for more than 90 days.

Participants had been prescribed statins for various chronic conditions, including diabetes, kidney disease, and liver disease.

During the follow-up period, the researchers found 2,638 cases of S. aureus bacteremia. These people were compared with 26,379 controls who did not develop the infection. 

Current statin users were 27 per cent less likely to have a community-acquired staph infection, and long-term users had a 30 percent lower risk.

Furthermore, the study found this was dose-respondent, meaning that the more statins the users were taking, the less likely they were to acquire the infection. 

Lead researcher, Dr Jesper Smit from the Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark, said: ‘Our results indicate that statins may have an important place in the prevention of bloodstream infection caused by S. aureus, which would hold important clinical and public health implications.’

The researchers note that further research is needed to confirm their findings which was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 


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