Statins is a popular class of drugs commonly used to lower cholesterol levels. Over 1 billion people worldwide take statins daily to reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes. As we have seen previously, the effectiveness and safety of statins can be influenced by the status of your CYP3A4 and SLCO1B1 genes. But did you know that long-term statin use can also lower the effectiveness of the annual influenza vaccine?

In a new study, scientists applied post-hoc analyses on a large clinical trial and found that long-term statin use correlated with lowered effectiveness of influenza A and B vaccines by 38-67%.

Long-term statin use correlates with lowered effectiveness of influenza vaccines by 38-67%

This effect was significant even after scientists accounted for the influences of age, presence of other high-risk medical conditions (like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma), and the type of vaccines received.

If these results can be confirmed by other studies, drastic changes to vaccine use, especially for elderly individuals, may be introduced.

Drastic changes to vaccine use may be introduced

Not only is statin use very common among the elderly population, current public health influenza vaccination strategies also target the elderly because of their increased likelihood of developing influenza-related complications and morbidities.

However, if long-term statin use is conclusively found to negate the effectiveness of influenza vaccines, then the use of adjuvant vaccines or even high-dose vaccines may be considered for elderly individuals to improve the protective effects against influenza.

What does this mean for me?

The impact of statin use on immune response is likely very complex. In fact, several studies found that short-term statin use did not influence response to hepatitis A and toxoid vaccines. It is likely that any effects of statin on vaccine response are dependent on many factors, including duration of statin use and type of vaccine received.

Before scientists figure this one out, you can take control of your cardiovascular health. Check out our articles on the risk factors affecting heart disease and choosing the best blood pressure medication for you.

Statin alternative

This past summer, the US Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada approved a new treatment for high cholesterol called Repatha. Repatha removes the breaks that normally slow down the cholesterol removal process in your liver, thereby increasing the quantity of cholesterol cleared from your body.

To find out if Repatha is right for you, and before you start, stop, or change dosage of any medication, always consult with you doctor.

What’s next?

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