High Dosage of Statins Increases Diabetes Risk in Patients with Heart Problems, Study


A latest study, conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia, has found that cholesterol-lowering statins prescribed to patients with heart problems increases diabetes risk. The effect is more prominent in patients consuming higher potency statins.

"This is not about stopping statins," said lead author Colin R. Dormuth, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, to Reuters Health. "These patients should be on a statin, the question is, should they be on a higher or a lower dose?" Reuters reports.

For the study, researchers examined data on 137,000 patients from Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. The patients were on statin medication after being hospitalized for a stroke, heart attack or other major heart problems between 1997 and 2011. None of them suffered from diabetes.

The researchers identified rosuvastatin (brand name Crestor) prescribed at 10 milligrams or more per day, atorvastatin (Lipitor) at 20 mg or more and simvastatin (Zocor) at 40 mg or more as higher potency statins. The remaining dosages were grouped in lower potency category.

The researchers observed increased risk for development of new-onset diabetes among patients with higher potency statins as compared with lower potency agents. The risk was highest in the first four months of use.

Researchers said that death rates among patients taking low-dose and high-dose statins have been the same in other trials. This means that higher dose of statins do not extend life more than the lower dose versions.

Higher dose should be recommended to patients with genetic conditions and those who are more prone to high cholesterol.

"Physicians need to weigh the small increase in benefit against the increase in diabetes risk," Dormuth said.

The findings are published in BMJ journal.

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