Dose dependent effect of statins on postoperative atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery among patients treated with beta blockers

Salima Mithani, Muhammad S. Akbar, Deborah J. Johnson, Michael Kuskowski, Katherine K. Apple, Jana Bonawitz-Conlin, Herbert B. Ward, Rosemary F. Kelly, Edward O. McFalls, Hanna E. Bloomfield, Jian Ming Li, Selcuk Adabag

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30 Scopus citations


Background: Previous studies on the effects of Statins in preventing atrial fibrillation (AF) after cardiac surgery have shown conflicting results. Whether statins prevent AF in patients treated with postoperative beta blockers and whether the statin-effect is dose related are unknown. Methods: We retrospectively studied 1936 consecutive patients who underwent coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) (n = 1493) or valve surgery (n = 443) at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center. All patients were in sinus rhythm before the surgery. Postoperative beta blockers were administered routinely (92% within 24 hours postoperatively). Results: Mean age was 66+10 years and 68% of the patients were taking Statins. Postoperative AF occurred in 588 (30%) patients and led to longer length of stay in the intensive care unit versus those without AF (5.1+7.6 days versus 2.5+2.3 days, p < 0.0001). Patients with a past history of AF had a 5 times higher risk of postoperative AF (odds ratio 5.1; 95% confidence interval 3.4 to 7.7; p < 0.0001). AF occurred in 31% of patients taking statins versus 29% of the others (p = 0.49). In multivariable analysis, statins were not associated with AF (odds ratio (OR) 0.93, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.7 to 1.2; p = 0.59). However, in a subgroup analysis, the patients treated with Simvastatin >20 mg daily had a 36% reduction in the risk of postoperative AF (OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.6; p = 0.03) in comparison to those taking lower dosages. Conclusion: Among cardiac surgery patients treated with postoperative beta blockers Statin treatment reduces the incidence of postoperative AF when used at higher dosages.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1749
Pages (from-to)61
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 4 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are indebted to Ann Marie Bangerter, Katharine Rose Tallman for their efforts in data collection. Dr. Adabag is supported, in part, by VA Clinical Science R&D Service (Grant no. 04S-CRCOE 001), Washington, DC.


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