By: Brenda Neugent
Some cholesterol-lowering drugs may help reduce the risk of amputation for those with diabetes, according to a new study.
The study focused on more than 80,000 patients in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs health care system with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Over a five-year period, those patients were monitored for cholesterol-lowering agents, diabetic medication, A1c levels, body mass index, and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Patients were also accessed for major risk factors of lower extremity amputation, such as peripheral diabetic neuropathy, peripheral artery disease and foot ulcers.
Researchers found that those taking statins-drugs that help lower cholesterol by reducing the production of cholesterol in the liver-were 34 to 43 percent less likely to experience a lower extremity amputation compared to those not taking statins.
Other cholesterol-lowering medications did not have a significant impact on amputations, researchers added.
“This is the first study to report a significant association between statin use and diminished amputation risk among patients with diabetes,” authors of the study wrote. “In this nonrandomized cohort, beneficial effects of statin therapy were similar to that seen in large-scale clinical trial experience.”
The study appeared last month in the Journal of Vascular Surgery.
Another study, this one from the University of Michigan Medical School, found that using older medical technology-a procedure known as Raman spectroscopy-could help diagnose inflammation of the foot and leg earlier than some other techniques, making amputation a less likely outcome.
Osteomyelitis, or inflammation of the foot, is a common risk factor for those with diabetes, but it is often difficult to diagnosis in early stages, researchers said.
Cases diagnosed later are more difficult to treat, making amputation more likely.
Through the use of lasers, Raman spectroscopyis ableto detect the existence of pathological calcium phosphate minerals in addition to normal bone mineral, an early sign of osteomyelitis.
By detecting such changes in the bone composition of diabetes patients, the technique can make that early diagnosis, so ensuing treatment for the inflammation is more likely to be successful.
The study appeared last month in the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes Care.