(HealthDay News) — Taking statins right before cardiac surgery, once touted as a way to prevent common postoperative complications, has no benefit and may even cause harm, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Barbara Casadei, MD, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues randomly assigned 1,922 patients who were having elective cardiac surgery to take rosuvastatin or placebo before surgery.

The researchers found that patients given rosuvastatin had lower levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and C-reactive protein after surgery, compared with patients given a placebo. However, the percentages of those who developed atrial fibrillation were essentially the same in patients given rosuvastatin (21.1%) and those given a placebo (20.5%). Further analyses showed that rosuvastatin was associated with a 5.4% greater chance of acute kidney injury, when compared with a placebo.

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“The risk of kidney injury is relatively small, but considering that the benefit of statin treatment before a heart operation is zero, one may well consider stopping statins for a few days before surgery,” Casadei told HealthDay.

The study was funded in part by AstraZeneca, the manufacturer of rosuvastatin.


  1. Zheng Z, Jayaram R, Jiang L, et al. Perioperative Rosuvastatin in Cardiac Surgery. N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1744-1753. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1507750.