Diabetes risk associated with heart medication

A new University of Glasgow study has found that medication commonly prescribed for people with heart problems can put them at an increased risk of developing diabetes.

The study, which appears in the current edition of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows that patients receiving high doses of statin therapy for cardiovascular problems are 12% more likely to develop diabetes than those receiving lesser doses.

The study is based on a review of relevant previously unpublished data on 35,752 non-diabetic participants sourced from five randomised clinical trials. The research followed up participants for an average of 4.9 years after they began either moderate or intensive statin therapy.

The research showed that there was an increased risk of developing diabetes for those on intensive-dose therapy but also a decreased risk of serious heart problems and that the cardiovascular benefits still clearly outweighed the risk of diabetes.

During the period before the follow-up, 2,729 participants developed diabetes. Of that group, 1,149 received intensive-dose statin therapy while 1,300 received moderate-dose therapy. This represents a 12% higher risk of diabetes for those on intensive doses of statins.

During the same period, 6,684 participants experienced a major cardiovascular event such as a heart attack. Of those, 3,134 received intensive-dose statin therapy while 3,550 received moderate-dose therapy. This represents a 16% lower risk of major cardiovascular events for those on intensive doses of statins.

The University of Glasgow’s Dr. David Preiss, who led the study, said: “Given the cardiovascular benefits of statins and the likely increasing use of intensive statin regimens, it is important to quantify any potential long-term risks to enable physicians and patients to make informed choices.

“Our findings suggest that clinicians should be vigilant for the development of diabetes in patients receiving intensive statin therapy.”


For more information contact Ross Barker in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535 or ross.barker@glasgow.ac.uk

First published: 23 June 2011

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