Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs can reduce the risk of dying during a heart bypass operation by as much as two thirds, a study has found.
Researchers made the discovery after analysing data on more than 16,000 British patients aged 40 and over who underwent a coronary artery bypass graft (CABG).
The procedure diverts blood around blocked or narrowed arteries to improve the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart.
Patients who took statins - who made up 85pc of the total -had a 67pc reduced risk of death around the time of the surgery compared to the average risk associated with the procedure.
Other medications, including beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers and alpha-2 agonists, were not associated with the same effect.
Simvastatin, the most commonly prescribed statin, lowered the risk of death by 77pc, the study showed. Findings from the research were presented at the European Society of Anaesthesiology's Euroanaesthesia meeting in Berlin, Germany.
The authors, led Dr Robert Sanders, from the University of Wisconsin in the US, wrote: "Statins were associated with a significant protective effect on peri-operative mortality from CABG surgery that was not shared by the other cardiovascular medications. Further data are needed on whether all statins exert similar effects.
"These data suggest that patients not taking statins should be considered for statin therapy based on their peri-operative and chronic health risks."