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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2009 Sep;138(3):678-686.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2009.03.054. Epub 2009 Jun 6.

Statins for prevention of atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery: a systematic literature review.

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Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Heart Center of the University of Cologne, Germany.



To determine the strength of evidence of preoperative statin therapy for prevention of atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery.


A meta-analysis was performed of randomized controlled trials and observational trials reporting the impact of preoperative statin therapy on the incidence of any type and new-onset atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery. Unadjusted and adjusted treatment effects (odds ratio, 95% confidence intervals) were pooled using a random-effects model, and publication bias was assessed.


Thirteen studies were identified (3 randomized controlled trials, 10 observational trials) that reported the incidence of postoperative atrial fibrillation in 17,643 patients having cardiac surgery with (n = 10,304; 58%) or without (n = 7339; 42%) preoperative statin use. New-onset atrial fibrillation was reported in a total of 7855 patients. Postoperative incidence rates for any or new-onset atrial fibrillation were 24.6% and 29.9%, respectively. Preoperative statin use resulted in a 22% and 34% unadjusted odds reduction for any atrial fibrillation (odds ratio, 0.78; 95% confidence interval, 0.67-0.90) or new-onset atrial fibrillation (odds ratio, 0.66; 95% confidence interval, 0.51-0.84) after surgery (P < .001). Relevant publication bias and an unequal distribution of confounding variables favoring patients treated with statins were identified. Nevertheless, the beneficial actions of statins on atrial fibrillation persisted after pooled analysis of risk-adjusted treatment effects from randomized controlled trials and observational trials (any atrial fibrillation-odds ratio, 0.64; 95% confidence interval, 0.48-0.87; new-onset atrial fibrillation-odds ratio, 0.66; 95% confidence intervals, 0.48-0.89; P < .01).


Our meta-analysis provides evidence that preoperative statin therapy is associated with a reduction in the incidence of atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery.

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