For people living with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), every day is part of an ongoing battle to hold on tight to lung function as long as possible.
That battle can be exhausting and all-consuming, so it’s understandable that other health concerns—like, say, high cholesterol—might take a back seat.
But evidence suggests that the treatments used to lower cholesterol might have an unexpected benefit: Boosting the effectiveness of IPF treatments.
A study put out by the Journal Thorax last year looked at three earlier studies of IPF patients taking the treatment Esbriet. Specifically, the study looked at the outcomes of those patients who were also taking a cholesterol-lowering statin versus those who were not.
The 44 percent of patients who were taking statins—276 in total—tended to be a bit older and had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than their non-statin counterparts. But after a year, something interesting happened: The statin group had a lower risk of mortality and fewer hospitalizations than the non-statin group. And in one key measurement of IPF disease progression, the six-minute walk distance test, the statin group showed less decline.
Does this mean everyone on IPF should rush out and ask for a statin?
Well, no. This is just one study looking at previously collected date—a lot more work needs to be done to confirm the theory. Other studies over the years have suggested that statins could actually make IPF progression worse, so this is by no means a slam-dunk.
But it does make a certain sense that if you’re fighting IPF progression, the last thing you need to worry about is cardiovascular complications. So maybe this study will lead to more research and, with any luck, a new weapon to make that daily fight to hold onto lung function a little easier.