Statins cut risk of vascular events in diabetes mellitus patients

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By Jimmy Downs

Wednesday Nov 7, 2012 ( -- A study in the Lancet suggests that taking statins may reduce risk of major vascular events in people living with diabetes mellitus.

Previous studies have already shown statins reduce the risk of occlusive vascular events in men and women with diabetes mellitus.  The current study looked at more details about the effect of statins on the risk of vascular events in association with the type of diabetes, lipid profile and other factors.

The study based on data from 18,686 individuals with diabetes with 1466 type 1 and 17,220 type 2 diabetes mellitus and 71,370 controls without diabetes who were enrolled in 14 randomized trials of statin therapy.   During a mean 4.3-year follow-up, 3,247 major vascular events were identified in people with diabetes.

The researchers found a 1.0 mmol/L reduction in low density lipoprotein cholesterol was associated with a 9% reduction in call cause mortality in those who had diabetes, compared to 13 percent reduction in those who had no diabetes.

In people with diabetes mellitus, a 1.0 nmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol was associated with 13 percent reduction in vascular mortality, but no protective effect on non-vascular mortality.

The 1.0mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol was associated with 21% reduction in major vascular events in people with diabetes mellitus and 21% reduction in those without diabetes.

In people with diabetes mellitus, 1.0 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol was associated a 22 percent reduced risk of myocardial infarction or coronary death, 25% reduced risk for coronary revascularisation and 21 percent reduced risk of stroke.

The protective affect of statins was similar in all people with diabetes mellitus regardless of history of vascular disease and its characteristics at baseline.

After a five years of using statins, 42 fewer people per 1000 people with diabetes mellitus experienced major vascular events.

The researchers concluded "Statin therapy should be considered for all diabetic individuals who are at sufficiently high risk of vascular events."

Statins are very effective at lowering cholesterol.  But studies suggest that statins may be cost effective only in people with prior heart disease.  Also, using statins can cause side effects.  A safer treatment is red yeast rice, which is as effective as statins at lowering cholesterol, previous studies found.

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