June 28, 2019
2 min read

Diabetes risk triples with continuous statin use

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New-onset diabetes is more likely to occur in adults who consistently use statins compared with those who do not use such medications, according to findings published in Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews.

Victoria Zigmont

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.,” Victoria Zigmont, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor in the department of public health at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, told Endocrine Today. “Additionally, according to the CDC, 38% of adults over age 40 [years] use a statin, so it is important to understand what effects statin use have on diabetes development.”

Zigmont and colleagues identified 4,683 adults who had hypertension or hyperlipidemia or experienced cerebrovascular disease, congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction, percutaneous coronary implant, coronary artery bypass, ischemic heart disease, stroke, atheroembolism or atherosclerosis, which increased the likelihood that statins would be used, according to the researchers.

All participants were members of the same insurance plan, and the researchers examined medical and pharmacy records to identify cardiovascular disease risk, HbA1c measures and statin prescriptions. The researchers found that 755 participants (mean age, 45.83 years; 62% women) received at least two statin prescriptions during the trial period (2011-2014), which met the study definition for statin use, whereas 3,928 participants did not reach this threshold (mean age, 49.17 years; 51.1% women).

New-onset diabetes is more likely to occur in adults who consistently use statins compared with those who do not use such medications.
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An HbA1c level of more than 6% was observed in a greater prevalence of participants who used statins at study conclusion compared with those who did not use the medication (prevalence difference, 0.065; 95% CI, 0.002-0.129). Among those who did not use statins, 5% developed new-onset diabetes, whereas 14.8% of those using statins developed the condition. According to the researchers, using statins roughly doubled new-onset diabetes risk vs. not using statins (adjusted HR = 2.2; 95% CI, 1.35-3.58), and the risk was tripled when consistent statin use was observed across at least 2 years (aHR = 3.33; 95% CI, 1.84-6.01).

“Statins are a well-established way to prevent heart attacks and strokes. It could be harmful if patients stopped taking their statins, and they should talk to their physicians if they have concerns about side effects associated with their medications,” Zigmont said. “These study findings indicate that statin users should receive special guidance on diet and physical activity for diabetes prevention from their medical care team. These individuals should also receive close monitoring to detect changes in glucose metabolism.” – by Phil Neuffer

For more information:

Victoria Zigmont, PhD, MPH, can be reached at vzigmont42@gmail.com.

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.