A new study released by Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows that statins, which have been used effectively to prevent heart disease and heart attacks, minimally increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and the benefits of statins outweigh that risk.
The study analyzed specific data from the JUPITER trial (Justification for the Use of Statins in Primary Prevention), which focused on the statin Crestor as a preventative treatment in healthy people. The study found that statins were highly effective in preventing heart disease in people who had no current heart problems or high cholesterol, but who had high levels of a marker for heart disease, CRP (C-reactive protein). Statins had been used to treat people with existing heart problems or high cholesterol, to prevent heart attacks and stroke. The new findings of the JUPITER study meant that the FDA expanded the potential patient base, so millions of Americans began taking the drug, in concert with quitting smoking, increasing exercise, and eating healthier food, to prevent heart disease.
However, the JUPITER study also showed that statins could increase a patient’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. As the drug was more widely used, more people began developing diabetes, which prompted the FDA to require stronger warning labels on statin drugs. But this new study, led by Dr. Paul Ridker, a cardiologist at Brigham, shows the increased risk is linked to patients who already have an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Over the 5 years of the trial, patients with no risk of developing diabetes did not have an increased risk of developing the disease, while patients with one risk factor for developing diabetes had an increased risk of 28%. However, for patients at risk of developing diabetes, those that took the statins were 39% less likely to develop heart disease, and 17% less likely to die. Patients not at risk of diabetes were 52% less likely to develop heart disease.
“Among those with no risk factors for diabetes, there were 86 fewer heart attacks, stroke and other major vascular events among those who got the statin as compared to placebo, with no new cases of diabetes at all. So, for this group, there was cardiovascular benefit with no diabetes risk,” Ridker said.
Dr. Gerald Watts, Winthrop Professor of Medicine at the Cardiometabolic Research Center in at the University of Western Australia, and co-author of the journal editorial, agrees that the increase in diabetes risk does not outweigh the great benefits of using statins. He did caution that patients and doctors should watch out for diabetes if the patient is at risk, and taking a statin. “If you are on a statin make sure you lead a healthy lifestyle,” he added.
The FDA’s website has a page dedicated to potential risks related to statin use. If your doctor recommends that you take a statin to prevent or treat heart disease, it is important to know the risks and how they relate to you. Speak with your doctor candidly about the risks and benefits. While statins are generally beneficial to patients, not all drugs work for you, and some drugs, like the highly controversial diabetes drugs Actos and Avandia, are shown to have very detrimental side effects. And, if you think you might have experienced medical malpractice during the course of your treatment, you should seek legal council immediately. Many lawyers, including the Strom Law Firm, offer free consultations, so you can discuss your situation and see if you might be owed compensation for personal damages. Please contact us today – our experienced lawyers are here to help you on the road to recovery. 803.252.4800.