TUESDAY, June 21 (HealthDay News) -- High doses of the widely popular cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins may have a downside.
A new meta-analysis finds that intensive doses of statins, such as Lipitor and Zocor, upped the risk of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes compared with moderate doses of the drugs.
But the review still revealed a lower incidence of heart attacks, stroke and death, meaning the balance remains tipped in favor of taking statins to protect your heart.
"The benefit with respect to heart protection still favors high-dose statins because those taking high doses of statins often have heart disease so are at very high risk of further events," said Dr. Kausik K. Ray, senior author of a paper published in the June 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Patients should get annual checks of blood sugars and, if elevated, be treated appropriately," added Ray, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at St. George's University of London. "Of the agents tested, the net benefit was better with high-dose atorvastatin [Lipitor] as compared with high-dose simvastatin [Zocor]."
Statins have been very successful in lowering cholesterol levels and are used in people with and without diabetes, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
According to Ray, only about 20 percent of patients taking statins are on high doses. About 80 percent take low to moderate doses.
Ray, along with colleagues from the University of Glasgow, pooled data from five randomized studies comparing intensive statin treatment with more moderate doses.
Essentially, all of the studies involved Lipitor and Zocor, either comparing them against each other, or comparing different doses of the same medication.
All together, they involved almost 33,000 participants and an average follow-up of almost fiv
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