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New Treatment Guidelines For Statins and Diabetes

Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2004

Adults with type 2 diabetes who are over 55 should take cholesterol-fighting statin drugs to prevent heart disease, even if they do not have elevated cholesterol levels.

The American College of Physicians has announced new treatment guidelines that recommend that those over 55 with type 2 diabetes should be on a statin and the same advice goes for younger patients with type 2 and at least one risk factor for heart disease Most patients with Type 2 diabetes should start taking statins, the cholesterol-fighting drugs, as a preventive measure against heart disease, whether or not they have high cholesterol levels, according to new guidelines released last week.

The new guidelines are outlined in April 20 issue of The Annals of Internal Medicine, in an article that noted that about 16 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes and that 800,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.

The lead author of an article accompanying the guidelines, Dr. Sandeep Vijan of the University of Michigan, said that "almost everyone with Type 2 diabetes should be on a statin."

The average age at diagnosis is 48, and even many patients under 55 have high blood pressure as well as diabetes, he said.

Traditionally, diabetes treatment has focused on regulating blood sugar levels by careful control of diet or through insulin injections. But researchers have come to understand that controlling sugar really protects only against the destruction of small blood vessels, which can lead to blindness or loss of fingers, toes or limbs.

Heart disease is, in fact, the more serious threat. Up to 80 percent of diabetes patients will develop heart problems or die of them, the article said. And Dr. Vijan emphasized that controlling hypertension remained the highest priority. He ranked control of lipids, the fats in the blood stream that can affect coronary health, second, ahead of glucose regulation.

Dr. Vijan said the new guidelines called for moderate doses of statins; the largest clinical trial involving diabetics used 40 milligrams of simvistatin, for example. He said researchers were evaluating recently published studies that suggested that high doses of statins might have better results.


Source:  Diabetes In

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