U.K., Aussie Researchers Recommend Statin Therapy for Most People With Diabetes

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By: Patrick Totty

Statins, the drugs now widely used to control "bad" LDL cholesterol in bothdiabetic and non-diabetic patients, should be offered to most people withdiabetes regardless of their age, sex or cardiovascular health and history.

That's the contention of British and Australian researchers who studied 18,686people with diabetes and 71,370 people without the disease, tracking anylowering of mortality rates that could be attributed to a reduction in LDLcholesterol.

The studies, conducted at Oxford University in the United Kingdom and a clinicaltrial center in Sydney in Australia, found that people with diabetes takingstatins enjoyed an overall 20 percent reduction in their risk of stroke or heartattack. The drugs had a beneficial effect on all people with diabetes in thestudy, no matter their age, sex or previous history of cardiovascular disease.

Previous studies have shown that statin therapy is useful in preventing damageto veins and arteries, which is why it's routinely prescribed to people withdiabetes because of the inflammation caused by high blood sugars.

But researchers were curious to see if statins could also be counted on tolower the risk of heart attacks and heart disease. They also wanted to know ifstatins could be a useful therapy even in cases where diabetics had no historyof vascular or heart problems.

After five years, researchers found that diabetics on statins suffered 42 fewerdeaths per 1,000 than people with diabetes who were not taking statins. Theyconcluded that statin therapy should be offered to most people with diabetes,with the exception of children at low risk and pregnant women.

Although researchers' recommendations that statin therapy be added to themedicinal tool box available to people with diabetes, Prof. Bernard Cheung ofthe U.K.'s University of Birmingham reminds diabetic patients that "apart fromdrug treatment, one must not forget the importance of lifestyle changes, such ascessation of smoking, healthy diet and regular exercise."

Sources: Medical Research Council, U.K.; EurekAlert

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