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Giving daily doses of statins for a few days before and after heart surgery does not prevent heart muscle damage or the development of atrial fibrillation (AF), according to an international clinical trial led by the University of Oxford and funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The trial, which is the largest of its kind, showed that short-term statin treatment did not benefit heart surgery patients and increased the risk of developing kidney damage. These results, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), rule out a clinical benefit of the rapid anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of statin therapy in heart surgery and are expected to change international guidelines on preventing AF and other in-hospital complications after heart surgery.