The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has advised that diabetics consider taking a statin to lower cholesterol, even if they already have low cholesterol levels. Because diabetics are in the high-risk category for heart disease, statins will benefit them, according to the association's latest treatment guidelines.
The new guidelines stem from the results of a British study reported in early 2004 in The Lancet. The study of adults over age 40 found that individuals who took statins had a one third lower risk of stroke. "It is now a consensus that having diabetes is the equivalent in terms of cardiovascular risk of already having had a heart attack," said Nathaniel Clark, MD, PhD, vice president for clinical affairs for the ADA.
In the past 5 years, studies have indicated that statins can lower the levels of C-reactive proteina substance in the blood that is a sign of inflammation in the body and is a predictor of heart disease. A major study called the JUPITER Trial is under way to investigate whether statins can prevent first-time heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular disease in individuals who have low low-density lipoprotein but whose levels of C-reactive protein are high. "Inflammation in general, and C-reactive protein in particular, is a risk factor for diabetes," said Paul Ridker, MD, MPH, who is leading the JUPITER Trial.