and Medicine for Seniors
Diabetics with Heart Disease Can
Live Longer by Taking Statins Says Researcher
Patients taking statins at beginning of study had a 50% increase of
being alive as compared to those who didn’t
July 16, 2014 – Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death
and disability among people with Type 2 diabetes. In fact, at least 65
percent of people with diabetes die from some form of heart disease or
stroke, according to the American Heart Association. The good news is
that it appears they may add years to their lives by taking statins.
A new study by researchers at
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
suggests that the use of cholesterol-lowering statins may help prolong
the lives of people with diabetic cardiovascular disease.
The study is published in the current online edition of Diabetes Care.
“Although our study was not a clinical trial, it did show that people
with diabetes and heart disease can still live quite a few years by
taking statins,” said Don Bowden, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry at
Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study.
The research team studied data from 371 patients who had participated in
the Diabetes Heart Study. At the beginning of the study, the
participants received a CT scan to determine their levels of coronary
artery calcium (CAC); a CAC score greater than 1,000 indicates an
increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The team compared the baseline characteristics of 153 patients who died
during an average 8.2 years of follow-up and 218 who survived. The
researchers assumed that risk for mortality would be consistently high
among the study participants. However, 60 percent were still living
after more than eight years.
The use of cholesterol-lowering statins at the baseline exam was the
only modifiable risk factor identified to be protective against
mortality. The participants taking statins at the beginning of the study
had a 50 percent increase of being alive as compared to those who
Bowden said this highlights the importance of widespread prescription of
cholesterol-lowering medications among individuals with Type 2 diabetes
who have existing high CVD risk, but added that in previous studies the
rates of statins prescribed for diabetic patients have been low.
“These data suggest that cholesterol-lowering medications may be used
less than recommended and need to be more aggressively targeted as a
critical modifiable risk factor,” he said.
Funding for the study was provided by National Institutes of Health
grants R01-HL-67348, R01-HL-092301 and R01-N5-058700.
Co-authors of the study are Amanda Cox, Ph.D., Fang-Ci Hsu, Ph.D., Barry
Freedman, M.D., and David Herrington, M.D., of Wake Forest Baptist; J.
Jeffrey Carr, M.D., of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; and
Michael Criqui, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego.