Cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins probably help stave off heart disease and stroke even for people with diabetes who wouldn't be told to reduce cholesterol under current guidelines, lead researcher Helen Colhoun said in an interview. Almost all people with type 2 diabetes in Western Europe and the U.S. should “strongly consider" taking such drugs, she said.
The finding may expand the market for Lipitor (a statin), which generated more than $9.7 billion in revenue during the 12 months ended in June, according to IMS Health Inc.
Heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the U.S., kill almost two-thirds of those with diabetes, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, told Bloomberg.
According to a new study, all type 2 diabetics benefit from taking statins (cholesterol lowering drugs), even those whose cholesterol levels are normal. Their chances of ever developing heart disease or strokes would be significantly reduced, says the study.
The researchers found that those on Lipitor reduced their chances of having a heart attack by over 30%, stroke by nearly 50% and any form of cardiovascular disease by over 30%.
Diabeticians are saying in large numbers that people with type 2 diabetes should seriously consider taking statins, regardless of whether their cholesterol levels are high, reports Medical News.
"This is a landmark study with watertight data showing clear evidence of a benefit that warrants people to really look at their treatment of this group of patients," said the study's lead author, Helen Colhoun, a professor at the University College Dublin.
The study was terminated two years early because the results were so striking.
Although the study, being published in Saturday's issue of The Lancet, received some funding from Lipitor's maker, Pfizer Inc., it was supported primarily by the British government and Britain's equivalent of the American Diabetes Association, Colhoun said.
About 17 million Americans suffer from Type 2 diabetes. Doctors have long known that diabetes sharply increases the risk for heart attacks and strokes, but patients generally do not take statins unless they have high cholesterol levels, states The Washington Post.
But in an article published alongside the research, Abhimany Garg of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said it was still too early to recommend that all type 2 diabetics go on anti-cholesterol drugs.
“For patients with type 2 diabetes at moderate to low risk of coronary heart disease, maximal lowering of lipids with diet, exercise, weight loss and rigorous glycaemic control must be attempted before considering lipid lowering drugs,” Garg wrote, according to Reuters.