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Statin Therapy Helps Diabetic Patients

British study finds cholesterol-lowering drugs reduce risk of major vascular events

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Most people with diabetes should be considered for treatment with cholesterol-lowering statins.

That's the advice of the authors of a study in the Jan. 12 issue of The Lancet.

The British and Australian researchers found that statins reduced the risk of major vascular events in a wide range of people with diabetes, regardless of age, sex and other clinical characteristics, and irrespective of whether they already had cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

For the study, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 18,686 people with diabetes and 71,370 without diabetes who took part in 14 randomized trials that examined the use of statins to reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol.

During a mean follow-up of 4.3 years, 3,247 of the people with diabetes experienced vascular events. Among people with diabetes, there was a 9 percent proportional reduction in all-cause death per mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol, which was similar to the 13 percent reduction noted in people without diabetes.

The study authors said they found a significant 20 percent proportional reduction in major vascular events per mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol in people with diabetes, a decline similar to that seen in people without diabetes.

"This meta-analysis shows convincingly that the proportional benefits of statin therapy on major vascular events were similar in a wide range of individuals with diabetes, including those with no previous history of vascular disease, and benefits were similar to those observed in people without diabetes," the researchers wrote.

"Most people with diabetes should now be considered for statin therapy, unless their risk is low (e.g., as in children) or statin therapy has been shown to be unsuitable for them (e.g., as in pregnancy)," they concluded.

Statins are among the most notable achievements of modern medicine, but "one must not forget the importance of lifestyle changes, such as cessation of smoking, healthy diet, and regular exercise," Bernard Cheung, a professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about statins.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Jan. 11, 2008

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