Background Statins are recommended for use in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) to reduce cardiovascular events and mortality. However, much of the data regarding benefits of statins stem from the cardiovascular literature. Here, we review the literature regarding statin use specifically in patients with PAD regarding its effects on cardiovascular events and mortality, limb-related outcomes, statin use after endovascular interventions, statin dosing, and concerns about statins. Methods We performed a literature review using PubMed for literature after the year 2000. Search terms included “statins,” “peripheral arterial disease,” “peripheral vascular disease,” “lipid-lowering medication,” and “cardiovascular disease.” Results There is good evidence of statins lowering cardiovascular events and cardiovascular-related mortality in patients with PAD. Though revascularization rates were reduced with statins, amputation rates and amputation-free survival did not improve. Small randomized controlled trials show that patients taking statins can slightly improve pain-free walking distance or pain-free walking time, although the extent of the effect on quality of life is unclear. Statin use for patients undergoing endovascular interventions is recommended because of the reduction of postoperative cardiovascular events. Not enough data exist to support local effects of systemic statin therapy, such as prevention of restenosis. For statin dosing, there is little increased benefit to intense therapy compared with the adverse effects, whereas moderate-dose therapy has significant benefits with very few adverse effects. Adverse effects of moderate-dose statin therapy are rare and mild and are greatly outweighed by the cardiovascular benefits. Conclusions There is strong evidence to support use of statins in patients with PAD to reduce cardiovascular events and mortality. Use in patients undergoing open and endovascular interventions is also recommended. Statin use may reduce the need for revascularization, but reductions in amputation have not been shown. Moderate-dose statin therapy is safe, and the minor risks are greatly outweighed by benefits.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine