Some diabetics should pass on heart disease drugs, study finds

Diabetics are always told to keep an eye on their cholesterol.

But new research suggests that prescribing statin drugs to lower cholesterol in diabetes patients isn't always the best option--and it may actually pose health risks.

The over-prescribing problem

Researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System found that doctors, in general, are over-prescribing statins to diabetes patients. The study found that about 14 percent of patients 18 years or older were taking high doses of statins--even though they had no known heart problems.

The study analyzed more than 960,000 patients ages 18 and older with type 2 diabetes.

In general, doctors try to help diabetes patients lower cholesterol to a safe level, but the research suggests treatment is not a one-size-fits-all process.

"We want patients to get the treatment they need to prevent heart attacks and cardiovascular issues, but we don't want to expose them to additional treatment risks without strong evidence of the benefits," said Dr. Eve Kerr, lead researcher of the study.

Health risks

FDA guidelines about statin drugs, updated earlier this year, note that statins can cause high blood sugar, memory loss, liver disease, muscle damage and even type 2 diabetes.

The study notes that, before prescribing statins, doctors should look at other factors, such as a patient's blood pressure, prescriptions and health history. Personalization, the study authors say, is key. Harlan M. Krumholz, MD, of Yale-New Haven Hospital Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation elaborates:

"The study reveals that we may have both underuse and overuse of statins and should invigorate efforts to make sure that each patient has the opportunity to be treated in a personalized way that is best given their risk [of heart disease]."

Source: Daily RX

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