In a new study, researchers found statins could be used to treat older patients admitted to hospital with a severe type of pneumonia.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Birmingham.
Pneumonia infection can happen to anyone, but older people are at greater risk of contracting both pneumonia and sepsis at the same time.
Common symptoms include breathlessness, a productive cough, fever and loss of appetite.
Community-acquired pneumonia with sepsis can be fatal, especially if left untreated for a long period.
Community-acquired pneumonia is one of the most common causes of avoidable hospital admission during the winter months.
Figures from NHS England show that acute admissions for pneumonia have risen by 35 percent since 2013.
In the study, the team aimed to determine if giving a high dose of a statin called simvastatin over a short period would improve immune system function for older adults who had been hospitalized with community acquired pneumonia with sepsis.
They tested 62 patients, aged over 55, who were admitted with community acquired pneumonia with sepsis to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham between November 2013 and January 2016.
The patients were then followed up one year after treatment.
They received either a placebo or a daily 80mg dose of simvastatin for a period of seven days as well as antibiotics and intravenous fluids used to treat pneumonia.
The researchers found that the patients who were given statin simvastatin had an increase in the activity of white blood cells, which help the body to recover from pneumonia.
The finding showed that in the patients who were treated with statins, their white cells function improved.
To assess if statins could also protect the body from organ failure, the researchers tracked the patient’s organ function using the sequential organ failure assessment (SOFA) score.
They found that patients who were given simvastatin were at lower risk of organ failure.
Moreover, at follow-up one year later, the results also showed that those in the placebo group had a higher rate of mortality and were re-admitted to hospital more frequently than those taking the statin tablets.
The team hopes the findings could be a game-changer in terms of treating older people with community acquired pneumonia with sepsis.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Liz Sapey, a Reader in Respiratory Medicine.
The study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
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