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The FDA has approved the use of the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor for reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack among patients with type 2 diabetes who exhibit no signs of heart disease but have other risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, family history of heart disease, smoking, and obesity. This approval allows patients with normal levels of low-density lipoprotein ("bad") cholesterol to take the drug if they have just one of the common risk factors. This recent approval was based on data from 2 large studies that demonstrated how Lipitor reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with diabetes. It is estimated that 25% to 33% of patients with diabetes have symptoms of cardiovascular disease, and patients with diabetes have a much greater risk of dying from heart disease than patients without the disease.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.