The Benefits of Taking Statins

Cholesterol-lowering statins such as Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) are among the most widely prescribed drugs on the market today. Their purpose is to lower blood cholesterol by reducing the amount of cholesterol produced by the liver, but they have several other effects. With regular use, they can not only lower "bad cholesterol" (LDL) but also triglyceride levels. They can boost your "good cholesterol" levels (HDL), too.

Research has shown that the salutary effect of statins on cholesterol may not be their only benefit. Statin therapy has shown promise for everything from fighting viral infections to protecting the eye from cataracts.

Tim Boyle / Staff / Getty Images

Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Statins

Like cholesterol, inflammation of the coronary arteries is one of the several factors that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. C-reactive protein (CRP) is a key marker for this harmful inflammation, and statin use helps lower CRP levels.

A study published in 2007 reviewed the results of several clinical trials that involved angioplasty patients taking statins. It found that CRP levels were at least as helpful as "bad cholesterol" levels in predicting patients' risk of recurrent heart events.

Antiviral and Antibacterial Effects 

One of the more surprising effects of statin use has been its apparent bug-fighting properties. A 2004 Canadian study found that statins suppressed the attachment of the HIV virus to potential host cells.

A 2005 study of more than 700 hospital patients being treated for pneumonia found that the death rate was more than twice as high among those who were not using statins.

In 2006, a Canadian study examined the rate of sepsis, a deadly blood infection, among patients who had been hospitalized for heart events. In the two years after their hospitalization, the statin users had a rate of sepsis 19% lower than that of the non-statin users.

A 2009 review of 22 studies found that statins appeared to have a beneficial effect on the outcome of infection, but they couldn't come to a firm conclusion.

Statins May Lower Blood Pressure Slightly

Statin use also appears to decrease blood pressure, although just modestly, which is not significant enough to rival existing blood pressure medications.

A British study in 2007 reported that among statin users, readings were reduced by an average of 1.9 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 0.9 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. These units of measurement for blood pressures are represented by the "first" or "top number" indicating the systolic reading and the "second" or "bottom" number indicating the diastolic reading. In patients whose blood pressure started very high, statins appeared to produce a 4.0 mmHg drop in systolic pressure.

Lessening Atrial Fibrillation After Heart Surgery

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an irregular heartbeat that commonly occurs after heart surgery. This can lead to longer hospital stays or even strokes or heart failure. In a 2006 study, patients who were given a week-long course of statins before surgery had a 61% lower risk of AF.

Alzheimer's Disease Protection by Statins Disproved

Some evidence indicates that statin therapy could inhibit the progression of Alzheimer's disease. In a 2007 study. A study published a year later, however, followed living patients over 12 years, found no significant difference in Alzheimer's rates between those who took statins and those who didn't. A 2014 review of four studies, including two large randomized controlled trials, found no evidence that statins helped with cognitive decline in dementia.

Are Statins Right For You?

If you have high cholesterol, your healthcare provider may prescribe you a statin drug. Still, statins may not be appropriate for everyone, so talk with a practitioner about whether or not they are suitable in your case, why, and what your other treatment options might be.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Hung TH, Tsai CC, Lee HF. Statin use in cirrhotic patients with infectious diseases: A population-based study. PLoS ONE. 2019;14(4):e0215839. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0215839

  2. Lamarche F, Agharazii M, Nadeau-fredette AC, Madore F, Goupil R. Central and brachial blood pressures, statins, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol: A mediation analysis. Hypertension. 2018;71(3):415-421. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.117.10476

  3. Mcguinness B, Craig D, Bullock R, Malouf R, Passmore P. Statins for the treatment of dementia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(7):CD007514. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007514.pub3

Additional Reading
  • "Inflammation, Heart Disease and Stroke: The Role of C-Reactive Protein." 2008. American Heart Association. 29 Sep. 2008.

  • The Lancet. 367:9508 (2006):413-18. 29 Sep. 2008 

  • Chan, Albert W., Deepak L. Bhatt, Derek P. Chew, Joel Reginelli, Jakob P. Schneider, Eric J. Topol, Stephen G. Ellis. "Relation of Inflammation and Benefit of Statins After Percutaneous Coronary Interventions." Circulation. 107:13(2003): 1750-56. 29 Sep. 2008.

  • Giguere, Jean-Francois, Michel Tremblay. "Statin Compounds Reduce Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Replication by Preventing the Interaction between Virion-Associated Host Intercellular Adhesion Molecule 1 and Its Natural Cell Surface Ligand LFA-1." Journal of Virology. 78(2004): 12062-12065.

  • Hackam, D, M. Mamdani, D. Redelmeier. "Statins and Sepsis in Patients With Cardiovascular Disease: a Population-Based Cohort Analysis." Giguere, Jean-Francois, Michel Tremblay. "Statin Compounds Reduce Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Replication by Preventing the Interaction between Virion-Associated Host Intercellular Adhesion Molecule 1 and Its Natural Cell Surface Ligand LFA-1." Journal of Virology. 78(2004): 12062-12065.

  • Kumar, Amit, Christopher Cannon. "Importance of Intensive Lipid Lowering in Acute Coronary Syndrome and Percutaneous Coronary Intervention." Journal of Interventional Cardiology. 20:(2007): 447-57. 29 Sep. 2008 

  • Mortensen, Eric M., M.I. Restrepo, A. Anzueto, J. Pugh. "The Effect of Prior Statin Use on 30-Day Mortality for Patients." Respiratory Research. 6:1(2005): 82. 29 Sep. 2008.

  • Patti, G., Massimo Chello, Dario Candura, Vincenzo Pasceri, Andrea D'Ambrosio, Elvio Covino, Germano Di Sciascio. "Randomized Trial of Atorvastatin for Reduction of Postoperative Atrial Fibrillation in Patients Undergoing Cardiac Surgery ." Circulation. 114:14(2006): 1455-461. 29 Sep. 2008.

  • P Kopterides and ME Falagas."Statins for sepsis: a critical and updated review." Clinical Microbiology and Infection 2009; 15(4): 325-334.

  • Strazzullo, P., Sally M. Kerry, Antonio Barbato, Marco Versiero, Lanfranco D'Elia, Francesco P. Cappuccio. "Do Statins Reduce Blood Pressure? A Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials." Hypertension. 49:4(2007): 792-829. 29 Sep. 2008.

By Lia Tremblay
Lisa Tremblay is an award-winning writer and editor, writing for magazines, websites, brochures, annual reports, and more for over 15 years.