ATLANTA— Statins appear to lower risk of amputation and death in veterans with peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to a recent study.

The research presented at the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology | Peripheral Vascular Disease 2016 Scientific Sessions in Nashville, TN, also noted that the higher the dose of the cholesterol-lowering drugs, the lower the risks.1

“PAD, a narrowing of the peripheral arteries to the legs, stomach, arms and head, is the next cardiovascular epidemic. It is poorly recognized and not adequately treated compared to heart disease—and research is lacking on the optimal use of statins for PAD patients,” explained lead author Shipra Arya, MD, SM, of the Atlanta VAMC and Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

For the study, researchers compiled health information and health status from the VA’s database for more than 208,000 veterans with PAD. During an average 5.2 years of follow-up, researchers identified those on statin medications (and the dosage) around the time of PAD diagnosis and followed the veterans to assess their risk of amputation or death.

Patients were classified into three groups—those taking high doses of statins, low to moderate statin doses and no statins.

Results indicate a 33% lower risk of amputation and 29% lower risk of death among PAD patients taking high doses of statins, compared to those taking no statins. For PAD patients taking low to moderate doses compared to a cohort not on statins, a 22% lower risk of amputation and death was identified.

“Ours is one of the largest population-based studies on PAD and suggests patients who have been diagnosed with PAD should be considered for placement on high dose statins upon diagnosis if they can tolerate it, along with other medical management, including smoking cessation, antiplatelet therapy and a walking program,” Arya added.

  1. Arya S, Khakharia A, Binney ZO, et al. Statins have a dose-dependent effect on amputation risk and survival in peripheral arterial disease (PAD) patients. Presented at: Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology | Peripheral Vascular Disease 2016 Scientific Sessions. May 6, 2016. Nashville, TN.