Benefits of statins for healthy hearts exceed diabetes risk
The benefits of taking statins for healthy hearts exceeds the increased risk of diabetes from the drugs new research has found.Although the cholesterol busting drugs raise the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in those already prone to the disease, the cuts in heart attacks and strokes are worth it, an article- Cardiovascular benefits and diabetes risks of statin therapy in primary prevention published in The Lancet said.
Millions of people take statins to reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke and it has been argued that everyone over the age of 50 should take them.
However, in people who are already at risk of type 2 diabetes by being overweight for example, taking statins can increase the chances of developing the disease by 28 per cent.
For healthy people not at risk of diabetes, statins have no effect on the disease.
Conversely, statins can cause fatigue, muscle pains, headaches, nausea and memory problems.
Currently UK doctors consider statins for patients whose chances of having a heart attack over the next decade are calculated to be 20 per cent or greater.
A team of scientists led by Professor Paul Ridker, based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA, analysed data gathered during the Jupiter trial, the first controlled study to report that taking statins results in an increased risk of developing diabetes.
They said for those taking statins during the five year trial the drugs clearly increased the likelihood of developing diabetes in patients already at risk of the disease, these patients were still 39 per cent less likely to develop cardiovascular illness while using statins, and 17 per cent less likely to die over the trial period.
Patients who were not already at risk of developing diabetes experienced a 52 per cent reduction in cardiovascular illness when taking statins, and had no increase in diabetes risk.
Professor Ridker said: “Our results show that in participants with and without diabetes risk, the absolute benefits of statin therapy are greater than the hazards of developing diabetes.
“We believe that most physicians and patients would regard heart attack, stroke and death to be more severe outcomes than the onset of diabetes, and so we hope that these results ease concern about the risks associated with statin therapy when these drugs are appropriately prescribed – in conjunction with improved diet, exercise and smoking cessation – to reduce patients’ risk of cardiovascular disease.”
In an accompanying commentary article Professor Gerald Watts of the University of Western Australia’s Cardiometabolic Research Centre, at the Royal Perth Hospital, said warnings over the use of statins and diabetes could be altered to apply only to people already at risk of diabetes.
He said: “A major take-home message for the clinician involved in either primary or secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease is that all individuals on a statin who have major risk factors for diabetes, particularly impaired fasting glucose, need to be informed about the risk, monitored regularly for hyperglycaemia, and advised to lose weight and take regular physical exercise to mitigate the emergence of diabetes.”
Tags: diabetes, drugs classification, Heart Disease, NHS Deaths, Statins