Intensive Statin Therapy and Diabetes

Nutrition Health Review, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Intensive Statin Therapy and Diabetes


High-dose statin therapy has been linked with a higher incidence of diabetes when compared with moderate-dosage statins, which are used to lower cholesterol levels. However, the cardiovascular benefits of intensive-dose statins are considered a greater a benefit than the increased risk of diabetes.

A meta-analysis of randomized trials was conducted to compare high-dose with moderate-dose statins in 1,000 patients. Patients were observed for more than a year. Five of the studies meeting criteria compared moderate doses of atorvastatin (Lipitor[R]), simvastatin (Zocor[R]), or pravastatin (Pravachol[R]) with high doses of atorvastatin or simvastatin alone. The total number of enrolled patients who did not have diabetes at the outset was 32,752. Patients were followed for a mean of almost five years. Diabetes was identified through reports of adverse events, by prescriptions of glucose-lowering medications, or by elevated fasting plasma glucose measurements. During the follow-up, diabetes occurred more often in patients receiving intensive-dose developed diabetes than in those receiving standard-dose statin therapy.

For every 1,000 patients per year, two additional cases came about as a result of treatment with high-dose statins as well as a number-needed-to- harm of 498 per year. …

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