Introduction:  Statins have diverse anti-inflammatory effects in addition to their lipid-lowering ability. This study assesses the rate of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbation and intubations in patients taking statins.

Methods:  This is a retrospective cohort study of 185 patients with COPD exacerbation, with a 1-year follow-up. Outcomes examined were repeat hospitalisation and intubations for COPD exacerbation. Baseline characteristics for which the p-value was ≤ 0.10 were considered as covariates for inclusion in a multivariate model.

Results:  The statin group had fewer episodes of exacerbation and required intubation fewer times than the subjects not receiving statins (p < 0.0001 for both outcomes). Unadjusted odds ratios (OR) for no statin use vs. statin use were 9.54 (95% CI: 4.54–20.02) for exacerbation and 10.47 (CI: 4.56–24.01) for intubation. The OR, adjusted for the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ORa), were 2.35 (CI: 1.01–5.50) for non-statin users exhibiting an exacerbation and 10.36 (CI: 2.77–38.76) for this group requiring intubation, compared with statin users. Similarly, ORa for long-acting β2 agonists as a covariate were 3.01 (CI: 1.46–6.10) for exacerbation and 8.89 (CI: 3.67–21.32) for intubation. Time to outcome during the observation period was reduced by statins with the hazard ratio (HR) for exacerbation of 0.19 (CI: 0.06–0.14); HR for statins reducing intubation was 0.14 (95% CI: 0.10–0.30).

Conclusions:  These data suggest that the use of statins may be associated with lower incidence of both exacerbations and intubations in patients with COPD.