Effects of Hypercholesterolemia and Statin Exposure on Survival in a Large National Cohort of Patients With Cirrhosis

VOCAL Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Concerns related to hepatotoxicity frequently lead to discontinuation or non-initiation of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl–coenzyme A reductase therapy in patients with cirrhosis despite data supporting statin use. We investigated the independent effects of hyperlipidemia and statin exposure on mortality, hepatic decompensation, and hepatocellular carcinoma development in a large national cohort of patients with cirrhosis. Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of patients with newly diagnosed cirrhosis from January 1, 2008 through June 30, 2016 in the Veterans Health Administration. Subjects were divided into 2 cohorts: 21,921 patients with prior statin exposure (existing users) and 51,023 statin-naïve individuals, of whom 8794 subsequently initiated statin therapy (new initiators) and 44,269 did not (non-initiators). Multivariable Cox proportional hazard models with inverse probability weighting were constructed to assess the effects of time-updating lipid profiles and cumulative exposure to statins on survival and hepatic decompensation. Statin-naïve new initiators were propensity matched with non-initiators to simulate a randomized controlled trial of statin use in cirrhosis. Results: In statin-naïve subjects, every 10-mg/dL increase in baseline total cholesterol was associated with a 3.6% decrease in mortality. In existing users, each year of continued statin exposure was associated with a hazard ratio of 0.920 (95% confidence interval 0.0.897–0.943) for mortality. After risk-set matching, each year of statin exposure among new initiators was associated with a hazard ratio of 0.913 (95% confidence interval 0.890–0.937) for mortality. Conclusions: In a retrospective cohort study of veterans with a new diagnosis of cirrhosis, we associated hypercholesterolemia with well-preserved hepatic function and decreased mortality. Nonetheless, each cumulative year of statin exposure was associated with an independent 8.0%–8.7% decrease of mortality of patients with cirrhosis of Child-Turcotte-Pugh classes A and B.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1693-1706.e12
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 AGA Institute


  • Alcohol
  • Fatty Liver
  • Hepatitis
  • Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of Hypercholesterolemia and Statin Exposure on Survival in a Large National Cohort of Patients With Cirrhosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this