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BACKGROUND: Aside from their cholesterol-lowering effects statins are known to have a range of other 'pleiotropic' effects. We present an overview of the basic science behind these effects and then review clinical trials and the current role of statins relevant to modern surgical practice. METHODS: A systematic review of the literature was performed using the keywords surgery and the MeSH term for statins. All clinical studies relating to statin use in surgical patients were evaluated. An overview of the literature on statin use and cardiac outcomes was performed. CONCLUSIONS: Statins are safe and have a wide range of pleiotropic effects relevant to surgical practice. Strongest evidence for their clinical use comes in primary cardiac risk reduction in many types of vascular surgery. There is a large body of evidence showing their benefit perioperatively in high-risk vascular and cardiac surgery but the picture is less clear for low-risk patients. Further studies are needed to evaluate exact dosage regimes and timing of administration. Novel uses of their anti-inflammatory properties in sepsis and vasomotor properties in subarachnoid haemorrhage are being further investigated by randomised trials.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Surg

Publication Date





285 - 290


Animals, Cardiovascular Diseases, Cerebrovascular Disorders, Clinical Trials as Topic, Disease Models, Animal, Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions, Female, Humans, Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors, Male, Perioperative Care, Postoperative Complications, Prognosis, Rats, Risk Reduction Behavior, Surgical Procedures, Operative, Treatment Outcome, Vascular Surgical Procedures