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Effect of statins on ventricular tachyarrhythmia, cardiac arrest, and sudden cardiac death: a meta-analysis of published and unpublished evidence from randomized trials

Kazem Rahimi, William Majoni, Amal Merhi, Jonathan Emberson
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehs005 ehs005 First published online: 3 February 2012


Aims The effect of statin treatment on ventricular arrhythmic complications is uncertain. We sought to test whether statins reduce the risk of ventricular tachyarrhythmia, cardiac arrest, and sudden cardiac death.

Methods and results We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CENTRAL up to October 2010. Randomized controlled trials comparing statin with no statin or comparing intensive vs. standard dose statin, with more than 100 participants and at least 6-month follow-up were considered for inclusion and relevant unpublished data obtained from the investigators. Twenty-nine trials of statin vs. control (113 568 participants) were included in the main analyses. In these trials, statin therapy did not significantly reduce the risk of ventricular tachyarrhythmia [212 vs. 209; odds ratio (OR) = 1.02, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.84–1.25, P = 0.87] or of cardiac arrest (82 vs. 78; OR = 1.05, 95% CI 0.76–1.45, P = 0.84), but was associated with a significant 10% reduction in sudden cardiac death (1131 vs. 1252; OR = 0.90; 95% CI 0.82–0.97, P = 0.01). This compared with a 22% reduction in the risk of other ‘non-sudden’ (mostly atherosclerotic) cardiac deaths (1235 vs. 1553; OR = 0.78, 95% CI 0.71–0.87, P < 0.001). Results were not materially altered by inclusion of eight trials (involving 41 452 participants) of intensive vs. standard dose statin regimens.

Conclusion Statins have a modest beneficial effect on sudden cardiac death. However, previous suggestions of a substantial protective effect on ventricular arrhythmic events could not be supported.

  • Statins
  • Ventricular arrhythmia
  • Sudden death
  • Meta-analysis
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